2 taxi drivers fined for rejecting blind passenger, her dog

Broadway Cab is also punished for dispatcher's delay in serving woman

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PORTLAND — Two Broadway Cab drivers have been fined for refusing a ride to a legally blind woman and her guide dog.

Hamlet Galstyn and Aram Ambaryan have been fined $1,250 each for violating Portland city code by refusing to transport a passenger "of proper demeanor who requests services."

On Aug. 1, Deb Marinos, 56, of Salem took an Amtrak train from Salem to Portland's Union Station on her way to an appointment at OHSU Hospital. At about 11:30 a.m., an Amtrak worker gave her a ride in a small cart to the station's cab stand.

Marinos, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Oregon Commission for the Blind, is legally blind. She was accompanied by her seeing-eye dog Kibble, a 2-year-old black Lab.

But first a Broadway driver, and then a Sassy driver — Sassy is owned by Broadway — refused to take her and her dog to her appointment. Eventually, two men in another Broadway Cab gave Marinos and her dog a ride.

Kathleen Butler, manager of the Portland Revenue Bureau's regulatory division, said that because it was the first offense for the drivers, they were allowed to pay half the fine, and each paid $625. The drivers were warned that further violations could lead to suspension or revocation of their taxi permits.

Broadway Cab Co. was fined $500, Butler said, because a Broadway Cab dispatcher did not help Marinos get "immediately into a taxi and on her way."

A week before Marinos' experience, Broadway Cab driver Ahmed Egal stopped his taxi on the side of Interstate 84 and ejected a same-sex couple. The regulatory division suspended his taxi permit.

"We take both these situations very seriously," Broadway Cab president Raye Miles said of the guide-dog incident and the July 25 incident involving two women left by the side of Interstate 84.

"We take service dogs in our cabs every day; there are some in our cabs even as we speak," she said. "Both were isolated incidents, and we are working hard to make sure something like this doesn't happen again."

Marinos said Wednesday she was glad to hear that the regulatory division took action.

"I feel good that it is now understood that it's going to cost them if they refuse service dogs," Marinos said. "But there is still work to be done."