Waymo Opens Autonomous Ride Hailing Taxi To All San Fran Residents

Alphabet’s Waymo unit opens its autonomous ride-hailing service to all residents of San Francisco, after similar move in Phoenix in 2020

Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving division has announced a move that could dramatically expand the number of people using its autonomous ride-hailing taxi service.

The service, known as Waymo One, is now available to all residents of San Francisco 24×7 if they download the app, the firm announced in a blog post on Tuesday.

The move comes after the US safety regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said last month that its investigation of Waymo self-driving vehicles had uncovered more incidents that raised concerns.

Image credit: Waymo

Safety first

NHTSA had actually begun a preliminary investigation in May 2024 into dozens of incidents involving Waymo’s driverless vehicles, which includes several “single-party” crashes and possible traffic law violations.

It should be remembered that Waymo is not alone here.

The NHTSA is already investigating rival robotaxi service providers GM’s Cruise and Amazon’s Zoox.

It is also investigating Elon Musk’s Tesla over its Autopilot driver assistance program.

In its announcement, Waymo stressed the safety of its autonomous ride-hailing service, both in cutting the number of traffic accidents as well as increasing people’s personal safety.

Waymo One

Waymo also confirmed that the Waymo One service now available to everyone in San Francisco, nearly four years after a similar move in Phoenix, Arizona.

“We’ve been operating in San Francisco for years now, deliberately scaling our service over time,” said the firm. “With tens of thousands of weekly trips, our Waymo One service provides safe, sustainable, and reliable transportation to locals and visitors to the city alike.”

“Now it’s available to anyone,” it said, adding that 30 percent of Waymo rides in San Francisco are to local businesses.

Additionally, 36 percent of its SF riders used Waymo to connect to other forms of transit in the city, such as BART or Muni.

Waymo pointed out that its fleet is all-electric and sources 100 percent renewable energy from the City’s CleanPowerSF program.

Long road

Google had first begun carrying out autonomous Waymo rides on the streets of Palo Alto back in 2009, but actually started its trial program in San Francisco in August 2021.

google driverless car toyota prius by Steve Jurvetson on Wikimedia

The company said that about 300,000 people had signed up to ride with Waymo since it first opened a waitlist in San Francisco, signalling strong demand in the Californian city.

But San Francisco was not the first. It had first launched a trial ride-hailing service in 2017 in Phoenix, but in 2020 it introduced fully autonomous public rides in the Arizonia city without a waitlist.

Waymo said in March it was beginning to offer free driverless robotaxi services to select members of the public in Los Angeles.