Only a small number of taxis were created and designed to be wheelchair accessible. In order to increase the number of cabs serving wheelchair users, a surcharge for funding the upgrades has been recently approved.
The city of Manhattan is said to have about 13,000 yellow taxicabs, and yet only 600 are wheelchair-accessible. To help individuals on wheels have the same accessibility as any other citizen, the city’s federal judge, Judge George Daniels, approved a settlement stating that riders are required to pay a 30-cent surcharge. A surcharge is an additional or an extra fee added onto another fee or charge.
The surcharge approved by Daniels is meant to fund the upgrading of several taxicabs into wheelchair-friendly ones. This is to make travelling convenient and easier for all. According to Daniels this is an act of their city and the administration that demonstrates equality among all their citizens and proves that they value everyone, including those who have a physical limitation.
With such a settlement, advocates for accessibility were satisfied and the lawsuit they filed against the city regarding wheelchair accessibility among taxicabs in 2011 was put to rest. Under the approved deal, the city will implement the required 30-cent surcharge by the year 2015. The additional fee will fund the making 7,500 of the borough’s yellow taxicabs into wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
According to Daniels, with that amount of surcharge, at least $50 million will be generated every year. And by the year 2020, there will be more cabs in the city serving wheelchair users. Lawyer of Disability Rights Advocates, Atty. Sid Wolinsky, said that this deal will make the city the most accessible in the country.
However, Daniels admitted that the deal is not flawless or perfect. So he suggested that medallion owners interested and willing to make their taxicabs accessible to wheelchair should donate funds. The federal judge also urged and encouraged the city to regularly review and check the surcharge to make sure that passengers or riders are not being overcharged.
Though the settlement is yet to be implemented, many people are looking forward to it. The wheelchair-friendly taxis will be a great way to help individuals on mobility devices to go to other places with comfort and convenience.