Waymo’s Self-Driving Taxis Now Available to All in San Francisco

Waymo begins a new era, aiming for widespread public acceptance of self-driving taxis in San Francisco

Graham Hope

June 25, 2024

3 Min Read

Waymo’s self-driving taxis are now available for everyone in San Francisco

The company, owned by Google parent Alphabet, hailed the breakthrough as a “key milestone” in its effort to scale its operations.

Until now, anyone wishing to ride in Waymo’s autonomous Jaguar I-Pace SUVs in the city had to sign up to the company’s waitlist, before being greenlit – a process that could take weeks, or even months.

That requirement has been removed and now the firm’s driverless cabs can be ordered by anyone who downloads the Waymo app and signs up, just as with a conventional ride-hailing company.

The opening up of the service marks the start of a new era for Waymo in its bid for self-driving taxis to gain widespread public acceptance in the city – but also the end of a journey where it has taken a deliberately cautious approach to rolling out its service.

Over the past few years, it has gradually expanded its offering, first providing rides for “trusted testers” – approved riders who signed non-disclosure agreements –  before offering driverless rides to staff.

August 2023 saw a major step forward when the California Public Utilities Commission granted Waymo and General Motors-owned Cruise permission to operate commercial driverless services 24/7 in the city, despite complaints that self-driving taxis were causing traffic chaos and getting in the way of first responder vehicles.

Related:Waymo Offering Driverless Rides to San Francisco Employees

Since then, the companies have been on a vastly different trajectory, with Cruise suffering a well documented array of setbacks and problems following an incident in San Francisco in October where a pedestrian was badly injured. 

Waymo, on the other hand, has been able to continue to expand in other areas of California, although it has faced heightened scrutiny from regulators itself after some unusual incidents involving its AVs and has also attracted unwanted attention, such as when one of its taxis was attacked and destroyed in February.

Despite this, Waymo has become a familiar presence in San Francisco, and in a blog post it reported: “In total, nearly 300,000 people, including those who live, work, and visit San Francisco, have signed up to ride with Waymo since we first opened a waitlist — more than a quarter of the city’s population. 

“We’ve been welcoming new riders to the service incrementally and we are now excited to open it up to everyone.”

It currently operates a fleet of around 300 self-driving taxis in the city, with a further 400 or so deployed across Phoenix and Los Angeles, as well as its testing locations. Around 50,000 rides a week are provided across its three main urban hubs.

Related:Cruise, Waymo Get OK for Self-Driving Taxi Fleets in San Francisco

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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