As with most political decisions these days, it’s not something for nothing and as the city prepares to add 7,500 wheelchair-accessible taxi and street-hail livery cabs on the roads by 2020 it also will have to deal with a proposed 30-cent taxi surcharge to help fund these new cabs.
Disabled advocates have been tireless in their effort to make cabs more wheelchair-friendly and while this appears to be a victory, those who will be footing the bill are not too excited. The proposed rate hike for taxi fares will go into effect January 1st of next year and will extend beyond 2020.
Under the previous administration headed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, there were only 631 wheelchair accessible cabs in a fleet of 13,637. Bloomberg had a vision for a “Taxi of Tomorrow” but the design wasn’t accessible for people who use wheelchairs and even the Department of Justice ruled the proposed taxis were discriminatory.
In order to fulfill a legal settlement reached by the Bloomberg administration and advocates last year, de Blasio says he is committed to making 50% of the Manhattan’s taxi fleet accessible to everyone. Before the surcharge goes into effect, it still needs to be approved by the Taxi & Limousine Commission.
One cab driver told the website Gothamist, “You’re gonna charge people that are not using wheelchairs for the people that are using wheelchairs. All cabs should be wheelchair-accessible you might as well have the whole fleet wheelchair-accessible”.
The Taxi & Limousine Commission vote on the proposal will be held on April 30th.