Courtesy NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
New proposed rules will significantly expand the number of accessible cabs on New York City streets, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) announced today. By 2020, half of all yellow taxis — 7,500 total — will be wheelchair accessible.
The transformation will be funded through a 30-cent per-ride Taxi Improvement Surcharge integrated into the yellow medallion taxicab fare as of January 1, 2015.
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The new wheelchair accessible cabs will begin to join the fleet starting in January 2016, joining the existing 631 accessible medallions. The commitment represents the next step in satisfying the terms of a settlement with disability advocates to ensure greater access and equity for New Yorkers with disabilities, according to a TLC statement.
“We are turning a corner here. New Yorkers with disabilities have fought for years to secure basic fairness in transportation. With the concrete rules and plans we are putting in place, we’re finally making an accessible taxi fleet a reality. This is a major step forward,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The rules will be the subject of a public hearing and vote on April 30 at 10 a.m., and if approved by the TLC’s board of commissioners, would be officially adopted the following month. The TLC is encouraging all New Yorkers to contribute to the process. The hearing and vote will be available for viewing via LiveStream.
The rules call for taxi fleets to phase-in wheelchair accessible taxicabs through their normal replacement cycle, starting on January 1, 2016, and continuing until each “minifleet” (pairings of two taxi medallions) is 50% accessible.
For “Individual” medallions, owned in single units, lotteries will be held to establish which owners must bring accessible vehicles into service. Taxi operators obligated to bring accessible taxis into service as part of this program will be eligible for grants to subsidize the cost of taxi conversion, and additional annual grants dedicated to higher maintenance costs associated with accessible vehicles.
A driver training component of the proposed rules package provides that all new, incoming taxi drivers who apply for their “hack” license after June 1, 2014 must receive wheelchair passenger assistance training, while all taxi drivers must receive training by the time of their first license renewal following January 1, 2016.