Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The United States attorney's office in Manhattan said on Thursday that the lack of wheelchair-accessible taxicabs in New York City violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and it urged a federal judge to force the city to quickly address the problem.
The remarks, issued in support of a lawsuit brought against the city in January by several disability rights groups, amounted to a strongly worded criticism of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, which has struggled to find ways to accommodate travelers who use wheelchairs.
It is unusual for the United States attorney to formally present a position on a pending lawsuit, but in a letter to the judge, the prosecutor, Preet Bharara, wrote that the federal government had
The city does not require yellow-cab owners to purchase wheelchair-accessible taxis, and only 232 vehicles in the 13,000-strong fleet can currently accommodate wheelchairs. The city recently selected a Nissan minivan that cannot accommodate wheelchairs to replace the entire taxi fleet over the next decade, prompting harsh criticism from disability advocates.
Mr. Bharara's office argued that it was
The taxi and limousine commissioner, David S. Yassky, said in a statement on Thursday that the lawsuit was misguided.
But federal lawyers, who have been investigating the issue since May, said the city's plans to unveil a new dispatch program by early 2012 were
A ruling in the suit is not expected until November. Even if the judge, George B. Daniels of Federal District Court in Manhattan, rules against the city, it is unclear how soon a new policy fitting the requirements of the disabilities act could be created. But the Nissan minivan might have to be reconsidered.
The remarks from the United States attorney were welcomed by politicians and advocates.
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