David Yassky, the head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, firmly believes that the U.S. Attorney's office is wrong about New York's cabs being discriminatory against the handicapped, but just in case he wants the TLC to do more "to serve the needs of persons with disabilities." For instance, hey! They just approved a wheelchair accessible cab, for now.
The slick-looking $40,000 MV-1 (which is built in Indiana by VPG Autos) should be a nice addition to the city's fleet of cabs, just 231 of which are currently wheelchair accessible (out of 13,237). But its stay on our streets will be short lived as soon enough the "Taxi of Tomorrow" will be the city's only sanctioned model. Update: The TLC writes to inform us that in fact the MV-1 will still be authorized to remain on the road after the Taxi of Tomorrow begins hitting the streets in 2013.
Still, the TLC firmly believes (as does Mayor Bloomberg) that it is not misinterpreting the Americans with Disabilities Acts (which? By the way? Passed in 1990) even though the U. S. Attorney and a number of plaintiffs believe it is. Since after all, the TLC is "deep into the process of creating an innovative dispatch system that would match accessible taxicabs and for-hire vehicles with the people who need them via the 311 government hotline number." Because separate but equal always works, right? Wait, what?
Anyway, just in case, Yassky wants people to think outside the box about this problem which the TLC made for itself by choosing a "Taxi of Tomorrow" that wasn't wheelchair accessible (like the people's choice, from Karsan was). In an online column Yassky wrote:
While we firmly believe that our interpretation of the ADA is the correct one, we cannot ignore the possibility that a court order will at some point require a significant portion of the taxi fleet to convert to accessible vehicles. For this reason, we are working to make sure that the industry has options. Our partners on the Taxi of Tomorrow project, Nissan North America, has committed to ensuring that its vehicle is suitable for retrofitting, and to designating a qualified upfitter. Another option is the Vehicle Production Group’s accessible taxicab model, the MV-1, which was approved at our most recent public meeting. We have not yet seen this vehicle face the rigors of taxicab service, but we are cautiously optimistic that it will perform well.
So let's just see if we have this right? Instead of just picking a wheelchair-accessible cab that would have been built in Brooklyn, the TLC picked one that isn't which it will now try and maybe get retrofitted to be accessible at the same time adding yet another vehicle into the fleet and spending more money to create another version of the already-troubled Access-A-Ride program. Nope, still doesn't make sense.