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Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Gets its Day in Court

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WNYC
One of the approximately 200 wheelchair accessible cabs in the city. (Kate Hinds/WNYC)

Attorneys for the disabled faced off against attorneys for the city in a court hearing on Tuesday over the lack of wheelchair-accessible cabs.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, as well as the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District, argued that the city is in violation of the law — the Americans with Disabilities Act — since it runs a public transportation system, yet only 2 percent of cabs in the city can accommodate people in wheelchairs.

Simi Linton of Manhattan was one of a dozen disabled New Yorkers attending the hearing. "I feel optimistic that the judge understood the depth and the reach of the kind of discrimination that disabled people face daily."

The city contends it's not violating the law because it doesn't operate the cabs themselves, drivers do.

But Federal Judge George Daniels repeatedly challenged the city’s attorney, Robin Binder, about whether New York City is responsible to do more, and if it is what it plans to do in regards to providing “meaningful access” to disabled passengers. Daniels said, “If it is your legal obligation, there is no dispute you’re not meeting that obligation.”

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has said it’s currently developing a system where disabled riders can order a wheel-chair accessible cab from a dispatcher. It should be operational by next spring.

One of the plaintiffs, Christopher Noel, said that plan doesn't cut it. "The TLC is basically saying that we'll come up with a system eventually, and then we'll get to you, but for now we'll just pick up everyone else and then we'll get to everyone else. It hurt me when I heard their argument," he said.

Judge Daniels said he’ll rule on the case by Christmas.

Before he concluded the hearing, Daniels warned the city that if he determines the city has an obligation to do more for accessible passengers, then it will have to be armed with remedies immediately, not in the future

Plaintiffs in the case are asking that as taxis are retired over the next 3-5 years, all new cabs be accessible models. The Nissan NV 200, the model chosen by the city to be the “Taxi of Tomorrow” has to be retrofitted to fit wheelchairs.

Industry opponents argue requiring 100 percent accessibility isn't feasible and is too expensive.

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Comments [8]

Rollator from USA

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has said it’s currently developing a system where disabled riders can order a wheel-chair accessible cab from a dispatcher. It should be operational by next spring.

Oct. 16 2012 07:36 AM
taxi zürich from Bangladesh

A taxi provides passengers between destinations of their choice. I have a thrilling taxi travel memory in Sydney. The difference of <b><a href='www.zh-taxi.ch'>taxi zürich</a></b> from others is that it is a high quality taxi.

Apr. 06 2012 03:17 PM
taxi zürich from Bangladesh

A taxi provides passengers between destinations of their choice. I have a thrilling taxi travel memory in Sydney. The difference of <b><a href='www.zh-taxi.ch'>taxi zürich</a></b> from others is that it is a high quality taxi.

Apr. 06 2012 03:16 PM
Jon

Thought you'd be interested in this since you worked on the case. Speaking of work you did at DRA, did you ever contact Ben and Larry about getting money for Dyckman Street?

Nov. 28 2011 12:22 PM
Sue from Manhattan

If I didn't use a wheelchair and feel so outraged, I'd probably laugh at the city's claim of no responsibility for providing accessible cabs - where the city has the sole power to select which vehicles can be used for cabs, to regulate payment and information in cabs, and to regulate the number of medallions.

Nov. 23 2011 04:55 PM
allison lucas

Where can I listen to this story? I heard it was on WNYC this morning but I can't find it...

Nov. 23 2011 04:16 PM
GirlWithTheCane from Canada

The cabs in London, England are all accessible. There is no reason why this can't be done in New York.

My money as a tourist was just as good for New York when I used a wheelchair as it is now, when I can get around using a cane. Why, as a wheelchair user, would I have come to New York and spent my travel dollars there, when it's so difficult for me to get around and the mayor's comments obviously indicate that I would be considered a second-class citizen?

The reasons why Bloomberg says it can't all say, "We just don't want to," rather than "It can't be done," and that's simply unacceptable.

I can't imagine that the judge will see it any differently.

Nov. 23 2011 03:19 PM
allison lucas

Correct spelling: Simi Linton

Nov. 23 2011 11:44 AM

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