NYC Okays Wheelchair Accessible Cab

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 03:38 PM

An MV-1, parked outside NYC TLC headquarters (photo by Kate Hinds)

New York just approved a new vehicle for use in the city's taxi fleet -- a wheelchair-accessible, Indiana-made MV-1.  But riders will only have a few years to hail them before the city's non-accessible "Taxi of Tomorrow" becomes the only sanctioned model.

The vote, which happened at Thursday's Taxi and Limousine Commission meeting, came less than a week after the US Attorney's office weighed in on a lawsuit against the city and said that the lack of wheelchair-accessible cabs violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Disabled activists were on hand at the TLC meeting to testify in support of a rules change necessary to authorize the MV-1 -- and to talk about how difficult it is to hail a cab in the city. Jean Ryan with Disabled in Action said the lack of wheelchair-accessible cabs was frustrating.

Advocates for the disabled at the TLC hearing (photo by Kate Hinds)

"We can never see them, and the stickers are in the back," she said. "So they’ve passed us by the time we see that they’re accessible – if we ever see one. It’s like an Elvis sighting.”

City Council member Oliver Koppel was also there to support the rules change -- and to criticize New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said yesterday that it was too difficult for people in wheelchairs to hail taxis on the street in the first place, and that able-bodied people would feel uncomfortable in a wheelchair-accessible cab because "their suspension is much worse."

“I think the mayor’s concerns are totally off the wall,” Koppell said. He added that “37 members of City Council believe we should have an all-accessible fleet. The US Justice Department believes it. The governor apparently believes it, and it’s long past time for this commission to move in that direction.”

Currently, 231 of New York City's 13,237 taxi cabs are wheelchair accessible.

The MV-1 will retail for about $40,000. It weighs about 5,000 pounds and gets between 13 and 15 miles per gallon, depending on whether the engine uses compressed natural gas or regular fuel. No word yet on how many NYC medallion owners might be tempted to purchase one. But even if drivers take the plunge, they'll only be able to pilot it for a few more years. In May, the city awarded Nissan the contract for the Taxi of Tomorrow. The NV200 will begin to hit the streets by late 2013 and the Nissan will be the only cab in town by 2018. But the NV200 is not wheelchair accessible.

Assembly Member Micah Kellner, wearing a yellow and black button that said "Separate Is Not Equal," said at the TLC meeting: “I don’t care what the Taxi of Tomorrow is, because I think at the end of the day the Justice Department is going to decide that for us.”

Another view of the MV-1 (photo by Kate Hinds)


Comments [5]

Viking Airport Taxi

According to Viking Airport Taxi, it would be $27.20.
so more than like 40. So if you have 4 people, at MPLS cheaper than the train and some shuttle services St paul Mn

Apr. 20 2012 11:52 AM
viking taxi

According to Viking Airport Taxi, it would be $37.20.
so more than like 40. So if you have 4 people, at MPLS cheaper than the train and some shuttle services

Jan. 14 2012 11:40 AM

This is not necesary and economically unsustainable due to the extremelly high cost of the vehicles. This addtional overhead can potentially destroy the taxi industry and become a burden (via higher costs) to the taxi driver instead of the taxi barons. The taxi industry already has extremelly high overhead costs of insurance, fuel, leases, licensing, and government regulations. Most of the riding public doesn’t take those issues into account, and they don’t really care. They just want a cheap ride close to nothing. The taxi industry is not sustainable at the prices the general public would like it to be. NOW FOR THOSE WITH DISABILITIES, THERE IS ALREADY A DEDICATED FLEET OF VEHICLES TO ACOMMODATE THERE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS CALLED ACCESS-A-RIDE AND OTHER AMBULETTE STYLE SERVICES. Some agendas will push this issue at all costs, even though it makes no common sense for the greater good of the industry, and again a potential additional burden to taxi driver, even though there are already existing alternatives that have been mentioned above.

Dec. 17 2011 12:14 PM
Sharon Gifford

How can i get hold of a wheelchir cab i will be in NEW YORK Saturday?

Dec. 14 2011 04:24 PM
Joanna Underwood

The MV-1 is not only an exceptionally-well designed wheelchair accessible taxi but is a taxi that meets or exceeds the goals set by Mayor Bloomberg’s sustainability group to make New York City a sustainability leader by 2030.
Compared to the City’s more than 8000 gasoline-powered taxis, it virtually eliminates the lung-choking particulate (soot) emissions, and cuts emissions of nitrogen oxides, a key ingredient in smog, by 60 to 80%. It also reduces climate-changing gas emissions by 25% to 30%.

It is so low polluting because it is fueled, not by gasoline, but by domestically-plentiful natural gas which cuts the city’s risky continued dependence on foreign oil. There are sufficient natural gas stations in the City at which this vehicle, which goes almost 300 miles on one tankful, can refuel. But, further, in the foreseeable future, the MV-1 may be able to refuel at these same stations on an even better gas fuel – the “renewable” form of natural gas (called RNG) made from our wastes. RNG is already in commercial use in Europe and is heading our way.
The MV-1 may be also an economic winner. Natural gas fuel is more than $1 cheaper than gasoline so drivers of these taxis can save about $5,000 a year on fuel. And when that fuel becomes RNG, it will be even a better bargain. New York City’s wastes are now exported to out-of-state landfills, costing taxpayers a whopping $325 million a year. These wastes could be used to generate sufficient RNG to power all the City’s 13,000 taxis (and refuse trucks) turning an expensive burden into a clean fuel solution.
Joanna D. Underwood, President, Energy Vision

Oct. 21 2011 11:53 AM

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