Chinese ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing on Monday suspended inter-city transport to and from Beijing only weeks after the service resumed in late May, as the capital banned inter-city ride-hailing amid rising Covid-19 cases.
Why it matters: Didi’s recent move is the latest to stem a second wave of coronavirus infections in Beijing. A rollback in the demand for urban transit including ride-hailing is expected, as authorities re-impose strict bans on travel and public events.
- Chinese mobility services including Alibaba’s online mapper Autonavi, Hellobike, and Nio-backed Dida have taken similar moves at the request of local regulators.
- Local health authorities reported 31 newly identified coronavirus cases for June 16, bringing the accumulated number of infections since Thursday to 137. Total cases have reached 557 as of Tuesday, reported CGTN.
Details: Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport on Monday issued a notice to local ride-hailing platforms to halt inter-city operations immediately, without revealing a date to resume operation.
- A Didi spokeswoman said the company has suspended the services in response to the government, while passenger transport within the national capital, including Express and carpooling service Hitch remain in operation.
- The suspension came after only a few days of resuming as the city’s public transit system “returned to normal,” which means vehicles, buses, and metros could be fully loaded beginning on June 1, according to a government notice (in Chinese).
- Previously, Didi’s inter-city services to and from Beijing had ground to a halt for months since late January when coronavirus cases started climbing across China.
Context: The Beijing municipal government on late Tuesday announced it has raised its emergency response level from three to two, re-imposing measures that forbid public gatherings and shut school, as well as applying strict travel restrictions to local residents. The load factor for the city’s public transit was lowered from 100% to 75%.
- The global mobility-as-a-service market has been hit hard due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with market value expected to reach $69 billion this year, a 39% slash from pre-Covid estimates, consultancy AlixPartners wrote in a recent report.
- Didi also reportedly suspended ride-hailing services in at least more than 20 domestic cities and counties, including Wuhan, in late January.
- In mid-February, ride-hailing platforms took a series of measures in an effort to resume operation, including installing protective plastic sheets in taxis, daily temperature checks for drivers, and regular vehicle disinfection.
- China’s Ministry of Transport in early April said all domestic cities and counties from 31 Chinese provinces have fully resumed road public transit. Didi restarted ride-hailing services in Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic on April 30, ending its three-month stoppage.
Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Didi suspended its inter-city service to and from Beijing only a week after resumption in late May. It should have read “only weeks.”