Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hailing a Cab (maybe)

Although we've never made the trip, my family would love to visit New York City. We've never been in a city that large or in my opinion, that exciting, and a visit one day is very appealing to us. But I may now have to rethink that...

You see, New York City's Mayor Bloomberg, thinks accessible taxis are a waste of time and money. And of course, one cannot visit NYC without at some point having to take a cab. Here are a few of Mayor Bloomberg's comments about accessible cabs:

"Their suspension is much worse, so the average person riding in them finds them really uncomfortable,"

"If you're in a wheelchair, it's really hard to go out in the street and hail down a cab and get the cab to pull over and get into [it],"

Mayor Bloomberg also said that accessible cabs would inconvenience able-bodied passengers, and noted that hacks don't like them because they are so spacious that the drivers can't establish rapport with riders - and get smaller tips as a result.

The sad fact is that only 231 of the city's 13,000 taxis are accessible to people with wheelchairs. And since my family has two wheelchair users, I'm guessing a trip to NYC is not in our future...

According to the New York Daily News:

Champions of the handicapped immediately ripped Bloomberg's "insulting" riff.

"The mayor's completely out of touch," said Assemblyman Micah Kellner, a Manhattan Democrat who was born with cerebral palsy. "When was the last time Mayor Bloomberg used a New York City taxi or a wheelchair?"

Added Edith Prentiss of the Taxis For All Campaign: "It's a sad day for New York City when a mayor works so hard to deny people like me the right to take a taxi. It's wrong, it's indefensible,and it won't stand."

So where do you stand on this issue? Do you think New York City needs more accessible cabs, or do you think the Mayor is correct - it's not a realistic solution? Keep in mind as you answer that question that the decisions made in New York City have the potential to drive decisons for smaller cities - maybe even yours.

(image courtesy of David Handschuh, New York Daily News)


jwg said...

Great timing! I'm heading into the city on Sunday to see a show. I can take the train in, using my scooter, but if the weather is as bad as they predict I cannot take the scooter for the 10 or so block long ride to the theatre. If a taxi were an option it would solve my problem. Now I will probably have to drive in, something the Mayor is trying to discourage, and try and find an (expensive) parking garage nearby. The Mayor is an insensitive jerk.

Becky said...

I can't help thinking of the other public transportation services that the city has to offer and how they attempt to accommodate all of their passengers.

I personally think that the busses do the best job of this. I'm pretty sure that they're all accessible. There are, of course, other passengers who start fussing about waiting around while the driver helps a passenger in a wheelchair to board, but the drivers always seem courteous and helpful.

Things get trickier with the subway system though. The newer trains helpfully include which stations are accessible in the maps, but it looks more difficult than that. http://www.mta.info/accessibility/stations.htm#manhattan For example, only some trains at particular stations are actually accessible. Sometimes there is only access to a train heading in a particular direction. This also doesn't go into how frequently elevators might be down.

I've never tried to get around the city while limiting myself to the routes individuals in wheelchairs would have to use.