NYC asks appeals court to reverse taxi handicap access ruling
NEW YORK, April 19 (Reuters) - New York City asked a federal appeals court on Wednesday to strike down acontroversial order that the city's taxi authority was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Michael Cardozo, the city's Corporation Counsel, told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that the lower court had misread the city's obligations under Title II, section A of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"We have not prohibited anyone in any way from providing accessible cabs," Cardozo said, drawing a line between the city's regulation of buses and its regulation of the taxi industry, which is composed of private operators.
A lawyer for disabilities advocates said District Judge George Daniels had gotten it right when he found in December 2011 that the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) was subject to the federal disabilities provision because the authority has an active regulatory role in maintaining and overseeing the taxi fleet -- thus acting as a public entity providing a public service.
"The TLC controls every single aspect of taxi cab service," attorney Sid Wolinsky said, from the "stitching on the seats to the decals."
New York City's taxi fleet is six times larger than the one in Los Angeles and grants three million rides a week, Wolinsky said. Only 232 of the city's 13,237 cabs are wheelchair-accessible.
In his opinion, Daniels ordered New York City to create a plan to improve access and -- pending his approval of such a plan -- required that any new taxis added to the fleet be wheelchair accessible.
The appeals court in March granted the city's request to temporarily freeze judge Daniels' controversial order.
The Taxi commission was on Wednesday in the process of holding a vote on a plan to allow livery cabs to accept street hails in all five boroughs.
Wednesday's appeals court panel -- judges Amalya Kearse, Dennis Jacobs and Peter Hall -- said it would issue a decision at a later date.