A group of disability advocates told a federal judge in February that New York City is failing to comply with a settlement reached a decade ago that called for half of yellow taxis to be accessible for people with disabilities. In 2013, the city agreed that at least half of all yellow cabs would comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act by 2020. Less than 2% of taxis were accessible at the time.

When 2020 hit, advocates returned to the negotiating table amenable to an extension due to the pandemic and the rise of Uber and Lyft in the intervening years. They agreed to extend the deadline to 2023, but now that it has passed, the advocates are petitioning the judge to compel the city’s compliance.

As of February, about 4,300 of the just over 9,000 yellow cabs on the road were accessible. The TLC added that are also now over 9,000 accessible for-hire vehicles and livery cabs, out of nearly 100,000 Ubers and Lyfts on the road.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs say they met with Adams administration representatives in January and walked away with the feeling the city wanted “to be free from any obligation” to make all taxis accessible. The plaintiffs requested a court order compelling the TLC to follow the stipulations of the settlement, but TLC spokesperson Jason Kersten pointed out that the number of accessible taxis has increased threefold in the past five years.

“We are committed to accessibility and currently drafting proposed rules to make wheelchair-accessible taxis more affordable for operators,” said Kersten. “But when you factor in our entire fleet, we now have almost three times the number of accessible vehicles than we did five years ago.”

Sources: NY1, am NY

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