Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
City lawyers are heading to court Tuesday seeking an appeal of a judge's order that the Taxi and Limousine Commission must submit a long term-plan for wheelchair accessibility.
The TLC believes the order could hold up the Bloomberg administration's five borough taxi plan — and the revenue it would generate.
In December, a lower court ruled that the city must submit a comprehensive plan for how it will better serve the disabled. Attorneys with the city argue the TLC is already working on providing “meaningful access” to people in wheelchairs by moving forward with its accessible dispatch plan. The judge's orders, they say, are unfeasible because they conflict with state legislation. It would also block the city from moving forward with the scheduled auction of 2,000 accessible taxi medallions and 1,800 livery permits, with 20 percent set aside as accessible. The city has already factored the estimated $1 billion in revenue from the sale into next year's budget.
The city believes that the court overreached, misinterpreting the Americans with Disabilities act, which exempts taxicabs from having to be wheelchair accessible.
Separately, the taxi bill agreement reached in December currently requires the TLC to submit a Disabled Accessibility Plan to the state Department of Transportation for approval within a year.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs contend that complying with the judge's order wouldn't compromise the medallion auction. They say until New Yorkers with disabilities can hail a taxi — their civil rights are being violated.
Only 231 accessible cabs out of more than 13,000 yellow taxis can accommodate people in wheelchairs.