For years, advocates have been battling City Hall, seeking to increase the number of wheelchair-accessible taxis on city streets, and now, the Bloomberg administration seems to be coming around to their view. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It’s an argument advocates for the disabled have been making for years. On Tuesday, it was coming from David Yassky, the head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
"We have 233 wheelchair-accessible taxis out of the 13,000. That is not enough," Yassky said. Absolutely. Period. End of story. Not enough."
The change, taxi officials said, is that the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow, manufactured by Nissan, can be configured in a wheelchair-accessible version that recent tests show is sturdy and reliable.
While the administration has sought to put 2,000 new accessible taxis on the street, it has opposed a bill by Councilman Oliver Koppell to convert the entire fleet.
"I do think that facts have changed," Yassky said. "I think that if there’s another hearing on it, it’s time to take a look and see what the position is then."
Another top transportation official, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, was a no-show at Tuesday’s City Council budget hearings.
"We have this constant problem," said Bronx Councilman James Vacca. "I mean, if Ray Kelly can come to an oversight hearing, I think Commissioner Sadik-Khan can come to an oversight hearing. And I’m very discouraged that she’s not here."
Vacca also slammed the DOT for its plan to dramatically hike parking rates at some municipal lots and for not assigning enough personnel to enforce a new commercial bike law.
Also testifying on Tuesday were officials from the MTA, a quasi-state agency the city has little control over. Still, City Council members used the opportunity to rail against recently implemented fare increases.
"It’s the same toll and fare increases, over and over again, and there’s no end in sight," Vacca said.
On the bright side, the MTA said it plans to replace the MetroCard within three to five years. It also said it would take a look at reviving F express service in Brooklyn when construction work there wraps later this year.