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Court Says Taxis Don’t Have to Accommodate the Disabled

NEW YORK - MARCH 10:  A woman is hailing a yellow cab on Lower Manhatten on March 10, 2010 in New York, New York. Yellow taxis have been playing their trade in New York since 1912, becoming an icon synonymous with the "Big Apple" immoratalised in countless films and TV shows  around the world.  (Photo by Jan Johannessen/Getty Images)

In December, a federal judge ruled that the city's taxi fleet is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act since only 2 percent of its 13,000 cabs are wheelchair accessible. On Thursday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling, which would have required the Taxi and Limousine Commission to provide more “meaningful access” to wheelchair users. The court said that while the plaintiffs in the class action suit claimed the commission violates the law "because it could require more taxis to be accessible," it isn't preventing anyone from making their cab wheelchair accessible, so it hasn't broken the law.

The ruling said, according to DNA Info, "Although only 231 medallions are conditioned on wheelchair accessibility, none of the medallions issued by the T.L.C. prohibits any medallion owner from operating an accessible taxi." Ultimately the court found that the "T.L.C.’s failure to use its regulatory authority does not amount to discrimination within the meaning of the A.D.A. or its regulations.”

Mayor Bloomberg weighed in, saying, “This ruling is consistent with common sense and the practical needs of both the taxi industry and the disabled, and we will continue our efforts to assist disabled riders.”

The Times reports that the city may soon introduce a dispatch service that will allow passengers in wheelchairs to arrange for a pickup. However, one of the plaintiffs, Edith Prentiss of the Taxis for All Campaign, said the city “will not be able to placate the disability community with this kind of second-class segregated service.”

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Photo: Jan Johannessen/Getty Images