San Diego

San Diego Students Launch Rideshare Reimbursement Program to Help Asian Community Get Around Safely

The Instagram account, San Diego Cabbie, is on a mission to cover Uber/Lyft rides for Asian Americans in need

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The rise in attacks against Asian Americans has motivated two college students from San Diego to launch a project designed to provide safe transportation for members of the Asian community.

San Diego Cabbie is an Instagram account and donation-based project that looks to partially fund rides via Uber and Lyft for members of the community who are fearful to take public transportation or go out by themselves.

The service is reserved for Asian elders and Asian women who have essential tasks to get done, like going to the doctor’s office or heading to the grocery store, and want a safe way to get to their destination but might lack the financial means to do so.

San Diego Cabbie aims to foot up to $30 for any Uber or Lyft ride that meets these qualifications. The project only started up a couple of days ago, but it has already raised more than $300 and served its first rider.

Co-creators Paul Lim and Sydney Trieu, two friends from high school, drew inspiration from other movements of kindness taking shape around the country.

In San Francisco, Compassion in Oakland has gained momentum serving as a chaperone service for those on edge about walking alone. In New York, Café Maddy Cab is raising funds to help flip the bill for Uber and Lyft rides.

Trieu and Lim told NBC 7 they've been inspired, and now want to mirror the concept in San Diego through their Instagram page and give a lift where it’s needed.

“I’ve been seeing Instagrams pop up in San Francisco, San Jose, like any of those areas,” Trieu said. “And we didn’t see that in San Diego.”

The recent wave of attacks on the AAPI community has not only spurred this project but also hits close to home for both Lim and Trieu.

Trieu said her family has been concerned about going out and has even pushed her to cover her face when she does leave home.

“They make sure to tell us to wear a mask to cover some of our faces to make sure we aren’t targeted,” Trieu said.

Trieu and Lim said they hope their project can help those who are afraid to step out into the world -- and help them feel safer doing so.

“One female, she actually just Venmo’d and charged us for her ride to a doctor’s appointment,” Trieu said. “We’ve already reimbursed her for it.”

So, here’s how it works:

Interested participants can click the link at the top of the Instagram page, fill out the rider form, submit their Uber or Lyft receipt, and submit a selfie for verification. From there, the users will be reimbursed through Venmo.

Lim said he hopes San Diego Cabbie can go long-term, but said it will ultimately lie in the community’s hands because it relies fully on donations to keep going.

For now, they are only working with Venmo but are trying to segue into other ways to reimburse riders. Lim said he’s hoping to make an impact.

“Even if just one person feels protected in public with our service, then that’s really all that matters," Lim said.

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