Chinese cities regulate car-hailing

A Chinese mobile phone user uses the taxi-hailing app Didi Chuxing on her smartphone. Photo: Xinhua

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou regulated car-hailing services Wednesday, keeping most of the strict requirements seen in previous drafts of the new rules.

All the city governments continue to require drivers to be official residents of their cities and drive locally registered vehicles, making it very difficult for people and vehicles from other cities to work there.

Beijing and Shanghai have slightly lowered the requirements for vehicles which were raised substantially in the drafts, while Guangzhou kept the same requirements as in the draft.

All three sets of regulations took effect on Wednesday, with a five-month transitional period in Beijing.

The regulations were drafted in early October and sent out for public opinion, Beijing receiving 9,246 responses, Shanghai 1,417 and Guangzhou 957.

Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport (BMCT) said 70 percent of the respondents understood or agree with local registration for drivers and vehicles, while only 12 percent expressed doubts.

Ma Rui, deputy director of the BMCT, said that during the opinion collection period only 25 percent of the suggestions opposed the regulation on drivers' household registration.

However, BMCT officials said its rules take the capital's 21.7 million population, air quality, traffic jams and public transport facilities into consideration.

The Beijing traffic authority requires sedans offering online-booking services to have an engine displacement of more than 1.8 liters and a wheelbase longer than 265 centimeters, in an effort to differentiate those offering online-booking services from traditional taxis.

Efficient public transportation should leave online hailing as a minor commuting method, said Zhou Zhengyu, director of BMCT, "Our goal is to increase green commuting for sustainable development."

Similar changes were made in Shanghai. Compared with previous draft rules, the minimum wheelbase of vehicles allowed to offer car-hailing services was lowered from 270 cm to 260 cm, and applies to vehicles fueled by gasoline and renewable energy.

China's largest online car-hailing platform Didi Chuxing submitted written comments, calling modifications to the draft "more reasonable and relaxed."

More than 17 million flexible work and income opportunities were provided in 2016 on its ride-sharing platform, where more than 2.07 million Didi and Uber China drivers make on average 160 yuan ($23) every day, Didi said.

China legalized online car-booking services in November 1, but left it to local authorities to impose eligibility requirements on service providers.

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