Alphabet’s self-driving car division, Waymo, announced today that it is partnering with Valley Metro which is the public transportation provider in the Phoenix area. The idea with this partnership is for Waymo to use its vehicles to bring riders the “last mile”. Essentially, Waymo would be filling in gaps from Valley Metro’s system, and getting passengers to their home safely. Now while this is called “last mile”, it’s actually much further than a mile, especially for some that live in the suburbs around Phoenix.
Waymo has not yet mentioned how they are planning to monetize this service, but in the Waymo app that is currently only available to those in the Early Rider program, there is a pricing structure available. In fact, one rider said that their 11.3-mile trip would cost about $19.15. So the pricing would likely be similar to an Uber or Lyft ride. A spokesperson from Waymo stated that the prices do “not reflect the various pricing models under consideration.” The spokesperson also stated that this pricing is only available so it can get feedback from those in the Early Rider program.
There’s no set launch date for this new partnership, but both Waymo and Valley Metro expect it to start up in earnest in August. But the way it’ll work is that users are able to hail one of Waymo’s vehicles – which will be Chrysler Pacifica minivans – and the vehicle will take them to nearby public transportation options. Waymo says that it expects to expand this program later this year to Valley Metro RideChoice travelers. RideChoice is a program by Valley Metro that offers discounted taxi’s to those that are disabled and seniors, as these are most likely people that are underserved by the traditional public transportation services in the Phoenix area. It’s an area where Waymo can really make a difference.