Govt puts brakes on car-hail­ing

New rules to throw out non-lo­cal cars, driv­ers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - MOTORING - LI FUSHENG li­fusheng@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ye X i a o b a i h a s m a d e u p h i s mind to buy a car with a li­cense from neigh­bor­ing He­bei prov­ince, al­though such a car is not al­lowed to go down­town dur­ing rush hour on work days in Beijing.

“It is not a good idea but I have no choice,” said the 29-year-old IT en­gi­neer liv­ing in the cap­i­tal city’s Tongzhou dis­trict.

Ye said he needs a car be­cause his wife is now preg­nant. But, win­ning a Beijing li­cense means you have to be very lucky: only one in ev­ery 745 ap­pli­can­tions won in the Oc­to­ber draw.

He said what prompted him to make the tough de­ci­sion is that the gov­ern­ment has tight­ened con­trols on car-hail­ing ser vices in­clud­ing Didi Chux­ing. Ye and his wife hail a cab through the on­line plat­form to the sub­way sta­tion 7 kilo­me­ters away in the morn­ing and back to home af­ter work in the evening.

On Wed­nes­day, the au­thor­i­ties in Beijing and Shang­hai in­tro­duced new rules that de­mand driv­ers from car-hail­ing plat­forms have lo­cal house­hold regis­tra­tion, that ve­hi­cles must have lo­cal li­cense plates, and that the cars be larger than com­pact ve­hi­cles.

Ye wor­ries the move will slash the num­ber of cars avail­able on the plat­forms. “It is com­mon sense. Ho w m a ny B e ij i n g p e o p l e w h o drive a Volkswagen Passat or Toy­ota Camry will come out to drive as Didi driv­ers?”

Many peo­ple are set to lose their jobs, in­clud­ing Tian Wen­zhang , who moved from Cen­tral China’s He­nan prov­ince to seek his for­tune in Beijing.

“I am not well ed­u­cated and jobs I can do at plants give a monthly pay of about 4,000 yuan($575.5), but driv­ing a Didi car I can earn around 7,000 yuan a month. Now it seems the good days are over,” he said.

“But I am puzzled. If Didi driv­ers have to be lo­cal peo­ple, why not stip­u­late that all con­struc­tion work­ers, wait­resses and break­fast sell­ers should be lo­cals too?”

Didi did not re­lease statis­tics about driv­ers in Beijing, but it said when the two cities re­leased the strin­gent rules for pub­lic opin­ion in Oc­to­ber, that merely 10,000 out of 410,000 driv­ers reg­is­tered in Shang­hai were lo­cals.

The car-hail­ing ser vice gi­ant said it helps 2.07 mil­lion driv­ers to achieve a daily in­come of 160 yuan across the coun­try.

Ma Rui, a se­nior of­fi­cial at the Beijing Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion of Trans­porta­tion, said only 25 per­cent of the sug­ges­tions re­ceived dur­ing the opin­ion col­lec­tion pe­riod op­posed reg­u­la­tion on driv­ers’ house­hold regis­tra­tion.

But, ex­per ts have voiced their doubts about the new reg­u­la­tions. Zhu Wei, a com­mu­ni­ca­tion law re­searcher at the China Uni­ver­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law, said the au­thor­i­ties should make pub­lic the sources and con­tent of the sug­ges­tions they have col­lected.

Zhang Xu, an auto and trans­port an­a­lyst at con­sult­ing firm Analysys, told on­line news por­tal Ifeng that the trans­port au­thor­i­ties do not take the mar­ket de­mand for carhail­ing ser­vice into con­sid­er­a­tion.

Statis­tics show that there are now 66,000 taxis in Beijing, merely 10,000 more than 20 years ago, w h i l e t h e c i t y ’s p o p u l a t i o n h a s dou­bled in the same pe­riod to 21.7 mil­lion.

As it is usu­ally dif­fi­cult to get a taxi in the city, es­pe­cially when the weather is bad, car-hail­ing apps be­came pop­u­lar among peo­ple thanks to quicker re­sponses and more pleas­ant ride ex­pe­ri­ence. They have there­fore af­fected taxi driv­ers’ in­come. The trans­port au­thor­i­ties said the new reg­u­la­tions are not aimed at lo­cal pro­tec­tion, but are de­signed to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their ser­vices from taxis.

Zhou Zhengyu, head of the Beijing trans­port com­mis­sion, said: “We are mak­ing ef­forts to in­te­grate the devel­op­ment of the tra­di­tional taxi in­dus­try and car-hail­ing in­dus­try.

He said that un­like many other coun­tries, China has al­ready given le­gal sta­tus to car-hail­ing ser­vices.

The reg­u­la­tions in Shang­hai have taken ef­fect and the au­thor­i­ties in Beijing have de­cided to give a five-month buf­fer for car-hail­ing driv­ers like Tian.

“I have no idea what I will do af­ter the five months. Maybe I will be­come an un­li­censed cab driver like those you find wait­ing for clients at sub­way sta­tions or try my luck in other jobs.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from car-hail­ing ser­vice provider Shouqi Limou­sine & Chauf­feur sub­mit ma­te­ri­als to ap­ply for li­censes af­ter the new rules were is­sued in Beijing.

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