New York Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said he will introduce a bill to require half of Uber and other black cars to be wheelchair accessible, just like yellow cabs.
As the taxi industry continues to reel, City Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez called for new rules to “level the playing field” between cabs and ride-hail operators like Uber, including requiring half of all app-based vehicles to be wheelchair-accessible. He also plans to establish a “blue-ribbon commission” to “investigate the fall in the value of medallions and what stands in the way of a comeback.”
Rodriguez spoke last Tuesday at a conference on the future of the medallion—a day after state regulators announced that a taxi lender based in Woodside, Queens, had been placed in conservatorship. It is the third taxi lender to be seized by the state in the past two years as a result of losses from owners defaulting on medallion loans.
Rodriguez’s words offered some comfort to medallion owners and their allies in the disability community, who have long complained of inaction on the part of elected officials to defend the industry.
Despite the friendly audience at the event, hosted by the University Transportation Research Center, his proposals face an uphill battle. A bill to have the 50% wheelchair-accessibility mandate apply to ride-hail operators and not just taxis was submitted to the City Council in 2015, but went nowhere.
While praising Uber as an innovative company, Rodriguez, a former livery car driver, said he’d like to see the Taxi and Limousine Commission create a new category to regulate only e-hail services.
He also wants Uber and other app-based operators to conduct environmental impact studies when they put large numbers of new vehicles on the street. He pointed out that the city had always been required to issue an environmental impact statement before selling new medallions.
“When tens of thousands of new for-hire vehicles hit the street causing traffic in Midtown Manhattan we see no measure of their impact on our environment,” Rodriguez said. “We need to require that those who put the most cars on our streets are accounting for the impact.” He added that he planned to introduce legislation on this issue “very soon.”
- Levelling the playing field against Uber? Particularly when it comes to offering accessible services.