Nearly 500 of the city’s yellow cabs violate the Americans with Disabilities Act because they’re not wheelchair accessible, the state attorney general has concluded.
By any common-sense measure, Toyota Siennas and Ford Transit Connects are vans and must be able to carry wheelchair users under the federal ADA, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said in a letter last week .
Schneiderman is asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to adopt his opinion and enact clearer regulations.
The definition of van under the ADA is the subject of ongoing litigation between advocates and the Bloomberg administration. Schneiderman isn’t involved in the lawsuits but his opinion is “quite significant,” Jim Weisman, general counsel at the United Spinal Association, said. “He’s the chief law enforcement officer in the state.”
The United Spinal Association has asked a federal judge to declare Nisssan’s NV200 - the Bloomberg administration’s chosen “Taxi of Tomorrow” - a van that must be wheelchair accessible under the ADA.
Schneiderman’s letter doesn’t discuss the NV200. But the Nissan model has the same characteristics Schneiderman cited in evaluating the Sienna and Transit Connect, including a “boxlike” shape, typically featuring sliding doors on the side panels.
There are more than 13,200 yellow taxis. Only 231 of them are wheelchair accessible, although the city is planning to add 2,000 more in the next several years.
The current yellow cab fleet includes 472 Siennas and Transit Connects that do not have wheelchair ramps.
The Bloomberg administration has a deal with Nissan to be the sole producer of yellow NV200 NYC cabs for a decade. The first nine are in service. The city Taxi and Limousine Commission had no immediate comment.