After a lawsuit filed by yellow taxi drivers, the plan to increase the wheelchair accessibility of New York City’s taxi fleet by 2020 is now on hold.
New rules requiring wheelchair accessible taxicabs within the fleet came about after the city settled a suit that charged it was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because so few taxis were accessible. Only approximately 250 of New York City’s 13,000 were able to pick up passengers in wheelchairs.
The suit filed by the taxicab drivers alleges that the requirement that half of all yellow taxi owners to start buying wheelchair-accessible cars in January is in direct conflict with a previous law that requires the city to utilize fuel-efficient hybrid taxis.
The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has yet to approve a vehicle that is both hybrid and is also wheelchair accessible at the same time. No vehicle like this appears to be available.
Taxicab drivers state that there are only ten vehicle models that the TLC has approved for them to use. However, none of those approved vehicles are both hybrid and wheelchair accessible.
A spokesman for the city’s law department said the city is “strongly committed to accessibility and will be opposing this application.
In comparison, Uber is not covered by the city’s requirements for wheelchair accessibility because they classify themselves as an “app” company and not a provider of transportation. It should also be noted that as of 2016, Uber passengers can locate a wheelchair accessible vehicle by simply choosing UberWAV within the app when scheduling a ride.
Jim Weisman is the president of the United Spinal Association and states that he is not without sympathy for the taxi drivers. “They’re not protected from Uber and they’re desperate guys,” he said. He does, however, want the city to live up to its promise to provide wheelchair accessible rides for those that need it.
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer