Apr 16, 2012

Taxi Accessibility - Next court date 4/19/2012

NY's Channel 13: 

Taxi of Tomorrow May Be Here, But Accessibility Is an Issue Today  [click here for the video]

Bloomberg and Taxi Commissioner David Yassky have said that the new taxis can be retrofitted to allow for wheelchairs, and Carlos Ghosn, chief executive officer of Nissan, said the cab “has been designed so it can be modified for wheelchair users, without compromising the integrity of the vehicle,” reported Gothamist. Even so, disability-rights advocates say the taxis are still far from ideal, and New York City has missed a chance to be truly 100 percent accessible.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg and Nissan presented the shiny new Taxi of Tomorrow to New Yorkers over wine and “fancy snacks” at the New York International Auto Show. Set to roll out in 2013, the Nissan NV200 taxis will give people’s vision a boost with overhead reading lights and their hearing a break with “low-annoyance” horns, but as for addressing mobility —they are not wheelchair-accessible.

“We want access and we want it sooner than later,” said Joseph Rappaport, who advises the Taxis For All Campaign.

Taxis For All Chair chair Edith Prentiss called the Nissan the “taxi of yesterday” in a statement. At the unveiling on Tuesday night, several activists protested the Taxi of Tomorrow. According to DNAinfo, one advocate, Ronnie Raymond, carried a sign that read “all taxis should be accessible.”

“It is interesting that when they plan something like this, they don’t invite any disabled people at all,” Raymond said to DNAinfo. “It’s sad.”

In January 2011, Disability Rights Advocates, a non-profit legal center, filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on behalf of a group of advocacy organizations that had been fighting for a 100 percent accessible taxi fleet for many years. Federal Judge George B. Daniels ruled in late December that the city’s taxi fleet is overwhelmingly inaccessible, thus constituting discrimination against people with disabilities. The judge ordered the city to come up with a plan to “provide meaningful access to taxicab service for disabled wheelchair-bound passengers.”

In October, 2011, the United States Department of Justice filed a brief supporting Disability Rights Advocates’ position that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the New York taxi fleet to be wheelchair-accessible.

But the city disagrees with the judge’s ruling, and has filed an appeal. The plaintiffs and the city appear in court again on April 19.  at 9:15 AM at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, ,  (500 Pearl St, WC entry 200 Worth St, Ceremonial room on the 9th floor).

This Court appearance will be on time and last about about an hour (If the
judges ask a lot of questions). Although we're in front of the judges at 10,
we recommend you be there by about 9:15 to get through security.

Of the roughly 13,000 cabs  in New York’s fleet,  about 230 are wheelchair accessible.

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