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Taxis For All Campaign News Blog

Sunday, October 16, 2011
John Gambling Show
Friday, October 14, 2011

Gambling: United States Attorney’s office here in Manhattan yesterday said that the lack of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They want to force the city to have more accessible taxicabs of the 13,000. That’s going to be difficult? What’s your reaction?

Bloomberg: I think the cab industry will fight that tooth-and-nail. When the cabs are big enough for a wheelchair, a lot of the cab drivers say that the passengers sit farther away and they can’t establish a dialogue, and they get lower tips.

But the real answer to that, John, is the cabs that we picked so far [for the Taxi of Tomorrow] are easier for handicapped people that are not wheelchair bound [sic] and if you are in a wheelchair -- just, you know, the Justice Department I don’t think ever’s been to New York – you go out to the streets, you just cannot take generally a wheelchair out into the streets and try to hail a cab.

It’s dangerous and a lot of the cab drivers just would, I think, pretend that they didn’t see you. Some will, but some won’t. And it’s very hard to get them to stop, pull over and safely get you and your wheelchair in. So what we’ve come up with is a system where there would be a lot of wheelchair-accessible cabs but they would be, ummm, what’s the word I’m looking for, called by…

Gambling: A dispatch system.

Bloomberg: Dispatch, that’s the word I’m looking for. Ummm…the dispatch would be to pick you up when you need a wheelchair [-accessible taxi].

And we have this borough taxi bill that we’re trying to get through Albany, the governor’s helping us, many people oppose because it adds hundreds of new wheelchair-accessible cabs. And they just, a lot of these drivers don’t want to do it – it’s more expensive for them and they say, you know, not our responsibility.

But the bottom line that we want to make sure that everybody, those that need extra help get it and those that don’t get it, and all the services are provided at a price that people can afford and in all boroughs. Our problem at the moment is the yellow cabs really only operate south of 96th Street in Manhattan.

Gambling: Any new updates on that bill, that new bill?

Bloomberg: Passed by the senate, passed by the assembly. The governor I talked to recently, a few days ago, says there’s a few tweaks that he thought might improve the bill, and if it does that’s great. But I have no reason to think that this bill isn’t going to come into law. If you take a look, it’s interesting, some of the yellow cab drivers don’t like it because they say it will hurt their revenues. A taxi medallion today sells for six-seven hundred thousand dollars. I think that when we originally gave out medallions and somebody made them transferable, nobody ever thought there’d be this enormous windfall. And there’s actually a company, the ticker symbol is TAXI, appropriately, that owns a bunch of medallions, and I just looked at their stock yesterday, or the day before, and it was at a record high, so the marketplace doesn’t think that this is going to hurt the yellow cab.

Gambling: But the governor says he thinks it’s going to go?

Bloomberg: The governor was very encouraging, is a nice way to phrase it.
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