Didi Chuxing is rolling out a number of temporary measures aimed at ensuring an adequate number of cars on the road and passenger safety during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday, following meetings requested by Chinese authorities.
Why it matters: The latest requirements from authorities signal that Beijing is looking to tighten control over local ride-hailing platforms to improve security and broaden its availability to the public, which may drive mounting operating costs.
- In a recent announcement released by China’s Ministry of Transport, four central government departments on Monday warned ride-sharing platforms Didi and Nio founder William Li-backed Dida to guarantee driver supply and strengthen safety, especially for carpooling services, during the spring rush.
Details: To entice drivers to continue working through the holiday, Didi will impose a surcharge ranging from RMB 1 to RMB 9 (around $0.15 to $1.30) per trip during the two weeks starting Jan. 21. The surcharge will “go directly” to the driver, the company said in an announcement released Monday.
- Additional cash bonuses, in the form of red packets, will also be given to drivers in more than 280 domestic cities across China over the next three weeks to encourage them to work during the festival.
- The ride-hailing giant has poured money into such bonuses over the past three years, and in early 2018 spent RMB 1 billion ($158 million) on driver red packets for the holiday, according to a CGTN report. It has dropped mention of spending on Spring Festival bonuses since then.
- Meanwhile, Didi has established a “Holiday Season Safety Command Center” to operate for a 40-day period starting Jan. 10, the company said in a statement released Friday.
- Led by Didi CEO Cheng Wei and president Jean Liu, the interim working group will include team leaders, customer service team, and emergency management officers who will work on a 24-hour rotating shift schedule to handle urgent requests.
- As part of the initiative, Didi said it is looking into new ways to prevent safety issues especially for long road trips, including an artificial intelligence-powered driver fatigue detection system which alerts drivers with voice messages to take short breaks.
Context: Concerns about the safety issues on ride-hailing platforms have remained a public concern, with news headlines continuing to recall violent incidents inflicted on passengers.
- Chinese media reported in late October that a driver on transport platform Hellobike was arrested in the southern city of Foshan after allegedly threatening a female passenger with a knife for money.