Carpooling now illegal; operators and chat groups halt services
Carpooling is now illegal after the Transport Ministry revoked a law allowing it under some conditions.
Offenders caught offering carpooling services face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or jail of up to six months under new rules that came into effect yesterday as part of regulations aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19.
Commercial operators and major carpooling chat groups have halted services amid the escalating outbreak, according to checks by The Straits Times.
The largest carpooling chat group here, SG Hitch, with around 56,000 members, was active until yesterday afternoon.
Following the publication of ST's report yesterday, the group banned its members from sending messages and deleted all previous carpool requests.
Drivers are deemed to be carpooling if they use private cars and charge for ferrying passengers, whether from one or multiple pick-up locations.
Carpooling had been allowed as long as drivers collected only enough to cover the cost of a trip. They also could not offer more than two trips a day.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in an advisory on Wednesday that it classified carpooling as a non-essential service, following consultation with the Trade and Industry Ministry.
"This includes non-commercial carpool arrangements between people who do not live in the same residence," said LTA.
Private-hire operators Grab and Ryde have also stopped carpooling services.
Two other chat groups set up to facilitate carpooling - SG Hitch-Premium and SG Hitch Female Drivers Riders, which have more than 1,000 members each - have stopped operations as well. - TOH TING WEI