Paul J. Tobin, president of VetsFirst and United Spinal Association participated in a press conference on May 2 hosted by New York City Comptroller John C. Liu calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to modify the proposed “Taxi of Tomorrow” agreement before sending the contract to the Comptroller’s Office for approval as required by the City Charter. Liu vowed to reject the agreement, until New York’s entire taxi fleet follows in the footsteps of cities like London and makes all cabs wheelchair accessible.
In December 2011, a federal court ruled that the City, through its Taxi and Limousine Commission, was in violation of the ADA.
The City’s proposal for a separate dispatch system for passengers using wheelchairs fails to address the underlying problem — there are not enough wheelchair accessible taxis in New York City. Only 231 of the City’s 13,000 yellow cabs, less than 2 percent, are wheelchair accessible.
VetsFirst believes this is a slap in the face, not only to New Yorkers who use wheelchairs, but all of our nation’s disabled vets.
“Today, more than 22 years after the ADA and after 10 years of war, the City of New York is consciously attempting to discriminate against disabled veterans who use wheelchairs. It is unconscionable and we applaud Comptroller Liu for not only doing what is legal, but what is right,” Tobin said
In April 2012, Mayor Michael Bloomberg rolled out New York City’s new “Taxi of Tomorrow”–Nissan’s NV200. Despite all the bells and whistles touted by the City, accessibility is not one of the key features of this cab.
“The new contract for taxis presents us with a historic opportunity to right a wrong that New Yorkers with disabilities have been fighting to achieve for nearly two decades,” Comptroller Liu said.
“Requiring cabs to have independent passenger climate controls is nice, but when you fail to make them accessible to a growing number of New Yorkers, it’s not just a slap in the face, it’s illegal. We will send back any plan that does not uphold the civil rights demanded by the Americans with Disabilities Act,” he explained.
Read Terry Moakley’s recent VetsFirst blog: The Origin of Accessible Public Transportation in New York City.