Ride-hailing compensation service San Diego Cabbie has expanded their services to all members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community across Southern California after running for approximately three weeks. The donation-based initiative was created to aid AAPI community members who may feel unsafe walking alone or taking public transportation in light of the rise of Anti-Asian hate crimes and xenophobia. Because of the traction that the service has gained, they are also now able to compensate up to $40 in Uber and Lyft transaction fees per ride.
The initiative was founded by Sydney Trieu and Paul Lim, who are both second-year college students attending UC Riverside and Emory University, respectively. The two close friends both grew up in San Diego, and on April 12, Lim reached out to Trieu after learning about Cafe Maddy Cab in New York City with the desire to bring this service back home.
“[Lim] wanted to start the same initiative in San Diego, just because he’s seen his own family and friends scared in the Asian community here. He really wanted to help spread it,” Trieu said. “I thought it was a really great idea, so within two hours of him telling me about it, … I just asked Cafe Maddy for her permission, and we started it in San Diego.”
“The Asian community is really important [to me] just because my entire identity revolves around it and because so many of my friends and family [have] been affected by this pandemic in so many ways, and with the xenophobic attacks,” Trieu said. “It’s been really important to give people a safe platform and just hope for the future.”
San Diego Cabbie does not want the price of a ride-hailing service to discourage someone in need from taking a ride; thus, members of the AAPI community are encouraged to take the ride first, and then fill out their Request Ride Form after. The form includes general questions regarding the purpose and location of the ride, a ride receipt for confirmation, and an optional selfie for verification purposes. The initiative states that only essential rides will be reimbursed and that the cost of the ride must be the only factor that would prevent one from calling a ride otherwise.
“This initiative is really important to me, just because I feel like I’m making a bigger difference in my community and giving back,” Trieu said. “We’ve gotten so much support from the community — it’s actually been really heartwarming to see it. Not even just San Diego county, it’s been from all over the world … Our feature on NextShark really brought us a lot of support. We got so many donations from NextShark — I think we got around $5000 from just them posting us.”
Although Lim is operating out of Atlanta, Ga., where his university is located, the distance does not take away from the initiative’s impact on him and his community.
“The encouragement and immense support from the community towards San Diego Cabbie reminded me that there is still good left in the world, especially at a time when negativity seems to be overbearing,” Lim said. “I’ve learned that making a difference in the world takes patience, and that what we are doing here is essentially a stepping stone towards building up a catalyst for a change in our society.”
In the future, San Diego Cabbie plans to place an emphasis on helping people get rides to receive COVID-19 immunizations, especially at RIMAC’s vaccination center.
“I know that that’s a really big supercenter for vaccinations, and we know that a lot of low-income or elderly — they aren’t able to afford to get to vaccination centers, so we want to help, not even, like, spread awareness for our initiative, but like help get people rides to vaccines so they can be safer in the community,” Trieu said.
Tony Choi, a 2019 UC Berkeley graduate, recently joined the San Diego Cabbie team to assist in terms of marketing and outreach. In an interview with The UCSD Guardian, Choi said that the plans for the vaccination project are not yet concrete, especially when it comes to the regional expansion.
“We’re still thinking about different methods of how we can reach our audience, but we, eventually, we want people to be safe and to feel safe,” Choi said. “That’s why we’re trying to partner up with some UCSD students and we’ll probably create some fliers and spread the awareness and message and allow people, with the donations we currently have, to have free rides to and back from their vaccination sites.”
Choi, who grew up in San Diego, is honored to see tangible results born from this initiative in his community, especially because he feels that volunteer opportunities to support the Asian American community are limited.
“You can feel the community and the support,” Choi said. “I feel like Asian representation is something that has been lacking in this country as a whole and in any field, especially in community service. This organization — I realized that there are a lot of people out there who are willing to help; it was just mainly a lack of opportunity and a lack of representation. There’s realizing that we do have great support, we do have smart, motivated, great people and it’s just exciting to be part of a team that brings this all together and to fruition to help other people.”
Kappa Zeta Phi’s Service Chair, Leona Vo, explained that the chapter currently plans to host virtual fundraisers to donate to San Diego Cabbie. In her time as Service Chair during the pandemic, Vo has seen the effectiveness of interactive bingo fundraisers on Instagram stories, wherein each donation amount across the board corresponds to a certain challenge the sister completes in return. She plans to utilize this method in Kappa Zeta Phi’s San Diego Cabbie fundraiser as well.
The Asian-American interest sorority found out about San Diego cabbie through posts circulating on social media and wanted to get involved, especially due to the recent rise of anti-Asian hate crimes.
“Supporting the AAPI community really means a lot, because I feel like I’m very in touch with my culture,” Vo said. “Also, seeing a lot of the Asian hate crimes that have been happening more recently have been really heartbreaking. Seeing [the] community and how scared they felt for their own safety was really heartbreaking for me, and I feel like that pushes me even further to advocate for AAPI justice.”
“I really wanted to collaborate with San Diego Cabbie just because it’s a project that’s so close to home and I feel like I can really make an impact on the community that I am in,” Vo said.
San Diego Cabbie’s plans to work together with UCSD students are still in the works. Donation options (e.g. Stimulus, Venmo, PayPal), Ride Request Forms, and contact information for San Diego Cabbie can be found here.
Photo courtesy of Ava Bayley for The UCSD Guardian.