More ride-hailing restrictions: Chinese coastal city Qingdao on board

Authorities in the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao published on Monday their new regulations for ride-hailing services.

To offer ride-hailing services in Qingdao, drivers must be local residents who have either a local hukou – a form of local city residency that is hard to change after birth – or a “residence permit”, a visa-like permit that allows someone to live in a city which is not his or her birthplace.

Compared with the authorities in Beijing and Shanghai, who demanded earlier this month that all ride-hailing drivers have local hukou, Qingdao seems to be more relaxed. Hukou in big cities are notoriously difficult to acquire for people not born in that location, but resident permits are much more simple.

In addition, male drivers must be under 60 years old, and female drivers, under 55. Prerequisites also include zero criminal records and no drunk driving history.

When it comes to the cars used for ride-hailing, a locally registered license plate is required. More importantly, the cars used for ride-hailing must be no worse – defined by the price of the model of vehicle – than the city’s superior taxis. These “superior” types of taxi use branded cars such as the Volkswagen Passat or the Honda Accord to offer an apparently superior user experience.

For carpooling services, all parties concerned must sign a contract beforehand to “illustrate the rights and responsibilities concerned.” As yet it is too early to see how this will be enforced in practice.

Additionally, a driver is not allowed to offer carpooling services more than twice a day, and the price must be charged in accordance with basic transit expenses like fuel costs, not charged according to time.

While admitting that ride-hailing has offered customers more choices and improved transport efficiency, the regulation points out the problems that have accompanied it, including problems related to the safety of customers and of their private information.

These regulations are officially published as “temporary measures”, but this does not necessarily mean that the regulations will be changed or cancelled very quickly.

Regulations may help ensure the safety for both customers and drivers, but will it also drive away large amounts of customers from the ride-hailing market? We shall see.

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