NEW YORK – New York City’s Comptroller John C. Liu said he would reject the contract that would make Nissan’s NV200 the “Taxi of Tomorrow” until the city’s entire taxi fleet makes its cabs wheelchair accessible.
In his letter to NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Liu said that on Dec. 23, 2011, a federal court found that the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission was in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). His letter went on to say that “TLC was not providing meaningful taxicab access to disabled people who required wheelchairs, and that the lack of access was a direct result of TLC's pervasive policies, practices, and regulations of taxicabs in the City.”
"The new contract for taxis presents us with a historic opportunity to right a wrong that New Yorkers with disabilities have been fighting to achieve for nearly two decades," Liu said. "Requiring cabs to have independent passenger climate controls is nice, but when you fail to make them accessible to a growing number of New Yorkers, it's not just a slap in the face, it's illegal. We will send back any plan that does not uphold the civil rights demanded by the Americans with Disabilities Act."
Liu stated that although the City controls sales of taxi medallions, it currently doesn’t require taxis to be wheelchair accessible, and that currently less than 2% of them allow wheelchair access (231 out of a total fleet of 13,000).
Although a proposal exists to modify the NV200 taxis to make them wheelchair-accessible, and for a separate dispatch system that would direct passengers who use wheelchairs to appropriately equipped taxis, Liu said this fails to address the problem, which is a lack of wheelchair-accessible taxis. Liu goes on to say the City should modify the contract with Nissan and require the entire fleet of NV200 taxis to be wheelchair accessible.