You can soon Grab a car-sharing ride to JB

Company starting cross-border service; fares will be in currency of country of departure

Ride-booking company Grab is to launch a cross-border car-sharing service between Singapore and Johor Baru in Malaysia.

From next Monday, customers will be able to arrange a lift between destinations in either country as long as a driver is nearby.

Passengers can book rides between 30 minutes and seven days in advance. They will be matched with drivers based on similar pick-up and drop-off locations .

Fares from Orchard Road to City Square in Johor Baru, for example, start at $14 while a trip from City Square shopping centre to Woodlands will cost from RM9 (S$3).

They can be paid in cash or by credit card and are aimed at offsetting the driver's cost of petrol.

Fares will be charged in the currency of the country of departure and are based on the distance of the ride as well as a "fixed cross-border surcharge".

The new service is an extension of the carpooling platform GrabHitch, which was launched last November and has more than 2,000 drivers here.

"The high cost of travelling, frequent congestion and lack of point-to-point transportation between Johor Baru and Singapore are compelling reasons for us to introduce the GrabHitch JB-SG service," said Ms Ngiam Xin Wei, head of GrabHitch.

The Causeway and Second Link are among the busiest land checkpoints in the world, with an estimated 400,000 daily crossings in both directions.

Public transport options between Singapore and Malaysia include bus services such as the one between Kranji MRT station and Larkin bus terminal in JB costing $1.50 per trip.

The Shuttle Tebrau train service between Woodlands and JB costs $5.

There are also about 170 taxis licensed to ferry passengers across the border. They charge fixed fares, with a trip from the Queen Street bus terminal to the Larkin bus terminal costing $48.

Bank worker He Shiying, 34, who travels to JB three times a month to shop, said the fares for the new service are reasonable and provide an attractive alternative to driving.

However, she said, she would be concerned about safety if she were travelling alone, and added: "I can't get my data plan in Malaysia, so how would I get a ride back?"

Madam Chan Wah Heng, 58, who is self-employed and travels to JB once every few months, said she would consider using such a service only if it is extended to other locations like Batu Pahat.

"It might still be more convenient to take the public bus because there may be unexpected jams if I take a car," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'You can soon Grab a car-sharing ride to JB'. Print Edition | Subscribe