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US Attorney: New York City’s Taxis Violate Disabilities Act

FILE - New York City taxis. (credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

FILE – New York City taxis. (credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan says the lack of wheelchair-accessible taxis in New York City violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. It urged a federal judge to force the city to address the problem quickly.

The New York Times reports the office issued the remarks in support of a lawsuit filed against the city by disability rights groups.

Yellow cab owners aren’t required to buy wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The city recently selected a Nissan minivan with no wheelchair access to replace its entire fleet over the next 10 years.

“The wheelchair-accessible taxis that are on the street are minivans that have been sliced so that they can be lengthened and then the interior is rearranged so that there’s room for a wheelchair to be locked in place and then a ramp is added so a wheelchair can be wheeled in,” said Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky.

Currently, 231 of the city’s 13,000 taxis can accommodate wheelchairs but Yassky said the TLC is looking to bring that number up to 800.

“I find the timing is just so odd,” Yassky said. “We’re on our way to put in many more taxis on the road that will be wheelchair-accessible.” “We have legislation pending in the state that would put hundreds more accessible taxis on the street and we’re also in the middle of enabling 311 to get those taxis to the people who need them.”

In April, the TLC put out a bid to have a 311 operator dispatch wheelchair-accessible taxis to people who need them. The service should be up and running early next year.

“All I know is the US attorney is saying you need to do more and we are in fact doing more,” Yassky said.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)