Here’s welcome news for city travelers but not for central banks such as the Fed, damn insistent on price inflation.

Alphabet’s carpooling program in San Francisco offers rides at amazingly cheap rates of 54 cents a mile, and that’s with a driver.

Google Ride Sharing

Please consider Google Takes on Uber With New Ride-Share Service.

Google is moving onto Uber Technologies Inc.’s turf with its own ride-sharing service in San Francisco that would help commuters inexpensively join carpools, said a person familiar with the matter, jumping into a booming but fiercely competitive market.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., began a pilot program around its California headquarters in May that enables several thousand area workers at specific firms to use the Waze app to connect with fellow commuters. It plans to open the program to all San Francisco-area Waze users this fall, the person said, with hopes of expanding the service if successful. Waze, which Google acquired in 2013, offers real-time driving directions based on information from other drivers.

Unlike Uber and its crosstown San Francisco rival Lyft Inc., which each largely operate as on-demand taxi businesses, Waze wants to connect riders with drivers who are already headed in the same direction. The company has said it aims to make fares low enough to discourage drivers from operating as taxi drivers. Waze’s current pilot charges riders at most 54 cents a mile—less than most Uber and Lyft rides—and, for now, Google doesn’t take a fee.

Google and Uber were once allies—Google invested $258 million in Uber in 2013—but more recently have become rivals in some areas. Alphabet executive David Drummond said on Monday that he resigned from Uber’s board because of rising competition between the pair. Uber, which has long used Google’s mapping software for its ride-hailing service, recently began developing its own maps.

The two also are racing to develop driverless cars. Google has led the way with such technology, founding a project in 2009 that has now amassed more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous driving with its test cars. Uber earlier this month bought Ottomotto LLC, a six-month-old driverless-truck startup founded by Google veterans. Uber said it plans to start testing robotic taxis in Pittsburgh over the next several weeks, beating Google to a commercial test of self-driving technology.

Like Uber and Lyft, Waze’s drivers aren’t employees of the company, the person said. Unlike Uber, Google doesn’t plan to vet drivers for a Waze service, instead relying on user reviews to weed out problem drivers, the person said.

Waze, which operates as its own unit within Google, boasts 65 million active users, many of whom alert other users to police or traffic accidents—a hallmark of the app.

Driverless Waze

Waze will  be driverless by 2022 if not before.

Millions of long haul truck jobs will vanish in the 2022-2024 time frame, at the latest. The demand for owning a car will collapse shortly thereafter (2026-2028), if not simultaneously.

This is not a prediction that household ownership of private cars will vanish. Rather, it’s a prediction that car ownership in urban areas declines 25% or more in the 2026-2028 time frame, then continues to sink over the years.

I may very well be way behind the curve.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock