A federal judge ruled on Friday that the city’s current taxi fleet violates the Disabilities Act by not providing nearly enough cabs for those in wheelchairs. Less than 2% of the city’s 13,000 cabs — 232 out of 13,237, to be exact — are wheelchair-accessible. To put this into perspective: 100% of London’s 19,000 cabs are wheelchair-accessible.
The city administration must now present a report that describes a plan for expanding availability of wheelchair-accessible taxis.
This really complicates things for Bloomberg and Cuomo. First off, the city can’t move ahead with their much-touted plan to sell new permits for outer-borough livery cabs until the judge approves the report. Only permits for wheelchair-accessible livery cabs will be allowed. (The city was planning to have only 20% of the new livery cabs be wheelchair-accessible.) Further, under the ruling, the city cannot auction more than 400 yellow cab medallions until these issues are addressed. This is a budgeting nightmare: over the next three years, authorities were planning to sell 2000 medallions, which provides a very nice chunk of change that was already calculated into next year’s budget.