Brooklyn Boro

Carone continues call for better wheelchair accessibility in taxicabs

December 14, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Frank Carone fought for a 30-cent surcharge to make yellow and green cabs ADA compliant and now wants to see more done to make Ubers, Lyfts and black cars more compliant in order to reach his goal of 100 percent wheelchair accessibility in all taxis. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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Frank Carone, executive partner at Abrams Fensterman, has renewed his call for 100 percent wheelchair accessibility in all New York City taxis and said that something has to be done to force for-hire companies, like Uber and Lyft, to help in this effort.

In 2011 there were just 231 wheelchair-accessible cabs in New York City. Today, there are more than 1,700. The difference, in part, was a regulation that Carone helped to pass while he was with the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission that created a 30-cent surcharge for all taxi rides. Now that Uber and Lyft have become popular there is nothing compelling these companies to provide for the disabled.

“At the time that we were able to approve a 30-cent surcharge per ride to pay to get yellow and green cabs ADA complaint there was no phenomenon known as ride-sharing, Uber or Lyft,” Carone said. “That has then totally changed the landscape of for-hire services through the city of New York.”

“My view today is the natural evolution is not to merely require one segment of the industry, namely yellow medallions,” Carone said. “We now have over 100k new vehicles on the road, [and] the proper rulemaking can really correct this long, fundamental flaw in our industry — lack of service for the most vulnerable of our city, those needing accessible vehicles.”

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Current regulations require 50 percent of yellow taxis to be wheelchair accessible by 2020 and 30 percent of green taxis to meet that standard by 2024. Carone would like to see those numbers eventually reach 100 percent, but knows that it won’t happen without regulations in place for the for-hire industry. He’d like to see the for-hire industry, which also includes black cars, have at least 25 percent wheelchair accessibility.

“During my tenure on the TLC, we heard from many wheelchair-using New Yorkers frustrated at their inability to easily move around town, such as a Bronx resident who had to take a bus to an accessible subway station, then two trains and another bus to visit a friend in the hospital,” Carone wrote in his Daily News editorial. “A wheelchair-accessible cab or livery would have made the trip far easier.”

His proposal that he discussed in the Daily News would allow base stations to dispatch cars out of their own class, meaning that companies could dispatch any wheelchair-accessible car through a shared database. So if Lyft got a call for a wheelchair-accessible car, it could arrange a green taxi to pick up that customer if it had none available. He explained that it would guarantee plenty of available cars, while also sharing the cost burden of purchasing new equipment.

He explained to the Brooklyn Eagle that he is not proposing a surcharge on Ubers/Lyfts and black cars because, unlike yellow and green cars, which are regulated by the TLC, those companies are free to set their own prices.

“This is important if we are ever going to get to 100 percent accessibility,” Carone said. “It will also impact tourism, productivity and a fundamental right of those in a wheelchair to enjoy the cultural, social and economic benefits that NYC has to offer. The TLC staff has crafted a plan that is economically feasible, eminently achievable and will accomplish what I will hope for — real accessibility.”

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