What happened: Starting from September 8th, China’s most popular ride-hailing app suspended seven late-night services for a week as it implements new passenger safety measures. Not surprisingly, the temporary suspension led to a surge in taxis and illicit “black cabs” trying to make up the difference. This past weekend in Beijing’s busy Sanlitun neighborhood, taxis were hard to come by and other ride-hailing apps faltered under the large volume of passengers. Social media users in other cities also complained of price-jacking, sometimes to three or four times the normal fare.
Why it’s important: Despite public backlash over the deaths of two passengers this year, Didi remains the country’s biggest ride-hailing company. Its popularity has also helped to supplant or counter phenomena like black cabs and unscrupulous taxi drivers, making life easier for city dwellers. Much as non-Chinese consumers were unsure if they could drop Facebook following the data breach scandal, PRC residents may now be wondering if they’re ready to live in a world without Didi, or another ride-hailing equivalent.