Disability Rights Advocates, a non-profit law firm, have filed a federal class action lawsuit stating that there is a lack of wheelchair accessible taxicabs in New York City, which violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit was placed against the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The disability rights group was not pleased with their failure to require that taxis be accessible to people with disabilities and also state that their actions are violating multiple civil rights laws. Citing the fact that out of 13,000 taxicabs in New York City, only 231 of those cabs are accessible to people with disabilities, the Disability Rights Advocates assert that the TLC ignores the needs of the disabled.
TLC believes they consider wheelchair accessibility a priority, however the lawsuits base lacks support. “We have made tremendous strides over the years in improving transportation options for persons with disabilities, which we continue to prioritize. At the same time, no federal or local law requires that taxicabs be accessible to people with wheelchairs, and in fact, the ADA specifically exempts taxicabs from the requirement,” says the spokesman for TLC Allan J. Fromberg.
Chris Noel served as co-chair of the Taxis For All Campaign and states the use of taxis is an essential aspect of what he does. “Before I became disabled I was able to use taxis all the time; now I can’t even get one to stop for me. In marketing, you need to be on time no matter what – you need to be early, so cabs are the best way to get around. I still pay taxes, but now can’t get a taxi.”
The attorney for the advocates, Kara Werner, says the commission is mistaken, “The ADA exemption applies only to private entities, not government entities like the TLC. The TLC regulates the vehicles and has a responsibility to ensure that all New Yorkers can use taxicabs.”
The complainants believe that if New York City gets a fleet of wheelchair accessible taxis one can work almost anywhere, which seems only fair considering New York City has the most cabs in the nation. The group does not want any money, just a rule set to require that all current taxis be replaced with fully accessible taxis. Apparently, the TLC is currently looking into replacing all cabs with the Taxi of Tomorrow.