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LTA checking if GrabHitch plans comply with regulations

SINGAPORE — Days after Grab announced it will offer its social-carpooling service GrabHitch as a secondary option to commuters on its JustGrab service, the authorities are evaluating if the move complies with the rules.

The Land Transport Authority is in discussions with Grab, to see if the service GrabHitch is in line with regulations. Reuters file photo

The Land Transport Authority is in discussions with Grab, to see if the service GrabHitch is in line with regulations. Reuters file photo

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SINGAPORE — Days after Grab announced it will offer its social-carpooling service GrabHitch as a secondary option to commuters on its JustGrab service, the authorities are evaluating if the move complies with the rules.

In a statement last night, a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesperson said it was “in discussions with Grab on (its) proposal to add GrabHitch as an option on JustGrab, to assess if it complies with the regulations”.

On Tuesday, TODAY reported that the ride-hailing firm plans to offer GrabHitch rides as a secondary option on JustGrab, which comprises taxis and private-hire cars, in the coming weeks.

This means commuters will be redirected to GrabHitch when all taxis or private-hire cars are taken and there is a suitable match.

The LTA said GrabHitch rides are “carpooling trips” exempted from regulations that apply to private-hire car services, but certain conditions must be followed.

Each driver, for example, is limited to two carpooling trips a day. “The fees collected for each carpooling trip should also not exceed what is required to cover the costs incurred for making that trip,” the LTA spokesperson added.

Grab had said that under the move, riders will still pay GrabHitch fares, which are between 20 per cent and 40 per cent lower than taxi fares.

It also stressed that the arrangement was “within regulatory guidelines”.

GrabHitch comprises private-car owners who offer lifts to passengers who make advance bookings at “not-for-profit” fees to cover drivers’ petrol costs, for instance. Right now, GrabHitch rides have to be booked 15 minutes to seven days in advance.

Grab’s Singapore country head Lim Kell Jay, 34, had told TODAY that the service would be “on demand” as a secondary option on JustGrab. The plan is to offer GrabHitch as a secondary option on GrabTaxi and GrabCar, too.

The move, he said, will see the pool of vehicles available to commuters double to more than 100,000, up from the over 50,000 vehicles when JustGrab was launched in March.

Unlike private-hire car drivers, GrabHitch drivers do not require the Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence.

Last month, Grab announced it was raising US$2.5 billion (S$3.4 billion) in a record round of new fund-raising, and Mr Lim told TODAY that transport and payments were its key areas of focus.

By next month, its GrabPay payment platform will allow users to transfer credit to other users, paving the way for greater adoption of the service which the company ultimately hopes will be used in shopping and other transactions.

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