NEW YORK — The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission launched a new dispatch system on Friday that will provide wheelchair-accessible taxis on demand to people throughout Manhattan.
The program, which will be operated by the Connecticut-based Metro Taxi, will send the city’s 233 accessible cabs to pick up passengers in Manhattan and then shepherd them to destinations in all five boroughs, to all three major New York area airports and to both Westchester and Nassau counties.
“This is an entirely new kind of service,” Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said in a statement. “And it is a real and tangible reflection of our dedication to making quality taxicab service available to all those who want it.”
The dispatch system provides five ways for passengers to request a cab: call 311, call the dispatch center directly at 646-599-9999, send a text message request to 646-400-0789, use the free mobile app Wheels on Wheels, or order online at www.nycaccessibledispatch.org.
Dispatch passengers will pay the normal metered taxi fare, and all drivers of accessible cabs in New York will be trained in wheelchair assistance, proper boarding protocol, disability awareness and passenger sensitivity, if they haven’t been already, according to the TLC.
The city first proposed the idea of a dispatch system last year amid a legal battle with disability rights advocates, who said a dispatch system wasn’t enough and that the city’s entire fleet of 13,000 cabs should be made wheelchair accessible.
Although a federal court judge initially ruled that the city had to make more of its fleet accessible for people with disabilities, that ruling was overturned on appeal earlier this year.