Assemblyman Micah Kellner is presenting an alternative proposal to the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s (TLC) Five Borough Taxi Plan that would require all new yellow taxis to be accessible. Kellner’ proposal has support from the taxi industry but the TLC says it is sticking to its own plan, which calls for only partial accessibility of the new fleet.
Kellner’s Access-for-All Taxi and Livery Plan (A4ATL) seeks to modify the “livery street hail” bill (A8496) that is pending in Albany. That bill was introduced in June and calls for 38 percent of 1,500 new yellow cabs to be accessible. The bill also proposes a task force to represent areas that are underserved by taxis and would issue permits to livery cabs to make outer-borough street pick-ups that are currently illegal.
Kellner’s plan would require all newly purchased yellow taxi medallions to be accessible, increasing the number of accessible taxis and liveries from about 300 to 3,000 in the next three years. The plan requires 20% of livery cabs in a new outer-borough street hail program to be accessible. It also calls for the establishment of a task force to improve taxi and livery accessibility.
Kellner said, “Currently finding an accessible taxi is like winning the lottery: you hope it will happen, but you don’t count on it. This plan creates a real opportunity for riders with disabilities to take advantage of New York’s most iconic mode of transportation.”
Representatives of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, the Livery Round Table, the Greater New York Taxi Association, the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers and the Taxicab Service Association released statements supporting the plan.
“The Greater New York Taxi Association enthusiastically supports Assembly Member Kellner's plan, which honors New York's moral, ethical and legal obligation to provide wheelchair accessible service for New Yorkers while preserving the financial integrity of the medallion system in which thousands of New Yorkers have invested their lives,” said Ethan Gerber, the association’s executive director.
“On behalf of the Livery Round Table, we are pleased that Assemblyman Kellner has worked with the industry to correct one of the two major flaws contained in the proposed (A8496) legislation to be sent to the Governor,” said Guy B. Palumbo, the organization’s executive director. “It is important that the issue of wheelchair accessible liveries be addressed in a constructive fashion along with the core flaw to the legislation, that being the implementation of a dual use livery system.”
TLC Deputy Commissioner Ashwini Chhabra said the commission is sticking by its Five Borough Taxi Plan, which calls for issuing permits for outer-borough taxis, issuing an additional 1,500 yellow medallions with 569 being wheelchair accessible and re-launching an accessible taxi dispatch system that uses the 3-1-1 call system to send cabs to riders with disabilities.
The initial dispatch system had received numerous complaints from advocates who favor equal opportunity to hail cabs. Chhabra called the TLC’s plan “more viable” than Kellner’s proposal. “That seems to be an agreement between the assemblyman and the taxi and livery industry. It wasn’t with the TLC,” he said about the new proposal.
This article was published in the September 2011 issue of Able News.