Fares surge as Beijing hits brakes on illegal ride-hailing services, drivers

Updated 2017-01-19 09:22:23 Global Times

Many Beijing commuters told the Global Times that fees have surged in recent weeks for online private car-booking services, and many said they had shifted to other alternatives.

On December 21, Beijing and Shanghai published detailed rules on online car-booking services, requiring private car drivers offering rides to have city household registrations and city license plates. The rules made the vast majority of drivers or vehicles that had been offering such services ineligible.

Beijing left a five-month transition period for ride-sharing platforms to adapt.

With the introduction of the regulations, media reports said that online car-booking apps are scaling back subsidies and raising fares.

Online car-hailing platform Didi Chuxing, China's largest such operator, told the Global Times on Wednesday that it is "working to introduce adaptive measures gradually to comply with varying local regulations, as well as updating and assisting driver-partners as new information comes along."

As for complaints about fares, the company said the operation of its algorithm-based dynamic pricing is under continuous monitoring and it also has a built-in mechanism in its algorithms to cap the price multiples during dynamic pricing periods to protect users.

"My trip from home to work using Didi's private car service before cost about 17 yuan (.5). Now it is double that. I shifted to other means of travel as a result,"a Beijing resident surnamed Chen told the Global Times Wednesday.

"Now we're in the five-month transition period, but Didi Chuxing hasn't phased us out according to our information stored in its database. I am doing business as usual, although not as a full-time job as I did before, and I heard from my circle of friends that occasionally Beijing traffic police will nail down ineligible cars," a driver who declined to be identified told the Global Times Wednesday.

His car meets the city's regulations, but he does not have a Beijing household registration.

"I understand the transition period to be one of 'you can do it, but we can nail you, too.' Once caught, a fine of 20,000 yuan is said to be charged and the car would be temporarily confiscated," the driver said.

"The hefty fine is making me think twice about whether to keep doing this,"he said.

On Tuesday night, the Beijing traffic authority began its "first crackdown on illegal cars from online platforms" to insure market order, the Beijing Youth Daily reported on Wednesday.

The crackdown focused on vehicles without Beijing license plates and drivers without Beijing household registrations, and it involved 37 locations around train stations and airports.

More than 17 million flexible work and income opportunities were provided in 2016 on Didi's ride-sharing platform, where more than 2.07 million Didi and Uber China drivers make 160 yuan on average every day, Didi said in December.

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