Suit Asking City to Make All Cabs Wheelchair Accessible Moves Forward

A class action lawsuit that calls for the future taxi fleet to be fully wheelchair accessible is moving forward after a judge Tuesday denied the city's request to have it dismissed.

A group of disability advocates filed the suit against the Taxi and Limousine Commission as it finalizes plans to make the Nissan NV200 the taxi model for the next decade, arguing the city is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by having 231 wheelchair-accessible taxis on the road with more than 13,000 yellow cabs total on the road.

A lawyer for the city contended no federal or local law requires cabs to be accessible to people in wheelchairs but that the city was moving forward with a dispatch system for disabled. She requested the case be dismissed, but Federal Judge George Daniels denied it.

"The city is constantly imposing requirements on taxis," said James Weisman with the United Spinal Association, one of the plaintiffs, "all they’d have to say is new cabs have to be accessible and it solves the problem."

About a dozen disabled New Yorkers held signs expressing frustration about not being able to hail and roll into any random taxi outside the hearing.

Judge Daniels ordered that both sides in the case move forward with the discovery phase before appearing before him again in August.