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From New York Daily News

Disability Community: Veto the Taxi Bill
December 16, 2011 3:10 PM

By Ken Lovett

The Taxis For All Campaign has written a last-minute letter to Governor Cuomo uring him to veto the controversial livery bill unless it has strict requirements that livery cabs be handicapped accessible.

"The disability community supports better service for everyone in all five boroughs," wrote Edith Prentiss, chair of the Taxis For All Campaign. "However, people with disabilities should not be excluded from this new taxi and livery system. A world-class city deserves a world-class transportation system."

"The city is trying to impelent a new system, and it should do it correctly, and in compliance with the (Americans Wtih Disabilities Act), right from the start," she added.

Prentis thanked Cuomo for making the issue a priority in the negotiations to amend the bill. She wrote that City Hall to date has been "unresponsive, if not hostile, to the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in New York City."

Bloomberg aides have said not only have they agreed to changes that would require 2,000 new yellow cab medallions to all require handicapped accessible vehicles, but 2,000 of the 17,000 permits granted for livery cabs to pick up street hails in the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan would also have to be for accessible vehicles.

But Prentiss echoed Cuomo's sentiments during a recent taxi summit that the 2,000 permits won't likely sell "since the city has offered no plan to ensure that accessible vehicles would actually be in operation in a street-hail system."

"The liveries would have to aquire accessible vehicles for this pupose since they do not operate them now; neither the Taxi & Limousine Commission, nor those representing the liveries, have commited to requiring and/or acquiring them. Thus, the bill before you would leave the city's livery system with not one single additional accessible cab, and would only serve to maintain a system that in no way complies with the ADA."

She added: "We deeply appreciate your support of disability rights, and at this critical moment, we need you to champion our cause," she wrote. "Therefore, we respectfully request that you veto the Livery Bill."


From New York Post

'Future' taxi a ‘weakling'
Posted: 1:18 AM, November 27, 2011
Last Updated: 8:55 AM, November 29, 2011

By KATHIANNE BONIELLO

"The Taxi of Tomorrow" isn't tough enough.

A taxi medallion leasing organization insists that the city's one and only choice of vehicles for the future — the $29,000 Nissan NV2000 — won't stand up to the wear and tear of what it describes as "the poorly maintained streets of New York."

The city chose the minivan to be the five boroughs' only yellow cab as of 2013 — under a 10-year, $1 billion contract with the manufacturer. Any medallion owner would be required to purchase one.

But the Queens-based Committee for Taxi Safety claims the NV200 "uses outmoded engineering, design and technology." And the group has asked a Manhattan Supreme Court judge to declare the choice "arbitrary and capricious."

The new taxis will feature built-in GPS, greater rider room and 25 miles-a-gallon fuel efficiency.


From WNYC News Blog

November 23, 2011
Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Gets its Day in Court

By Kathleen Horan

One of the approximately 200 wheelchair accessible cabs in the city.
One of the approximately 200 wheelchair accessible cabs in the city. (Photo by Kate Hinds of 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.


First, thanks to all who attended the hearing. The courtroom was fairly crowded with TFAC members, reporters, city council staff, TLC staff and taxi and livery representatives.

Judge Daniels treated our attorney, Sid Wolinsky of Disability Rights Advocates, well compared to the "raking over the coals" he gave to both the U.S. Attorney (who supported our position) and especially the City's attorney representing the TLC. The City's position was basically that the TLC nondiscrimination obligation under the ADA related to its licensees i.e. the taxi drivers, medallion owners and anyone else with whom the TLC does business or to whom it provides services. Taxi service according to the City, is not "operated" by the TLC , therefore, anything done for wheelchair users by the TLC is done because the agency chooses to do it, not because it is required to do it. The City promised a dispatch system for Manhattan beginning in March 2012. The U.S. Attorney argued that the TLC has so much control over the system that it acts as an "operator" of the system and has responsibilities under Title II of the ADA. This, of course, is consistent with the position taken by the plaintiffs.

The Judge had difficulty accepting the City's position that basically the TLC was free to discriminate against wheelchair using passengers, at least as far as the ADA is concerned, and some difficulty accepting the U.S. Attorney's position, perhaps because he was afraid that his ruling might mean that all taxis in all cities had to be accessible since most are licensed by a local governmental entity. There was quite a bit of discussion about the difference between New York City's TLC and all other regulators. The Judge stated that he will rule before Christmas therefore we might have a merry one.

James Weisman, SVP and General Counsel
United Spinal Association

August 23, 2006
Legal Discrimination
by Joe Rappaport / am New York

 
May 4, 2005
Disabled New Yorkers Challenge TLC To Add More Accessible Cabs
by Gary Anthony Ramsay / NY1

 
October 16, 2004
Auction Expands Cab Fleet for Disabled From 3 to 30
By Elaine Aradillas / New York Times

 
September 14, 2004
Disabled Hacked Off About Cabs
by Donald Bertrand / New York Daily News

 
August 25, 2004
A Little Movement Toward More Taxis for Wheelchairs
By Michael Luo / New York Times

 
June 23, 2004
Taxis for All?
by Terry Moakley & Jean Ryan / Queens Gazette

 
May 3, 2004
Make taxis accessible for all
New York Daily News editorial

 
April 23, 2004
Cabs are 'hail' on earth for disabled
Associated Press