New York City’s three biggest ride-hail companies have banded together to undo the recently passed Taxi and Limousine Commission mandate requiring them to make wheelchair accessible service a growing part of their operations.
Uber, Lyft, and Via filed a petition in state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday asking that the TLC mandate be vacated and annulled. The rules are set to go into effect in July, and will require that within 12 months 5% of all trips dispatched by the operators be in wheelchair accessible vehicles.
The portion will rise to 25% by July 2023. The accessible rides will be required regardless of whether they were requested by a person using a wheelchair, which the city says will keep the vehicles in operation and improve service for those who need them.
The rules apply across the for-hire vehicle industry, which has resisted adding accessible rides to their operations even as the taxi industry has been struggling to meet a 50% accessibility mandate by 2020.
The petition on Friday described the TLC’s mandate as well-meaning but entirely impractical and enacted with no regard for the actual need for the service or the impact it will have on the industry. “Unfortunately, in an effort to placate one constituency, the TLC has imposed an arbitrary and capricious mandate that unreasonably burdens another,” the companies argue in the petition. “If implemented, the TLC’s rule will not only fail to meet any stated or defined metric of success; it also will wreak irreparable economic damage on the entire FHV industry, from the largest app-based companies to the most vulnerable small base operators.”
In a separate action, five trade groups representing livery cabs, black cars and limos will appear in federal court in Manhattan on Monday to argue for a temporary injunction against the mandate. The five groups, which include the Livery Base Owners Association, the Livery Round Table and the Black Car Fund, were originally joined with the app-based operators as part of an FHV Coalition.
Earlier this week, disability advocates including United Spinal Association and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest filed an amicus brief in federal court in Manhattan in opposition to the motion for a preliminary injunction. The advocates’ brief defends the TLC against the FHV operators but argues that the city’s plan does not go far enough to provide equivalent service for people with disabilities in accordance with anti-discrimination statutes.
- Uber, Lyft and Via sue in New York City to block wheelchair-accessibility mandate.