The first officially sanctioned taxi-hailing application in Beijing went online on Tuesday amid efforts to regulate the growing transportation service sector in the capital.
More than 15,000 Beijing taxis are cooperating with the new mobile-based app, called Feidi, Wang Runnan, technical director of Beijing Qihua Smart Transportation Co, the app's developer, said on Tuesday.
Wang said the company will work on expanding the coverage to include all 60,000 Beijing taxi drivers.
Passengers can call for a taxi immediately or book one in advance through the app, which is based on the Beijing 96106 taxi hotline, the unified booking line since 2013, which has over 1.93 million users, according to Beijing Qihua Smart Transportation.
In recent months, commercial booking apps such as Didi Kuaidi, China's largest mobile-based car-booking company, and the US company Uber have attracted more passengers than the hotline.
In the second quarter, Didi Kuaidi had an 82 percent share of e-hailing service market, and Uber followed with about 15 percent, according to a report by Yiguan Consultancy Co, which specializes in e-commerce.
On a national level, the ministries of transportation, public security and other related authorities have recently talked with four e-hailing service providers, including Didi Kuaidi and Uber, requiring them to improve their management and make adjustments.
In Beijing, the Transportation Bureau summoned Didi Kuaidi and Uber managers for talks several times in the past three months, most recently on July 23.
The bureau said some noncommercial and rental vehicles have violated passenger-carrying regulations and some drivers were accused of tax evasion. Moreover, these vehicles have increased traffic congestion in the capital.
This year, a Beijing Transportation Bureau law enforcement team found 2,147 illegal vehicles shuttling passengers for profit, and over 1,200 of them were working through Didi Kuaidi.
Wang, of Feidi, said, "We will provide booking services that provide better safety" because passengers will get legitimate taxis with legal operational licenses from the transportation authority.
Feidi will make the e-hailing service sector more competitive, said Wang Zhong, head of the China Taxicab and Livery Association.
Taxi driver Sun Hong said she got 17 fares in the past two weeks during a Feidi pilot program, "and that increased my profits".
"I'll support our e-hailing app, of course, but I'll also use the other apps to add to my profits," she said.