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Within a decade, more than 16,000 New York City taxis could become handicap-accessible. Photo Bryan Smith

Accessible Taxi

Online Exclusive posted Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 9:37am

More NYC taxis to become wheelchair accessible

The number of wheelchair-accessible cabs in the city could soar from about 800 to more than 16,500 over 10 years under a plan drafted by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, sources familiar with the plan said.

The plan boosts the percentage of green “outer borough” cabs that have to be outfitted with ramps from 20% to 50%, according to sources. The 50% mark would have to be reached by 2024, sources said.

The TLC also would create a dispatch program for wheelchair users so they could call and arrange a ride with an accessible green cab, a new class of for-hire cars authorized by the city to pick up street hails in northern Manhattan and the other boroughs, excluding airports.

The new TLC program also would enforce an existing TLC rule that has gathered dust. The provision requires every livery car base have at least one accessible car. As an alternative, a base could contract with another livery outfit to provide the service.

Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, declined to comment on the plan, expected to be presented to City Council leaders later today. It will be then sent up to the state Legislator and Gov. Cuomo for review.

“This is a great addition to the accessible travel options for those of us who live outside the Manhattan’s central business district,” one advocate said. “Although it’s not everything we had hoped for, it is a giant step.”

The Bloomberg administration late last year settled a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act because only a few hundred of the more than 13,237 yellow taxicabs were handicapped accessible. The lawsuit was filed by the Taxis for All Campaign, Disabled in Action and the 504 Democratic Club.

The settlement included a mandate that half of the taxicab fleet, which is expanding with the sale of new medallions, be accessible by 2020. State legislation approving the yellow taxi fleet expansion mandated that 20% of all green cabs be accessible.

The city plans on selling up to 18,000 street-hail livery permits for green cabs. The first batch of 6,000 has been sold. About 500 of those vehicles already on the road are accessible. The city has established a dispatch program for accessible yellow cabs so wheelchair users can arrange rides with yellow taxis.

Originally published by The Daily News. All rights reserved.


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