China's Didi halts late-night rides for a week, launches safety revamp after passenger murder

Didi will also expand its in-house customer service team to 8,000 members by the end of the year.
Didi will also expand its in-house customer service team to 8,000 members by the end of the year.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said Tuesday (Sept 4) that it would halt most late-night ride services for a week as it tries to reassure the public following the rape and murder of a passenger.

The company has been slammed by passengers and regulators, including China's transport ministry, after a 20-year-old passenger was raped and murdered by her driver in the eastern city of Wenzhou last month, the second such killing this year.

The company will roll out a series of new safety measures starting on Tuesday and halt most late-night ride services starting on Saturday for a week, said a company statement.

"Didi Chuxing will do its utmost to strictly meet the bottom line of safety and effectively cooperate with regulators' oversight requests," the company said.

New measures include safety education for drivers, with a "safety knowledge test" to pass before driving every day, upgrades to a police call button and experiments with sound recording of the entire ride.

Didi will also expand its in-house customer service team to 8,000 members by the end of the year.

They add to other measures already taken since the passenger murder but which have failed to calm public anger and fears or stem concerns from regulators.

 
 

Those include suspending its Hitch service, which links up commuters travelling in the same direction, and a pledge to upgrade its SOS button and itinerary sharing functions, among other steps.

Didi Chuxing - which muscled Uber out of China in 2016 after a bruising battle - says it has 30 million drivers and more than 550 million users across its various services.