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A new directive from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) prohibits private motorists in offering “hitch-a-ride services” to commuters and those who do so will have their motorbike’s insurance coverage declared void.

The act is considered illegal and the agency “strongly encourages commuters to use taxis or licensed private-hire cars for point-to-point transport.”

The said prohibition was an immediate response to  a Telegram chat group, set up about two weeks ago to facilitate motorbike pooling services which has garnered more than 2,000 members.

Based on The Straits Times verification efforts, it was found that the group began operating on Oct 4. It gained over 2,500 members as of noon last Wednesday.

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But after the group’s administrators removed and banned members who did not display a photo of themselves, the numbers fell. As of yesterday evening, the group’s membership has decreased to roughly 2,080 people.

In its latest message to the group yesterday, an administrator again warned that privatised Telegram accounts without a display picture would be banned from the group. Users are also automatically greeted with a message on the rules.

One rule is that any damage arising from any transaction will be borne by the rider and pillion rider.

In a message last week, the group administrators warned members not to mention that there is monetary reward in the transaction if they are stopped for checks during trips.

Those who fail to comply with the rules will be banned from the group. They can get the ban lifted by paying a S$30 fee, which they can do only once.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said: “Not all motorbike riders can take a pillion rider because they may not have the experience. Motorbike sharing for commercial purposes is also likely to breach insurance policy.”

If a pillion rider is injured or killed in an accident, there may be limited recourse for damages because the insurance will be denied, he added.

Nobody should take that kind of risk, Mr Chuan said.-/TISG

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