Inaccessible Taxi’s In NYC?

Jun 29, 2011

New York City is the largest city in the U.S. with the population in the millions. Taking a taxi is a common form of transportation. So those with disabilities would not have any trouble finding a cab, right? Recently, complaints have surfaced regarding NYC Taxis Discriminating against people with disabilities. These complaints specifically focus on inaccessibility.

The US Attorney’s office is now revisiting the Taxi of Tomorrow project by opening an investigation into whether the lack of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs in New York City amounts to a violation of parts of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The Taxi of Tomorrow project was initiated in 2007 and consisted of a group of stakeholders, including representatives of taxi drivers, owner and passengers, to create a set of goals for the next New York City taxi cab.

One of the initial goals of the Taxi of Tomorrow project was suppose to implement features that would include “universal accessibility for persons with disabilities”. This past month, the committee including the Mayor Bloomberg announced that the NV200, designed by Nissan North America, Inc., has been chosen as the winner of the Taxi of Tomorrow competition. The complaint is that the Nissan model is not wheelchair accessible (versus the Karsan design).

Responding to the news of the investigation, the city points out that it does issue medallions for wheelchair-accessible cabs (240 of the nearly 13,500 cabs in the city are wheelchair-accessible). The city does mention that they are working on a program where people with disabilities can call to arrange for a taxi to come pick them up.

Federal lawyers are conducting “a thorough evaluation” of whether the lack of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs violates with the disabilities act. The ADA prohibits local governments, or private groups that provide public transportation services, from discriminating against people with disabilities.

Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner says he was glad that the government was looking into this issue. “But I’m sad we have to turn to our court system for people with disabilities’ rights to be enforced,” he said.

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Author: Jenny Carlton