Judge Rules That NYC Cabs Must Be Wheelchair Accessible

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A federal judge says new taxis in New York City must be wheelchair accessible.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports

Only about 200 of the city’s 13,000 taxis can handle wheelchairs right now. In a suit against the Taxi and Limousine Commission, several advocacy groups said that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge George Daniels said in his written ruling that the commission can provide taxi medallions only for wheelchair-accessible vehicles until it produces a comprehensive plan to provide meaningful access to taxicab service for disabled passengers.

He said such a plan must include targeted goals and standards and anticipated measurable results.       “Meaningful access for the disabled to public transportation services is not a utopian goal or political promise, it is a basic civil right,” the judge wrote.

But spokesperson Connie Pankrats says the judge is not seeing eye to eye with city’s law department.

“The ADA exempts taxi cabs from having to be wheelchair accessible,” said Pankrats.

Disability Rights Advocates, a non-profit legal center that advocates for people with disabilities, called the ruling “the best Christmas gift our clients could ask for.’

The ruling might mean trouble for the taxi of tomorrow, a Nissan mini-van that’s supposed to replace the fleet in the next few years and is not wheelchair ready.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been opposed to making the city’s cabs wheelchair accessible, saying they would cost about $15,000 more than the average taxi.

(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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

  • Jerry A. Terrill

    As a user of a walker, I applaud the decision, because it will improve the quality of life of the wheel chair users who now wait in front of the physical therapist office for hours for access a ride in hot summer weather, in rain and in cold winter weather. There is no substitute for an accessible taxi.

  • S.Reh

    Wow, women and kids being murdered right and left in our own city with frightening regularity and THIS is what judges are up in arms about?

  • Bartholomew Harte

    Ever try getting a cab to go across town in the day? Maybe that wheelchair would be faster!This Judge must live Way Outta Townto not to see how
    utterly fool-hardy this idea is-1 in 10,maybe-Every Cab?? No Way Jose!!

  • FoolishUS

    Another LIBERAL piece of ABSURD LEGISLATION which will NOT BE IMPLEMENTED. Anyone can sue, any LIBERAL judge can “order” something- yeah, it ain’t gonna happen. Take this ADA re-write it so it makes sense, not some Utopian foolishness as it is now.

  • sanda aronson

    I am thrilled to finally imagining in my lifetime of NYC being like other cities where I can get a wheelchair accessible taxi cab that I can roll right in. NYC will have to join with the 21st Century in spite of “disabilophobia”.

  • Darius03

    This will just make the disabled hateful to other being inconvenienced and sort of “punished” with subsidizing the accommodations. Who would blame some who might shout: “Why don’t you just stay home!”

  • Darius03

    Next: Judge rules that movie theaters provide cerebral cortex hook-ups for the blind so they can watch movies!
    Disability Rights Advocates, a non-profit legal center that advocates for people with disabilities, called the ruling “the best Christmas gift our clients could ask for.’

  • David

    Isn’t there aleady a taxi service for the disabled? It’s called Access. They are everywhere and ready to pickup the disabled. And most of the times, it’s free. To make new cabs handicap accessible is ridiculous and more of the tunneled-vision moves by the Democrates, the ME generation.


      Good day everyone,

      Ive been confined to a WHEELCHAIR (hit/run taxi cab) and I was home bound for nearly 4 1/2 years. If you never experience what’s it’s like, do it for a one week. It was the worst feeling in the world to be very limited when and where you can travel, besides the pain!!!

      1) ACCESS A RIDE IS NOT FREE and it’s not a 24/hr door to door service. Whatever everyone else pays MTA for a one way trip, the same applies.

      2) Appts. must be schedule in advance, and one should pray a vehicle was avail.

      3) If a vehicle becomes avail, a) expect them to always be LATE, b), expect them to get the pickup
      location – WRONG.

      5) I was strained at more than one location because ACCESS A RIDE couldn’t get it right!! No apology ever given by corporate office.

      5) Talk about frustration? If anything, why don’t you all questioned… why are people who are NOT wheelchair bound or physically limited, allowed to use access a ride as their private chauffeur to and from? I’ve seen it time and time again.

      In conclusion, a trouble free, available taxi would have been on point during my time of need. Thankfully, I’m walking again and I don’t have to rely on ACCESS for grocery shopping and everything else those “walking” takes for granted ON A DAILY BASICS.

      Thank you.

  • Anthony

    I always thought that the ADA could sometimes take things a little to far, and this case is another example of that. It costs a ton of money to make a taxicab wheelchair accessible, and those costs will have to be passed on to ALL customers. The majority of riders will be subsidizing disabled passengers.

    The ADA also wanted to make wilderness areas accessible to people in wheelchairs. When you carve roads into wilderness areas to make wilderness accessible to the disabled, it’s not a wilderness anymore. In some ways, the ADA is a disaster lobby.

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