2005 City Budget Funds Accessible Taxi Program
The recently adopted 2005 budget agreement between the mayor and the City Council contains an allocation from the council of $1.3 million in funding to subsidize a Disabled Accessible Taxi Program. The budget document states that the fund’s purpose is “to promote and encourage equal accessibility of yellow medallion taxicabs to the disabled public.”
Currently in New York City, just 27 of a total of 12,787 yellow taxis are minivans outfitted with a ramp that allows wheelchair and scooter users to roll into the cab and to remain seated in their mobility device during their trip.
Leading proponents on the council of a Disabled Accessible Taxi program are Speaker Gifford Miller and Councilmember Margarita Lopez, who chairs the Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services. Miller was the originator of a similar fund that was included in the city’s Fiscal Year 2000 budget, but which was eliminated from the budget after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Lopez is the main sponsor, along with 36 additional co-sponsoring councilmembers, of Intro 84, a bill that would require future taxi accessibility. However, this bill has languished without a hearing in the council Transportation Committee for over one and a half years.
“We are very grateful to Speaker Miller, Councilmember Lopez and all the other council representatives who supported the restoration of the Disabled Accessible Taxi program fund,” Terence J. Moakley, wheelchair user and an employee at the Jackson Heights-based United Spinal Association, said.
Moakley, who also chairs the New York City Taxis For All Campaign coalition, added, “incentives similar to this fund have been very helpful in starting successful wheelchair accessible taxi services in hundreds of other cities, but without a law with teeth in it, like Intro 84, a small number of accessible taxis will never provide meaningful service to wheelchair-using residents and visitors. We urge the city council to adopt Intro 84 or a similar measure now.”
The Taxis For All Campaign is a coalition of leading disability groups in the city which since 1996 has advocated for improved access to the taxi and livery systems. United Spinal Association is a veterans service and disability rights organization whose members are individuals of all ages with spinal cord injury/disease.