Hello, I am Jean Ryan of Disabled In Action and the Taxis for ALL Campaign. This hearing and meeting of the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to approve proposals to require high-tech features in all yellow taxis stands in stark contrast to the need for a fully wheelchair-accessible taxi fleet. We can go out this building and see many cabs, but not one will be wheelchair-accessible. What good is an information screen or credit card machine or other high-tech feature if we canít get into the cab in the first place?
Somewhere in this city there are 29 accessible cabs (out of a total of 12,787), but where are they? Itís like an Elvis sighting. So far, I havenít seen Elvis or an accessible cab, so the 29 arenít much use to me or any of us here.
Ironically, right at this moment, NYC and Company, New York Cityís official tourism department, is hosting a huge and lavish convention of travel suppliers and buyers from around the world in a gamble to bring more foreign tourists to our city. We canít help but wonder what the foreign travel buyers will think when they find out that our fine city does not have a 100% wheelchair-accessible taxi cab fleet like London does. How many more bookings will our city lose out on because the DOT and TLC are more concerned with high-tech features than with wheelchair access for ALL our residents and visitors? We also wonder how our cityís taxi inaccessibility will play out in New York Cityís Olympic and Paralympics bid for 2012.
We want people to flock to our city for tourism and business purposes. We want people to feel welcome here. We ourselves want to feel welcome here.
We call upon Mayor Bloomberg, the DOT, and the TLC to rectify this lack of wheelchair access to yellow cabs and to make one hundred percent wheelchair access a number one priority. Cost is not an issue. As cabs need to be replaced, the cost difference for a wheelchair-accessible van is negligible; in fact, it would be about the same as installing these high-tech gadgets. Tax breaks are available, too, for anyone making a vehicle wheelchair-accessible.
Now is the time to act.
Jean Ryan, Vice Chair, Taxis For ALL Campaign and VP, Disabled In Action