Friday, January 14, 2011
NY Wheelchair Users Sue City Over Lack of Cabs
The lawsuit says that the commission's failure to require that taxis be accessible to the disabled is a violation of multiple civil rights laws. With only 231 of more than 13,000 New York City taxicabs accessible to people with disabilities, the complaint argues that the TLC ignores the needs of the disabled.
"Before I became disabled I was able to use taxis all the time, now I can't even get one to stop me for me," said plaintiff Chris Noel, who serves as co-chair of the Taxis for All Campaign. Noel works in marketing and says that using taxis is an essential aspect of what he does. "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 TLC says that while they consider accessibility a priority, the lawsuit is baseless.
"We have made tremendous strides over the years in improving transportation options for persons with disabilities, which we continue to prioritize," said TLC spokesman Allan J. Fromberg. "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."
But attorneys with the group Disability Rights Advocates, who represent the plaintiffs say the commission is mistaken.
"The ADA exemption applies only to private entities not government entities like the TLC," said attorney Kara Werner. "The TLC regulates the vehicles and has a responsibility to ensure that all New Yorkers can use taxicabs."