(ECNS) - The Ministry of Transport has urged regional authorities to review the carpooling business, saying that social networking services of related apps have strayed from its original goal.
Cai Tuanjie, deputy director of the ministry's Transport Service Department, said many carpooling apps have included social networking services in their software in deviance from their core business as a transportation solution provider.
Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing suspended its Hitch service, which pairs up commuters heading the same direction, on May 12 following the death of a 21-year-old woman after taking a ride in central Zhengzhou.
Social networking services of carpooling apps have been controversial after Didi Chuxing started its Hitch service in June 2015, allowing car drivers and users to send comments to each other, often in the form of tags. Didi Chuxing said the purpose was to help drivers and users meet people with similar interests.
Dida Chuxing, a smaller app focused on carpooling, helped its users form interest groups that included travel, but suspended the social networking service on May 13.
A driver said information from social networking helps drivers select users, for example, avoiding drunken people or those with a low in-system evaluation score. But some female users complained that they have been harassed by carpooling drivers.
Zhao Jiyang, who studies at a university in suburban Beijing, said carpooling makes her commute easier and cheaper but she felt uncomfortable when a driver asked for her personal contact information.
Cai also said joint efforts among governmental departments, carpooling service platforms, drivers and passengers to regulate the sector are needed.