NEW YORK, N.Y.: United Spinal Association today acclaimed the unanimous vote by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission to increase the number of wheelchair accessible taxis to 50 percent of the entire fleet by 2020.
Beginning in January 2015 a 30 cent per ride surcharge will be applied to the 13,000-plus yellow cabs and street hail borough taxis, eventually increasing the number of yellow wheelchair accessible taxis from the current 405 cabs to at least 7,500.
“This victory is the result of 15 years of litigation by United Spinal and other disability advocates,” said James Weisman, United Spinal senior vice president and general counsel.
“The increase of access to all modes of transportation to the public will enhance the employability and lifestyle of wheelchairs users or people with mobility impairments who wish to live, work and travel in New York City,” he added.
“Reliable accessible transportation changes my life,” testified Ronnie Raymond, a United Spinal board member and wheelchair user who spoke during the TLC hearing just prior to the vote.
“I want to have a life that is meaningful, affordable and achievable,” she said, echoing the views of the many disability advocates who had gathered at the TLC headquarters to support the historic vote.
Weisman added, “The measure adopted by the TLC will create sufficient funds to purchase and maintain accessible taxis as well as to create a dispatch for accessible borough taxis.”
The plan also has the potential to dramatically reduce the city’s Access-A-Ride costs ($500 million this year) and exorbitant Medicaid ambulette costs ($200 million this year), noted Weisman.