Didi trims carpooling service Hitch’s operational hours after accusations of sexual discrimination

Didi’s original plan sparked discussions among women in China as some viewed it as inequitable.

Photo: KrAsia

China’s largest ride-hailing platform Didi Chuxing said on Thursday that it has decided to cut the active daily hours for its revamped carpooling service Hitch for male passengers.

Originally, Hitch would begin service at 5:00 a.m. each day, and run until 11:00 p.m. for men and 8:00 p.m. for women. Following criticisms stemming from discriminatory, gender-based treatment of its users, Didi said it would scale back service for men, ending it at 8:00 p.m. each night as well, according to its official WeChat account.

The company also said it considered extending Hitch’s service hours for women to 11:00 p.m. as well, though abandoned the idea for the sake of passenger safety.

Didi said on Wednesday that it plans to relaunch Hitch at the end of this month in seven cities in China.

The company cited internal data to say that the number of user complaints regarding sexual harassment or assault between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. was 45% higher than between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., while the number of complaints between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. was 465% higher than between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Didi Hitch was created in 2015 as a commuter ride-sharing service for China’s middle class, but was suspended in August 2018 after two women were raped and murdered while using the platform.

Ant Financial-backed Hello Chuxing launched its own hitchhiking business in February, rolling it out in more than 300 cities in China. A woman using Hello Chuxing’s hitchhiking service was robbed by a driver during a ride in October — during daylight hours.