Taxicabs are becoming more wheelchair friendly after three cities are trying to get more wheelchair accessible taxis out on the road. The Philadelphia Parking Authority and people who advocate for people who use wheelchairs are looking into equipment that would make wheelchair accessible taxis possible. Currently the city only has seven wheelchair accessible cabs and 1, 600 regular taxicabs. Jim Nye, from the Parking Authority, says that by the summer the Philadelphia Parking Authority will issue 45 taxi medallions or permits for taxicabs for wheelchair accessible taxi cabs. The Philadelphia Parking Authority will also issue 15 medallions for wheelchair accessible taxicabs every year for seven years. Dennis O’Brien, a councilman, said that seven cabs out of 1, 600 is not acceptable.
There are two issues that arise when it comes to taxi cabs: permits and insurance. The state has set the number of medallions for taxicabs at 1, 600 for many years. Corporations and individuals can own medallions and are transferred between sellers and buyers. A large number of cab drivers lease the medallions by the week, shift or day. Nye says that he thinks with the addition of vehicles and new vehicles, the insurance scheme for taxi cabs in Philadelphia is going to need to change because if there are going to be new vehicles, then they will need collision coverage. Nye says that currently those types of vehicles do not exist in the taxi fleet, so that is going to require changes.
New York City is also trying to make more taxicabs wheelchair accessible. A court hearing to make that happen was cancelled after mayor William de Blasio was elected in New York. The hearing was meant to discuss the plan to make 50 percent of all taxis wheelchair accessible by 2020. The group Taxis for All filed a class action lawsuit against the city for not providing enough wheelchair accessible taxis. US District Court Judge George Daniels and the group voted recently to give the mayor more time to create the plan. Michelle Goldberg-Cahn, the lawyer for New York, said that the mayor needs a month or more to discuss the plan with tax industry officials about how to make the plan happen. Daniels said that before the mayor makes a decision he needs to know from the city how they plan to accomplish the goal, how they will pay for the costs and if the plan includes making the new green cabs that travel outside the borough to be wheelchair accessible. Daniels asks if there is a plan for outer boroughs and if there is not then they should add it to the discussion.
Key West is becoming more wheelchair friendly by possibly passing a law that would allow taxi owners to convert their license to place vehicles that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act on streets. Five Sixes, who has two wheelchair accessible vehicles was the only company to support the law. Jan Dolan, the owner of Five Sixes, said that the company has local customers who are driven to dialysis and the hospital so she feels they should have more wheelchair accessible vehicles on the road. The law got a 5-2 vote at the commissioners meeting and will be given a final review at the next commissioners meeting.
Three cities are trying to make more taxicabs wheelchair accessible. New York, Philadelphia and Key West are all becoming more wheelchair friendly by pushing to add more wheelchair accessible taxicabs to their cities. New York is attempting to get a plan accepted that makes 50 percent of all taxis wheelchair accessible. Philadelphia is planning to issue 45 medallions for wheelchair accessible taxicabs and Key West is close to passing a law that allows taxi owners to convert their licenses to have wheelchair accessible vehicles on the road. Aside from more wheelchair accessible taxis, an application called WOW Taxi has been released in New York that allows people to call for a taxicab that is wheelchair accessible.
By Jordan Bonte