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Cuomo to Veto Livery Cab Hails Unless Taxis are Wheelchair Accessible

By Jill Colvin | December 6, 2011 11:00am
Cabs pass in Times Square on Aug. 27, 2011.
Cabs pass in Times Square on Aug. 27, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

MANHATTAN — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has threatened to veto legislation allowing livery cabs to accept hails on the street unless the city agrees to make every new cab included in the deal handicap-accessible, administration sources confirmed.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been pushing for a plan that would grant up to 30,000 new street hail permits that would allow livery cab owners to pick up passengers on the street in Upper Manhattan as well as in the outer boroughs, where yellow cabs rarely roam.

Livery cabs are currently banned from picking up street hails, and are only legally allowed to respond to calls from their dispatcher.

A version of the legislation passed by the State Assembly and State Senate requires that 569 of the new medallions be reserved for disability-accessible cars. But now, the governor now wants every one of those new cabs to be handicap-accessible, sources said

Bloomberg and the city have come under fire for refusing to make the city's cab fleet handicap accessible, arguing that federal guidelines don't require them to do so. The city selected a new, non-wheelchair accessible design for its upcoming fleet of cabs in its "Taxi of Tomorrow" competition, sparking outcry and a "roll in" protest by advocates.

Manhattan Federal Court judge Judge George B. Daniels is expected to rule before Christmas on a lawsuit filed against the city by attorneys representing wheelchair users and disability rights advocates, as well as the U.S. Justice Department, on the grounds that 100 percent of the city’s fleet of 13,000 taxis must be handicap-accessible.

Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said, "We are working collaboratively with the Governor and the Legislature to reach a positive resolution."

A spokesman for the Taxis for All campaign, which has been pushing for more accessible vehicles, applauded the veto threat, but said advocates would also like to see livery cabs, as well as every yellow cab, made accessible as well.

As part of the controversial plan, the Taxi & Limousine Commission would also be given permission to sell 1,500 new yellow cab medallions, meant to bring in hundreds of millions in new revenue. Bloomberg is banking on that money to help plug a multi-billion dollar hole in next year's city budget.