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Didi resumes late-night service with clean-record drivers

Chinese ride-hailing leader expands audio recording after two passengers killed

Didi, hit hard by the killings of two passengers by carpool drivers, has beefed up security measures.    © Reuters

BEIJING -- China's Didi Chuxing has restarted late-night ride-hailing services with new safety measures in place after two female passengers were killed in a span of four months.

The ride-hailing leader will limit late-night trips to drivers who have provided at least 1,000 rides with no issues over a period of six months or longer.

Didi has also introduced audio recording in cars covering nearly 80% of its services, and a tool for passengers to contact the police instantly in emergencies. In addition, almost 7 million people have registered emergency contact information with the company under a new program. 

The company said it has tripled safety staff in its customer service department.

For one week starting Sept. 8, Didi halted its mainstay service from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. in mainland China, as it worked on safety improvements under the direction of police and transportation authorities. The company's Hitch carpooling service, which was involved in both killings, was put on hold Aug. 27 and remains indefinitely suspended.

Hitch drivers killed one passenger in May and a second last month. Didi founder and CEO Cheng Wei apologized in late August, promising to prioritize safety and customer service rather than scale.

Founded in 2012, Didi has built a virtual monopoly in the Chinese market through a series of mergers and acquisitions. With 550 million users and 30 million registered drivers, it provides 30 million rides each day. The company has focused on building a global presence of late, recently expanding into Australia and Latin America.

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