In the latest round of legal battles involving access to New York City taxis, an appeals court struck down a ruling that would have required the granting of taxi licenses only to wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 28 that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits the city only from discriminating against people with disabilities seeking a taxi medallion as a driver, not from failing to make the entire taxi fleet accessible.
The accessibility of New York’s taxi fleet has been at the center of a fierce court battle ever since the city, in its “Taxi of Tomorrow” competition, selected as the winner a Nissan vehicle without wheelchair access over accessible entries. Currently, fewer than 2 percent of the city’s cabs can accommodate wheelchair users.
Sid Wolinsky of Disability Rights Advocates, representing the plaintiffs in the suit, expressed disappointment in the ruling. “This is round one in what is likely to be a lengthy battle,” he told the Washington Post. “While that happens, the New York City taxi fleet is 98.2 percent inaccessible, and that’s not going to change any time in the near future.”