Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing plans to trial a limited relaunch of its carpooling service in seven cities later this month, more than a year after it suspended the Hitch service following two high-profile murders of female passengers.
The company announced Tuesday on its official WeChat public account that it will restart the service in the cities of Harbin, Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang, and Changzhou on Nov. 20. Shenyang, Beijing, and Nantong will see the service return on Nov. 29.
Hitch announced a “rectification plan,” in July, and has conducted online public appraisals since then by asking both drivers and passengers for opinions on the service’s future, the announcement said. “We hope that Hitch will shoulder the responsibility of creating value for public mobility, and provide a safe, affordable, friendly, and environmentally friendly mobility service for our vast number of users,” it added.
Didi said that Hitch will operate a restricted service that will only be available between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. during the trial period. Female passengers will only be able to use it between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Only journeys of less than 50 kilometers within municipal areas will be allowed.
The revamped Hitch will also include safety-enhancing new features like a searchable list of people considered untrustworthy drivers, as well as an upgraded system for evaluating drivers on the basis of passenger feedback, Didi said.
Last August, a Hitch driver named Zhong Yuan raped and murdered a woman surnamed Zhao in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. The killing, which came three months after the similar murder of a female Hitch customer in central China’s Henan province, sparked public fury against Didi and led to an official probe into the company’s safety mechanisms. Didi indefinitely suspended Hitch later in August.
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