A federal judge has approved a 30-cents-per-ride surcharge for New York City taxis to pay for the addition to the fleet of thousands of wheelchair accessible taxis.
Southern District Judge George Daniels (See Profile) followed a Monday conference by issuing an order Tuesday morning granting preliminary approval for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s plan to dramatically expand the number of accessible taxis. The surcharge had been a point of concern for Daniels, who had asked the parties for more information on how the funding would work.
The money will go into a Taxicab Improvement Fund to help medallion owners offset the cost of purchasing accessible vehicles.
The settlement of the civil rights class action The Taxis For All Campaign v. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, 11-cv-0237, has been long awaited by Disability Rights Advocates and a number of organizations who sued over a taxi fleet they said was virtually unusable for people with mobility disabilities.
Under the deal, beginning no later than Jan. 1, 2016, half of the medallion taxis routinely taken out of service will be replaced with accessible vehicles. By the end of 2020, the number of accessible vehicles should reach 7,000, or approximately 50 percent of the fleet. There are currently only 231. Daniels is expected to hold a final fairness hearing within the next 90 days.
Julia Pinover and Sid Wolinsky of Disability Rights Advocates served as lead lawyers on the case with co-counsel Daniel Brown, a Sheppard Mullin partner serving pro bono.
Assistant Corporation Counsel Michelle Goldberg-Chan is the lead lawyer for the city.
Pinover said Tuesday, “We couldn’t be more proud of the work our clients have done in collaboration with the city on this issue.”