NYC Mayor de Blasio and the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission are both reportedly weighing separate plans to impose some sort of accessibility requirement on Uber and other e-hail taxi companies.
Under current law, a full 50% of yellow taxis will have to be wheelchair accessible. But for Uber, Lyft and other e-hail taxis, which are licensed as black cars, the law requires just one accessible vehicle for an entire base– and a base can include more than 1000 cars.
This huge disparity in regulatory treatment is currently the subject of litigation in a Brooklyn federal court. Advocates for wheelchair users have also commented on the inequality of obligations and want Uber and its competitors to do more.
Now, according to Politico New York, there are plans afoot to impose some more meaningful obligation on e-hail taxis: The report states that Uber is working with the Mayor’s office:
In discussions with taxi industry stakeholders, Uber has suggested that the city levy a small per-trip fee on “for-hire” vehicles, a classification that includes Uber. The money would go to a fund that the city would administer.
Via that fund, the industry would offer sweeteners to bases and drivers to get them to deploy accessible vehicles.
TLC Chair Meera Joshi is hatching her own plan that “would require all black and livery car companies to ensure a percentage of their trips involve wheelchair accessible vehicles, even if those vehicles aren’t actually picking up people in wheelchairs.”
“This means that each company could decide what caliber of accessible vehicle would meet the expectations of all of its customers,” Joshi said in a statement quoted by Politico New York.
Yellow taxis, of course, get no such choice. They must employ a retrofitted accessible version of the so-called Taxi of Tomorrow.