People seeking out illegal hitch rides to JB on social media, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

People seeking out illegal hitch rides to JB on social media

It’s illegal, but that’s not stopping some people from taking hitch rides to cross the Causeway.

Drivers can be found advertising such rides on several social media platforms such as Facebook, Telegram and Xiaohongshu, reported Shin Min Daily News on Dec 2. 

A Shin Min reporter who contacted some of these drivers found that most are charging an average fee of $25 to drive passengers to Johor Bahru. 

Some passengers also use the platforms to search for drivers by stating their pick-up location, date, time and number of passengers. 

One passenger, Ms Zeng, told Shin Min about her experience. She found a hitch driver from a Facebook group to drive her from Singapore to her hometown in Johor.

Said the 47-year-old clerk: “I paid about $33 to go from Woodlands Checkpoint to Kluang. There were about seven people in the car. The driver dropped me off at my doorstep.

"I think many people need this type of service, as buses and cross-border taxis can’t drop passengers off at their doorstep.”

Another woman, Ms Shen, also talked about the “perks” of the illegal service. She said she hires a hitch driver for her elderly mother so the latter can avoid the walk through customs. 

“I was introduced to this service by my friends and I eventually found a driver I was familiar with, so I felt safer hiring him.” 

The 40-year-old executive added that she usually spends about $90 each time, but the amount was no issue as long as she was sure her mother was safe.

While the illegal practice seems to be thriving, it has hurt demand for cross-border taxis.

One cross-border taxi driver who the Chinese evening daily spoke to, Ms Siti, said she used to have to wait about 15 minutes to get a passenger, but that has now increased to 45 minutes. 

Unhappy about the current state of affairs, she said: “We spend $150 on our licence every year, and we have to pay RM60 (S$17) in road tax every six months just to ferry passengers over the border. It feels a bit unfair.”

She explained why her service was less attractive to passengers. She can only drive passengers to the Larkin Central Bus Terminal in Johor Bahru and must use specific routes, she said.

“If we use other routes or drive passengers to their homes in JB, we’ll get fined. It’s the same for Malaysian taxis, they can only send passengers to the Singapore Taxi Terminal at Queen Street.”

In reply to Shin Min’s queries, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said only drivers with a public service vehicle licence are allowed to provide cross-border transport services. 

In May 2022, it approved 240 cross-border taxis to drive passengers to and fro Singapore and Johor. 

LTA reminded members of the public that cross-border hitch drivers found on social media are illegal and urged them to avoid using these services. 

These vehicles may not be insured and passengers may not receive compensation if they were involved in a road accident, added the transport authority. 

Those caught providing illegal paid cross-border passenger services can be fined up to $3,000 and jailed for up to six months. Their vehicles may also be forfeited, said LTA in a statement last April. 

Since 2018, 44 drivers have been caught using foreign-registered vehicles to provide cross-border passenger services. Among them, 13 have been charged in court, with 11 given fines ranging from $1,400 to $2,000. 

LTA also urged members of the public to report illegal hitch services via email or through the One Motoring platform. 


CausewayTAXISJohor Bahrusocial media