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2019-11-06 HKT 22:20
Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said on Wednesday it was reinstating a carpooling service suspended on the mainland last year after two female passengers were murdered by drivers, but critics slammed new safety rules as discriminatory against women.
While men can use the revamped "Hitch" service – which is separate from Didi's main ride-hailing platform – until 11pm, women will only be able to use it between 5pm and 8pm at night.
In a statement on social media platform Weibo, Didi said it had added 330 "feature optimisations" in the 435 days since the service was suspended, and received 300,000 suggestions from users.
The new pilot operation will be launched in seven cities this month, Didi said, and will offer users "safe, economical, friendly and environmentally friendly ways to travel."
As part of its new safety drive, Didi will also limit the length of journeys available in the carpool service to less than 50 kilometres.
The news that women will only be able to use the services for a few hours a day met with angry reactions online.
"It's disgusting. I get the point. The root cause of sex crimes is that women go out at night," said one Weibo user.
"If the driver grabs money, do you want to tell the passengers not to take valuables with them?" wrote another.
"This is called discrimination," raged a third.
Responding to criticism, a Didi spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company aimed to "extend full service to all Hitch riders and drivers as we continue to improve on product and safety functions." (AFP)