The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) voted unanimously today to add a 30 cent surcharge to yellow taxis and outer borough green taxis starting New Year's Day 2015. The surcharge will be used to make taxis wheelchair accessible, bringing the number of accessible vehicles to 7,500 by 2020?representing half of all yellow cabs.
Those new taxis will become available in January 2016. Their arrival will represent the largest expansion of wheelchair accessible cabs in the industry's 107-year history. The rules approved today will also satisfy a settlement with disability advocates to allow for greater access for taxi riders with disabilities.
"The actions taken today by the Taxi and Limousine Commission as a unified body represent the most significant advancement in equality for persons with disabilities in the taxi industry's history," said TLC Chair and CEO Meera Joshi, in her first public meeting. "It was a privilege to vote alongside my fellow commission members for this empowering and timely initiative."
Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, hailed the vote as a win not just for the disabled population but an important step in fulfilling Mayor De Blasio's vision of a more equitable New York.
"The Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities applauds the TLC Commissioners for voting to make NYC cabs accessible for all," he continued "Advocates, MOPD and TLC have worked hard and long to make this day a reality. This vote clearly puts forth Mayor de Blasio's progressive agenda in providing services for the most vulnerable populations."
Underscoring the extra expense required to make taxis wheelchair accessible, taxi operators who convert their cabs will be eligible for a grant to subsidize the cost. There will also be funds available on an annual basis to allow taxi operators to afford the higher maintenance costs of the vehicles. New taxi drivers who apply for their license after June 1, 2014 will have to undergo wheelchair passenger assistance training with all taxi drivers required to receive the training upon their first renewal license after January 1, 2016.