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Singapore: Cross-Border Car Sharing Restricted

(June 22, 2016) On June 20, 2016, Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that paid car-sharing services are not permitted to take fares across the border into neighboring Malaysia. That border crossing is considered the busiest in the world, with up to 400,000 people using it each day. (Linette Lim, Paid Cross-Border Car-Pooling Services Are Against Regulations: LTA, CHANNEL NEWS ASIA (June 20, 2016).)

The announcement followed a statement from the ride-sharing firm Grab that it intended to begin service between Singapore and Johor-Bahru, Malaysia. According to the LTA, such services do “not comply with regulations in Singapore.” (Id.) At present, Grab has a pilot program with free cross-border rides, which are legal because no fee is involved. The company planned to eventually charge on average S$12 (about US$8.93) for the ride. (Id.)

The LTA is concerned that the service could involve the use of Malaysian-registered cars, which the LTA states “are not allowed to provide hire-and-reward services in Singapore without a public service vehicle license.” (Id.) Malaysia also does not permit cars registered in Singapore to take fares across the border without the appropriate license. (Id.) Singapore’s Road Traffic Act requires a specific license for operating a taxi service. (Road Traffic Act, Ch. 276, Parts V & VA (1961, rev. ed. Dec. 31, 2004, as amended), SINGAPORE STATUTES ONLINE; see also The Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Vocational Licences and Conduct of Drivers, Conductors, Trishaw Riders and Passengers) Rules (1974, rev. Mar. 25, 1992, as amended), SINGAPORE STATUTES ONLINE.)

At present, cross-border ride-sharing services are operating illegally in Singapore, with advertisements on social media applications. If found to be using a vehicle registered outside of Singapore for unlicensed use as a public service vehicle, a person could be imprisoned for up to six months or fined up to S$3,000 (about US$2,230). (Road Traffic Act, art. 101.)

Ride-Sharing Rules Within Singapore

Singapore does permit domestic use of ride-sharing services, such as Uber, with some restrictions, under a 2015 Order on car pools. (Road Traffic (Car Pools) (Exemption) Order 2015 (effective Mar. 2, 2015), SINGAPORE STATUTES ONLINE.) This Order permits the use of

a private motor car for the carriage of a passenger for hire or reward in the case where —

(a) the person does not solicit for the passenger on a road or at a parking place or a public stand;

(b) the carriage of the passenger is incidental to the person’s use of the private motor car;

(c) the person informs the passenger, before the start of the carriage, of the person’s destination;

(d) the person agrees with the passenger, before the start of the carriage, on the date of, pick‑up and drop‑off points of, and the payment (whether in cash or in kind) for, the carriage;

(e) the amount or the value of any benefit in kind that the person collects from the passenger as payment does not exceed the cost and expenses incurred for the carriage of the passenger;

(f) if there is more than one passenger, the aggregate of the amount or the value of any benefit in kind that the person collects from each of the passengers as payment does not exceed the cost and expenses incurred for the carriage of all the passengers; and

(g) there is nothing in or on the private motor car displaying or referring to the fares for hiring the private motor car. (Id. art. 3 (1).)

The Order also requires that the drivers of the ride-share vehicles not make more than two trips with paying passengers per day. (Id. art. 2 (2).)