Didi to relaunch hitchhiking service this month

Critics slam revamped Didi Chuxing carpool service

Critics slam revamped Didi Chuxing carpool service

Didi's booth at WAIC Shanghai on Aug 30, 2019.

The Chinese ride-hailing giant announced that, starting from November 20, the new Hitch service will be tested in seven Chinese cities including Harbin, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, Chanzhou, Shenyang, Beijng and Nantong (the latter three cities will begin testing on November 29).

Didi's Hitch carpool service, which will relaunch in several Chinese cities on Nov 20, will operate for all passengers daily until 8:00 p.m., it said.

The murders sparked outrage from the public and prompted regulators to launch an industry-wide crackdown aimed at improving safety in the ride-hailing industry.

However, while men would be able to use the service between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m., women would not be permitted to hail Hitch rides after 8 p.m.

The announcement led to widespread ridicule on social media from users who described it as sexist. Didi is also piloting a women's safety program which is expected to be introduced to other services of the company too. However, after receiving criticism from its users, Didi quickly changed this time policy, now allowing all passengers to use the ride-sharing service from 5am to 8pm.

Didi has struggled with the fallout of last years' murders, pivoting from pushing for growth to an increased focus on safety.

The company says it will be relaunched with new safety features and stricter verification of driver and passenger identities.

The focus on safety has had a significant effect on the company, resulting in reported losses of almost RMB 11 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2018.

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