Young Richmond woman calls a cab, gets unwanted backseat company

Posted at 12:27 AM, May 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-01 07:40:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--When Alison Renahan called her favorite cab company to get a midnight ride Saturday from her friend’s home in Church Hill to her loft in west Richmond, she didn’t expect company in the back seat.

Young male company, that is  – with a roving knee.

“I decided to take a cab home because I had been drinking, so I called a reputable taxi company I always use, Napoleon Taxi, and they sent a driver,” Renahan recalled. “He picked me up, and as we were leaving Church Hill, he turned off the main street to pick up another passenger. I said I did not agree to that, but he did anyway.”

The passenger “got in the back with me and he sort of rubbed his leg against my leg,” she recalled. “I tried to scooch closer to the door . . . the driver did take me to my destination, so he and the mysterious man dropped me off at my house, and then he proceeded to charge me the entire cab fare.”

Jonathan Trainum, owner of Napoleon Taxi, said that should never have happened.

“No, absolutely not,” he said. “That’s not only against the law, that’s against company policy. When you are a customer in a vehicle, you are the initiating customer, the driver is not allowed to ask you to put another customer in the vehicle.” (See the law below.)

What happened was Renahan  didn’t come out fast enough for her ride and the cabbie cancelled her order, according to video and dispatch reports, Trainum said. The driver had accepted another fare when she came out. Trainum said the driver should’ve told her to call for another cab before proceeding to pick up his next assignment.

All Napoleon cabs have forward- and rear-facing cameras, along with GPS and speed indicators. After reviewing the entire video, the driver was fired, Trainum said. He allowed CBS 6 to watch – but not film – the entire encounter.

“He broke the law,” Trainum said, “and that’s not something we condone, in any way, shape or form.”

Renahan said “I am sorry someone had to lose their job over it, but I’m also sorry he compromised my safety in the first place.”

Trainum is in complete agreement. “No customer should ever have to endure what she had to deal with. And nobody should ever be put in a situation where they’re paying to be uncomfortable.”

Renahan originally posted about the experience on social media sites, but has since removed those posts.

The metro Richmond law:

Sec. 21-145. - Carrying more than one passenger in taxicab.

No person other than the first person taken into a taxicab for transportation shall be allowed to enter the taxicab except upon the direction of the first person so taken into the cab, and the certificate holder shall not authorize or permit the driver of the taxicab or any other person to request, nor shall the driver or any other person request, the first person taken into a taxicab for transportation to allow any other to be transported in the taxicab.

Should the first person taken into a taxicab for transportation direct the driver to allow another to be transported in the taxicab, the first person so taken into the taxicab shall be liable for the payment of the fare for the transportation of all persons transported at the rates prescribed in section 21-139(b), unless otherwise agreed upon by the driver and any one or all of the persons transported in the taxicab.

(Code 1980, § 20.2-12; Code 1995, § 21-130)1