Increase Access to Taxis for All

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United Spinal supports local and federal policies that create affordable, accessible, and safe transportation options for all. Access to transportation is vital for employment, contributing to one’s civic and religious community, supporting one’s family and maintaining an active social life.

Taxi service is provided in large and small cities around the country. Taxis can provide convenient transportation at short notice for many Americans. Wheelchair accessible taxi service can be found in Chicago, San Francisco, and soon, Manhattan. 100% of London’s taxis are accessible. Toronto has voted to achieve a 100% accessible fleet. In too many cities accessible taxi service is limited or nonexistent.

Many people with disabilities who cannot drive, do not own a car, are far from public transit, or simply need to get to their destination in short order, are barred from taxis. Adults with disabilities are twice as likely as those without disabilities to have inadequate transportation (31 percent versus 13 percent). In 2012, only 17.8% of all people with disabilities were employed. Nearly 30% of people with disabilities who live in the community live in poverty. Inadequate access to transportation contributes to high unemployment and poverty rates for people with disabilities. In addition, accessible taxis can and do provide an alternative to paratransit, Medicaid ambulettes and other transportation services.

United Spinal has been a partner in the successful New York City Taxis for All campaign for many years. Taxis for All advocated for an accessible taxi fleet that would allow people with disabilities to hail a cab from any NYC street. United Spinal is advocating for 100% accessible taxi service in Washington, DC. United Spinal will continue to advocate for access to all modes of transportation as a civil right.

04/22/2014: United Spinal presents on ‘Taxis for All’ on the National Disability Leadership Network Organizers Forum. The Forum allows disability advocates and organizers from around the country to share and learn from each other. United Spinal offers a Taxis for All Summary & Resources handout.

3/11/2014: United spinal SVP General Counsel Jim Weisman and Board Member Ronnie Raymond, attend MV-1 production launch event. MV-1 is a universally accessible, purpose built vehicle that can be used as a taxi.

02/19/19: Toronto City Council votes to transform their taxi fleet to a 100% accessible fleet by 2020. SCI Ontario celebrates after advocating for all people with disabilities.

02/19/2014: United Spinal testifies at the DCTC Oversight Committee hearing, recommending the disability advisory committee receive additional support and the district continue efforts to reach a 100% accessible taxi fleet.

02/14/2014: The DC Taxi Commission Disability Advisory Committee submits its report, recommending a 100% accessible taxi fleet in the District.

12/6/2013: A historic settlement agreement was announced between the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), United Spinal Association, and other disability organizations that would make 50 percent of yellow taxis in Manhattan wheelchair accessible.

4/18/2013:City Council hearing on Proposed Int. No. 433-A, a bill that would require all new taxis in NY to be accessible. Bloomberg’s Administration continues to oppose accessible taxis. The law will be voted on within 30 days of the hearing.

4/2013: The Southern District Court of NY District Court allowed disability advocates to include in their case against the TLC a complaint citing that the Nissan NV200 is a van and, as such, violates the ADA which requires new vans to be wheelchair accessible

01/2013: The DC Disability Taxicab Advisory Committee is established to advise the DC Taxi Commission on how to make taxicab service in the District more accessible to people with disabilities. Members or representatives of the disability advocacy community comprise half the committee. United Spinal participates and serves as the Secretary, then Vice-Chair

12/19/12: Easter Seals Project ACTION webinar on accessible taxis highlights accessible taxi service in NY’s outer boroughs, San Francisco, and first purpose built accessible taxi, MV-1

8/2012: The NY State Supreme Court overturned the HAIL Act, stating that the city had violated the home-rule provisions of the State Constitution because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had initially taken the issue to the City Council and was blocked. There were three separate lawsuits, all filed by the taxi industry. The industry argued that the law violated the rights of taxi drivers who owned medallions and paid for the right to pick up street hails, that the 2,000 new medallions would create unnecessary competition, and that livery drivers deserved added security measures before picking up street hails, among other things. The Taxicab Association lawsuit stated that the wheelchair accessibility issue could be addressed without state involvement. The vast majority of the arguments against the state law did not revolve around wheelchair accessible taxis.

07/10/2012: The DC City Council passes the DC Taxicab Service Improvement Amendment Act of 2012. The law mandates a taxi commission disability advisory committee to draft a report on increasing accessible taxi service. The law also requires larger taxi fleets to include a limited number of accessible taxis in their fleets

2/2012: Governor Cuomo signed A8691A-2011, otherwise known as the HAIL Act (Hail Accessible Inter-borough License), into law. The legislation would have issued 18,000 hail licenses for NYC’s five boroughs. These new licenses would have gone to livery cabs (non-metered car services). The law required that 20 percent of the new licenses go towards wheelchair accessible vehicles. In addition, the law allowed for the sale of 2,000 new wheelchair accessible taxi medallions. This would have raised $1 billion for the city.

5/2011: The TLC announced a contract with for the Nissan NV200 as the city’s official Taxi of Tomorrow. The mini-van would replace the city’s 13,000 taxis and would be phased in over 5 years, Taxi of Tomorrow.

12/23/2011: The Southern District Court of New York court stated that meaningful access to taxis was required. The TLC appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Second Court sided with the TLC and sent the case back to the Southern District which has allowed disability advocates to include in their case a complaint citing that the City’s proposed choice for its ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’––the Nissan NV200––is a van and, as such, violates the ADA which requires new vans to be wheelchair accessible.

12/20/2011: United Spinal goes to Albany, NY and wins the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who forced Mayor Michael Bloomberg (as outspoken an opponent of accessible taxis as Mayor Ed Koch was of accessible mass transit 30 years before) to agree to a state statute requiring 2,000 new accessible taxis in Manhattan and at least 3,600 accessible taxis in the other four boroughs (a taxi owner’s group recently sued and obtained an injunction preventing this law from being applied).

11/17/2011: Iowa Senator Tom Harkin who chairs the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on Capitol Hill regarding the state of accessible transportation in the US. Harkin showed support for United Spinal’s advocacy efforts to make New York City’s taxi fleet fully accessible and criticized Mayor Bloomberg’s stance on the issue.

10/2011: The Justice Department (US DOJ) files a statement of interest in support of people with disabilities stating every taxi should be accessible.

1/2011: United Spinal, along with other disability groups filed a class action lawsuit, Noel, et al. v. Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), against the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) arguing that the TLC is covered by Title 2 of the ADA and as such must provide meaningful access to NYC’s taxi system. The suit is significant, in part, because the TLC is on the verge of selecting a new model for New York’s entire fleet of taxis. The taxi fleet will start to be replaced with the new model during the next two years. The Justice Department (US DOJ) filed a statement of interest in the case in support of people with disabilities stating every taxi should be accessible.

Advocacy Action

If you have taxi service in your hometown and want to see more accessible taxis, please contact Carol Tyson at for resources that will get you started. United Spinal needs its members, friends and enemies to support our accessible taxi efforts in the nation’s capitol.

Action to support increased accessible taxis in our nation’s capitol coming soon! Please check back.

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