Didi’s Hitch service returns, but only for same-sex rides

Society & Culture

Didi Chuxing — China’s biggest on-demand transport and ride-hailing company — announced on June 13 that this Friday, it will resume late-night and early-morning service for its carpool feature, known as Hitch. However, the revamped service will only allow drivers to pick up passengers of the same sex.

On May 12, Didi suspended Hitch from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. to “assess the feasibility of protecting the safety of both drivers and riders in late hours,” following a sensational murder case in May where a 21-year-old flight attendant was reportedly raped and murdered after she hailed a car using Hitch.

According to Didi’s statement (in Chinese), only same-sex rides are allowed on the Hitch platform from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. The restriction does not apply during regular hours, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

In addition, Didi said that it would start testing in some areas next week an “escort mode,” which allows passengers to share their routes in real time with emergency contacts and check drivers’ photos and car information before rides. Didi also revealed that a new feature to record conversations during rides would be launched later this month.

In an online poll (in Chinese) about the new policy, around 75 percent of more than 600 respondents said they were in favor of Didi limiting late-hour rides to same-sex rides. “Didi is showing some effort,” one internet user wrote (in Chinese).

But on Weibo, many people argued (in Chinese) that the new measure was still far from satisfactory given that female passengers might face difficulties in getting a ride since women only account for 10 percent of all drivers and car owners on the platform. Some also brought up the fact that Didi’s verification process is flawed, and that many male drivers have faked their identities by registering as female drivers.

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