Appeals court strikes down NY taxi decision
June 28th, 2012
A federal appeals court says New York City doesn’t have to require its fleet of licensed yellow taxis be wheelchair accessible, reversing an earlier ruling and upsetting disability advocates.
The court determined earlier today that the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission was not in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Plaintiffs contend that the TLC violates the ADA because it could require more taxis to be accessible, but does not. The TLCís licensing requirements do not discriminate and do not cause anyone else to discriminate, by licensing or otherwise. The TLCís licenses do not bar taxi owners from operating accessible vehicles. The only medallions that specify whether the taxi must be accessible specify that the taxi operated pursuant to that license be accessible. No doubt, more such taxis would be on the streets if the TLC required more of them to be accessible. But the TLCís failure to use its regulatory authority does not amount to discrimination within the meaning of the ADA or its regulations.
Instead, the court blamed the taxi industry for the problem.
The class-action lawsuit was brought against the TLC by two people who use wheelchairs and advocacy organizations.
Chris Noel, one of the two plaintiffs, said in a statement that he was “very disappointed” but would continue advocating for accessible taxis.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the ruling “consistent with common sense and the practical needs of both the taxi industry and the disabled.”
Of the 13,237 medallions allowed by law, only 231 are designated for wheelchair accessible vehicles, the court said. “The record shows that the chances of hailing any taxi in Manhattan within 10 minutes is 87.33 percent, whereas the chances of hailing an accessible taxi within 10 minutes is 3.31 percent,” the court wrote.
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