New York News
Appeals court overturns accessible taxi ruling
NEW YORK (WABC) -- A federal appeals court struck down a ruling Thursday that would have required New York City to give taxi licenses only to vehicles that are wheelchair accessible - disappointing disability advocates upset that fewer than 2 percent of city cabs can accommodate wheelchairs.
The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't require the city to demand that cabbies serve the disabled. Instead, the court ruled, in this case the ADA only bars the city Taxi & Limousine Commission from discriminating against disabled people seeking a license to drive a cab.
The law "prohibits the TLC from refusing to grant licenses to persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to own or operate a taxi," the justices wrote. "It does not assist persons who are consumers of the licensees' product."
The decision was a blow to disability advocates, who had heralded the lower court ruling that declared access to such services "a basic civil right."
"We're disappointed. But this is Round One of what is likely to be a lengthy battle on many fronts," said Sid Wolinsky, director of litigation for Disability Rights Advocates, which represented some of the plaintiffs.
Wolinsky argued his group could still ultimately win the lawsuit through other arguments that weren't addressed in the appeals court ruling. But the city's disabled residents will suffer in the interim, he said.
"What's going to happen now is probably going to take many, many months and even years to decide," he said. "While that happens the New York City taxi fleet is 98.2 percent inaccessible, and that's not going to change any time in the near future."
City officials didn't immediately comment.
The ruling's outcome has no direct bearing on the city's ongoing fight to sell 2,000 taxi medallions - auctions that the city is relying upon to balance its budget that takes effect July 1. All 2,000 medallions would be exclusively for wheelchair-accessible cabs, but the sales are on hold pending the outcome of a separate court challenge.
WAKE UP WITH EYEWITNESS NEWS! Click here to download the WABC Eyewitness News Alarm Clock app from iTunes. or search WABC or 7online in the app store.
Get Eyewitness News Delivered
new york city, taxi, legal, new york news
- Guinness drops sponsorship of St. Patrick's Day Parade 23 min ago
- AccuWeather: Snow For Some
- Live: Eyewitness News on 7online streamed live!
- Get WATCH ABC for your mobile device
- Brooklyn fire leaves 2 children critically hurt
- East Harlem investigation focuses on basement
- Church services to remember East Harlem victims
- Photos: East Harlem explosion
- 2 shot after fight at Garden City nightclub
- Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai wins 2014 NYC Half
- Photos: 2014 NYC Half Marathon
- Florida overall No. 1 seed for NCAA men's basketball tournament
- Final words from Malaysia jet came after systems shutdown
- Up Close with Diana Williams
Eyewitness News Links
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed Photos