The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission and the mayor's top disability aide toured the city in a new wheelchair-accessible cab on Friday, as they discussed how much more access the city should provide. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
The Bloomberg administration has been fighting a federal lawsuit to require wheelchair accessible cabs and last week it was successful. A federal court reversed a decision to require new cabs in New York be wheelchair-accessible.
On the heels of that decision, David Yassky, the chairman of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, and Victor Calise, the mayor's top disability aide, toured the city in a new wheelchair-accessible cab through Manhattan on Friday. A NY1 crew accompanied their test ride.
There are just 231 cabs that accommodate wheelchairs.
"There is no doubt that someone in a wheelchair needs to be able to get a New York City taxicab and today you really can't," said Yassky.
As part of the five-borough cab plan, the administration wants to sell 2,000 new medallions for wheelchair-accessible cabs. That is currently tied up in state court.
In the meantime, within the next month, it will launch a new dispatch system for Manhattan.
"If I am standing on the corner of 72nd Street and Broadway, or sitting for that matter, on the corner of 72nd and Broadway and I want to get a cab, I can call the dispatch system," said Calise.
New Yorkers who dial 311 can hail a wheelchair-friendly cab.
Even with these new taxis and the launch of the city's new dispatch system, some disability advocates still are not pleased. They are calling for a fully accessible system and are exploring a potential appeal of last week's court decision.
"The idea that you would deliberate and as city government and say should we exclude or include part of our population and pick 'exclude' to me is repulsive. And they don't realize it's an offensive discriminatory practice," said Jim Weisman of the United Spinal Association.
But to the Bloomberg administration, it is still unclear how far it should go.
"The disabled community wants 100 percent and we are looking at other options to be able to provide that fleet and the Mayor's Office For People With Disabilities will advocate for as many taxis as we possibly can," said Calise.
Either way, it will be more than the current amount.