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Paid cross-border car-pooling services are against regulations: LTA

[SINGAPORE] The Land Transport Authority(LTA) says free cross-border car-pool rides are legal but collecting money for these rides would contravene regulations.

The LTA said this after ride-sharing firm Grab's announcement of a car-pooling service between Singapore and Johor-Bahru. The LTA said on Monday that it has informed the company that the paid service model "did not comply with regulations in Singapore".

Responding to queries from Channel NewsAsia, an LTA spokesperson said: "Malaysian-registered cars are not allowed to provide hire-and-reward services in Singapore without a public service vehicle license." Likewise, Malaysian regulations do not permit Singaporean registered cars to do the same in Malaysia without a public service vehicle license.

Grab announced the service last Monday (June 13), and even published fare estimates, putting the average cost of a trip at S$12. But on the weekend before the service was due to launch, it said on its website that the service would be a three-week-long fare-free pilot programme.

It also stated that it is currently "engaging with the LTA in Singapore and regulatory authorities in Malaysia" on the use of car-pooling solutions to improve connectivity between Singapore and Johor Bahru.

Illegal paid cross-border ride-sharing services do exist in Singapore, and primarily advertise their services through apps like Facebook and WeChat. Under section 101 of the Road Traffic Act, any person caught using a foreign-registered motor vehicle as an unlicensed public service vehicle to convey passengers for hire and reward can be fined up to $3,000 and jailed up to six months.