Matching at Scoop: how we build matches you’ll love

Update: This article may contain information that is currently out of date given the COVID-19 pandemic. Please take a moment to review our Health & Safety Guidelines for our most up-to-date policies.

Here at Scoop, we’re dedicated to connecting commuters with co-workers and neighbors to make the commute a more meaningful and enjoyable part of the day. Every day, commuters make new connections in Scoop carpools. They meet their neighbors for the first time. They find a mentor. They build sustainable connections in their community.

Scoop is defined by its community of commuters just like you. At the core of how we bring our community together is the Scoop matching algorithm. The Scoop matching algorithm enables us to get as many people as possible into carpools they’ll love every day. It helps us find the best balance between a high number of carpools, while also ensuring these trips are enjoyable for everyone involved.

The basics of making a match

If you already have a few trips under your (seat)belt, this section should sound familiar. Looking for a deeper dive on how matching works? Skip to the next section.

Scheduling deadline

Before we begin making matches, we ensure that there is a large enough volume of carpoolers available to make those matches. Morning trip requests must be submitted by 9:00 p.m. the previous night. Afternoon trips must be submitted by 3:00 p.m. that afternoon.

By setting a scheduling deadline, we’re able to review a larger group of commuters for matching. This improves our ability to match all carpoolers who request trips for their morning or afternoon commutes. A scheduling deadline gives carpoolers peace of mind around how they’ll get to work in the morning and home in the evening. Separate deadlines for morning and afternoon trips also provide flexibility for carpoolers, depending on their daily schedule.


The role you select when requesting a trip will determine how we match you into a carpool. Typically, trips consist of one Driver, and up to two Riders.

  • Driver: If you choose to drive, we’ll try and match you with up to two Riders. Learn more about scheduling as a Driver here.
  • Rider: If you choose to ride, we’ll try and match you with a Driver and up to one other Rider. Learn more about scheduling as a Rider here.
  • Either: If you have access to a car and have the flexibility to carpool as either a Driver or Rider, we can try to match you in either mode. We will always prioritize matching you in your preferred carpool mode. Learn more about carpooling as either a Driver or Rider here.
Want to learn more about how roles factor into matching? Read An Analysis of Modal Flexibility in Carpool Matching Systems by Scoop software engineer Robert Regué.


When you sign up for Scoop, we ask for your Home and Work address to determine if Scoop is available in your area. If it is, you’ll be able to start requesting trips right away.

In addition to Home and Work, you can add in different addresses like your gym or grocery store to accommodate changes to your routine. Every address combination you add will have a different route and a different likelihood of matching. Not surprisingly, areas with a high number of carpoolers will have increased options for matching.

For example, scheduling a trip from Work to Home might have more opportunities for matching because your coworkers and neighbors frequently use Scoop. However, scheduling a trip from Work to a non-residential area might be challenging if your fellow commuters don’t typically head that direction in the afternoon.

Pickup time

The pickup time is when the carpool will begin.

For Riders, the pickup time is when you would like a Driver to pick you up.

For Drivers, the pickup time is when you will pick up a Rider, not when you would like to leave to pick up a Rider.

On average, when a carpooler selects a wide time range (+45 minutes), the number of matches available significantly improve. You may also notice some times are labeled as “popular” on the scheduling screen. These are the times that have the most carpoolers. Select these times and you’ll have more options when finding a carpool.

Widening your time range also allows you to select a time preference within the range. This feature gives you even more opportunities to customize your carpools without reducing your ability to match. Learn more about time ranges here.

A look inside the matcher

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of matching, let’s take a closer look at how matches are created.

Finding the best matches available

If you’ve been carpooling with Scoop for a while, you might notice that your matches are not the same every day, even if you always select the same pickup time, the same role, and the same pickup and drop-off locations. Why is that?

When Scoop makes matches for morning and afternoon carpools, we consider all matches possible across all carpoolers. This means that the best match available for you can change from trip to trip.

For example, on Monday evening, Nico requests a Tuesday morning trip as a Driver. His selected time range is 7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. and his route is from Home to Work. At 9:08 p.m., he matches with two Riders, Katie and David, for a 7:45 a.m. pickup time.

However, on Wednesdays, Nico works from home and does not use Scoop. Since Nico is unavailable to match with Katie and David, Scoop will consider other matches for both Katie and David to ensure they are able to get to work.

Backtracking and detours

Sometimes, the best match available for you might not feel like a good match. We always prioritize making matches that minimize backtracking or detours, while still ensuring that as many carpoolers as possible are able to match.

A detour is when a route requests that you go out of your way in order to pick up or drop off a Rider. Backtracking occurs when a match requests that you go in the opposite direction of your destination in order to pick up or drop off a Rider. While backtracking can seem frustrating, it’s often faster than a lengthy detour that is on the way to your destination.

Three-person carpools

Some routes require a three-person carpool in order to take advantage of HOV/carpool lanes. We know what a perk it is to be able to use the carpool lane when hitting rush hour traffic. As such, we prioritize matching carpoolers on HOV-friendly routes in three-person carpools.

How you can help Scoop find matches you’ll love

We want to ensure that we’re matching you in carpools you love. Here’s how you can help us do that.

Favorite your fellow Carpoolers

Imagine that you matched in your morning commute with Yarin and Lili. As you get in the car, you notice that Yarin is wearing a t-shirt with your favorite band’s logo on it. As it turns out, all three of you share the same taste in music, and you spend the whole ride talking about an upcoming music festival and the lineup of artists playing. Time flies by. You arrive at work with some new music recommendations and feel refreshed and ready to take on the day.

If you wanted to increase your chances of carpooling with Yarin and Lili again, the best way to do that would be to mark them as a favorite in the app. If your favorite is available the next time you request a trip, we will try to match you with them. If your favorite also favorites you, that will also increase the chances of us matching the two of you together again in the future.

Set a route preference (Driver only)

If you carpool as a Driver and find you are matched on a route you do not like, you have the ability to customize your route preferences so you do not match on that route again. You can do this right after you are matched, or after you complete a trip. Learn more about route preferences on our blog.

Placing several route preferences might impact our ability to find you a match. We recommend avoiding route blocks near addresses you frequently go to and from.

Scoop is growing every day. As more and more people carpool with Scoop, we are able to make better matches more frequently. We also adjust and tune our matching algorithm to ensure that commuters are continuing to match in carpools they love.

Have lingering questions about matching? We’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at