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Court Rules NYC's Inaccessible Taxi System Does Not Violate the ADAIn December 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission violated the ADA by not requiring more of its taxis to be wheelchair accessible. Only 231 of the nearly 13,237 Yellow Cab taxis are considered accessible under ADA regulations, resulting in poor service of its disabled community and tourist to the city. In that ruling the court said, "The (Taxi and Limousine Commission) subjects disabled persons who must use wheelchairs and scooters to discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,...As a direct result of the TLC's policies and regulations, those disabled persons are not provided meaningful access to the benefits of the New York City taxicab service."
On Thursday, that decision was reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The ruling said, "Plaintiffs contend that the T.L.C. violates the A.D.A. because it could require more taxis to be accessible, but does not,...No doubt, more such taxis would be on the streets if the T.L.C. required more of them to be accessible. But the T.L.C.'s failure to use its regulatory authority does not amount to discrimination within the meaning of the A.D.A. or its regulations."
The city of New York has been under scrutiny for years because of its lack of accessibility which includes many broken sidewalk planks, inaccessible curb cuts and streets with no curb cuts at all. Its mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has recently been under similar scrutiny because of his lack of attention to his residents and visitors with disabilities. This was the case when he introduced his measure the so called "Taxi of Tomorrow Initiative" which would have meant a major overhaul of the city's taxicab system, but included nothing to improve or address wheelchair accessibility.
Of the newly overturned decision Mayor Bloomberg said, "Nothing in the ADA compels the city to require that taxis be wheelchair accessible...This ruling is consistent with common sense and the practical needs of both the taxi industry and the disabled, and we will continue our efforts to assist disabled riders."
Right now disabled visitors and residents must rely on Access-A-Ride a service offered by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the limited number of cabs available when compared to its population and average number of tourist and visitors. A new dispatch system will soon be unveiled to help delegate these cabs. A Plaintiff in the suit, Edith Prentiss of the Taxis For All Campaign said the dispatch system "was, and is, a joke. (The commission) will not be able to placate the disability community with this kind of second-class segregated service."
Another plaintiff in the case, James Weisman of the United Spinal Association said, "In the Jim Crow South, blacks were given separate inferior facilities and services,...This mayor treats people with disabilities in a similar fashion."