Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The Justice Department said Thursday that the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has failed to provide fair service to the disabled, and until it does, every new yellow cab in the city should be wheelchair accessible.
In a 23-page court filing, the federal government sided with four disabled-rights groups that filed a lawsuit in January. Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Kuehler said the Taxi and Limousine Commission must have
As part of an ambitious attempt to remake the city's taxi fleet, the TLC chose the Nissan NV200 as the city's exclusive new cab model. But the vehicle isn't wheelchair-accessible.
In a statement, David Yassky, the chairman of the TLC, called the lawsuit
The TLC had asked U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels to give it until mid-2012, when the agency expects to have implemented a dispatch system for wheelchair-accessible cabs, and the state legislature to pass a bill to increase the number of taxi medallions for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Currently, about 2% of New York City's roughly 13,000 yellow taxis have equipment that allows wheelchair users to get in and out. The Justice Department said the likelihood of a nondisabled person hailing a cab within 10 minutes is 87%, compared with just 3% for a disabled person.
The Justice Department said the TLC has an important regulatory role in managing the taxi fleet and must take action to make more of the fleet is accessible. It isn't enough, the department argued, for the city to say a dispatch system is in development to direct yellow taxis to customers.
A number of groups advocating for the rights of the disabled — United Spinal, the Taxis for All Campaign, 504 Democratic Club, and Disabled in Action—filed a lawsuit against the TLC, alleging the taxi fleet violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Recent moves to add more sport-utility vehicles and hybrid vehicles has only made the access problem worse, the suit charges.
The lawsuit's supporters hailed the Justice Department's move, saying it adds heft to the allegations.
State Assemblyman Micah Kellner of the Upper East Side, who asked the Justice Department to intervene, said,
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10/19/2011 02:25:00 AM |
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