Lifestyle

Like GrabHitch, But On Telegram: This New Carpooling Service Offers S'poreans A "Cheaper Alternative"

  • Telegram group called ‘SG Hitch’ offers carpooling services in Singapore
  • It has been set up to help provide a “cheaper alternative” following the termination of late-night GrabHitch services
  • The platform serves only as a “bridge between drivers and hitchers” to facilitate matching
  • Fares are not fixed, and are subject to mutual agreement

Last year, ride-hailing company Grab disabled its GrabShare and GrabHitch services between 1am and 5am, citing safety concerns for its drivers.

This has inadvertently pushed users to book their more expensive ride options such as JustGrab services.

To put things into perspective, GrabShare rides are up to 35 per cent cheaper than JustGrab, while GrabHitch is 20 to 40% cheaper than taxi fares.

So as a workaround, a Telegram group called SG Hitch has been set up in February 2019 to “provide a cheaper alternative [to riders] with the demolition of late-night GrabHitch services”.

With over 5,000 members already onboard, the group strictly claims that it only “serves as a bridge between drivers and hitchers” and operates on a voluntary basis.

How Does It Work?

There are currently 190 drivers and 248 hitchers on the platform.

Screenshot of messages on ‘SG Hitch’

Those looking to hitch a ride have to leave a message on the chat stating details such as a) pick-up and drop-off point b) pick-up time c) number of riders (up to 4 people).

Keen drivers who are willing to accept the hitch request are to personally message the said rider via Telegram and discuss the pricing.

Fares are not fixed, and both driver and hitcher have the right to reject if price is not acceptable. In other words, the price is set based on “mutual agreement”.

Drivers can also choose to offer the ride for free out of goodwill.

Another thing worth noting is that there is zero commission fee for the drivers, and the group itself also do not stand to earn anything from offering this service.

SG Hitch emphasises that the group’s sole purpose is to “help hitchers find a cheaper ride” and for “drivers [to earn] extra cash for coffee, cover fuel cost, or just be a kind soul.”

Is This Illegal Though?

Singaporeans love anything ‘cheap’ or ‘free’, but before you blindly jump onto this platform, there are some things worth discussing about this platform.

Firstly, this platform is not approved by the Land Transport Authority and is not regulated or governed.

While SG Hitch says that drivers must possess a valid driving license, there is no proper system in place to check if the driver is indeed licensed or have insurance to drive the car.

Moreover, there is no minimum age or minimum driving experience imposed on SG Hitch drivers.

If the rider’s safety is compromised, how do they work on tracking down the driver?

Drivers’ vehicle details are not registered on the platform, and riders cannot even complain to SG Hitch if anything goes wrong since they’ve already claimed that they will not be “liable for any disputes, accidents or issues arising from any rides.”

While the intentions of the platform is indeed good, riders who are still keen on trying out the platform have to bear the consequences at their own risk.

 

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