Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that an agreement has been reached to provide taxi service to all five boroughs of New York City and improve access to taxi and livery cabs for persons with disabilities.
Governor Cuomo will approve the bill and the legislature has agreed to introduce a chapter amendment in the next legislative session.
The agreement includes the creation of a new class of hail-accessible inter-borough livery licenses, 20% of which will be for vehicles accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will be authorized to issue up to 18,000 of these new licenses and will be required to provide grants of up to $15,000 to retrofit vehicles to accommodate the disabled or to purchase accessible vehicles. The agreement also authorizes the city to sell 2,000 new medallions, all of which will be restricted to vehicles that are accessible to the disabled.
"By working together and finding common ground, I am pleased that we have been able to reach a deal that will extend taxi and livery service to the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan, while ensuring full access for the disabled," Governor Cuomo said. "The bill as originally passed failed to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and did not provide any incentive for the livery industry to ensure disabled New Yorkers had full access to the taxicab system."
"Last January, in my State of the City speech, I announced that our Administration would seek to achieve a goal that had eluded the City for three decades: bringing legal taxi service to the 7 million New Yorkers who live outside Manhattan's Central Business District," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "Today, we have achieved that landmark goal and it is a huge victory for all New Yorkers who have ever sought to hail a cab outside of Manhattan and in northern Manhattan. The new law and the agreement reached today will also generate a much-needed billion dollars in revenue for the City through the sale of 2,000 new yellow medallions, all of which will be wheelchair accessible. In fact, today's agreement, by increasing the number of medallions sold by 500, will provide even more revenue for the City than the original bill passed in June."
Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos said, "Over the past six months we have worked hard with Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, the Assembly, and the stakeholders to address a number of concerns. Today's result is an improved piece of legislation that provides much-needed revenue for the City of New York and serves the needs of its residents and all of the interested parties."
Senator Marty Golden said, "A great deal of effort went into improving the original legislation and in many respects that goal has been accomplished. I am pleased that we can move forward on a signed bill with the understanding that agreed-upon enhancements will be made in January."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "This new agreement improves upon the original proposal by providing increased taxi service to the outer boroughs while accommodating the needs of the disabled community. Importantly, this means significant revenue to New York City without raising taxes. I am glad that this issue has been resolved."
Assemblyman Carl Heastie said, "I commend Speaker Silver and Governor Cuomo for their tremendous leadership in addressing an issue that has been unresolved for decades. This agreement will mean increased access to taxi service for outer borough residents and disabled individuals."
The agreement requires the TLC to prepare a Disabled Accessibility Plan that will ensure improved accessibility of all taxicabs, liveries and the new hail-accessible vehicles over a period of years through the gradual phase-in of accessible vehicles to the fleet. The Disabled Accessibility Plan will be prepared in consultation with disability rights groups and other stakeholders. The plan will be submitted for public comment and to the City Council, and for approval to the New York State Department of Transportation. Only 400 of the new taxicab medallions may be issued prior to the approval of the Disabled Accessibility Plan.