New York City comptroller John Liu, along with advocates for the disabled, say the Nissan NV200 doesn't meet requirements set forth by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) because the fleet won't be 100-percent wheelchair accessible, Transportation Nation reports. The city comptroller says he won't approve the contract that would make the Nissan NV the city's sole taxi for the next decade.
Kate O'Brien from the City Law Department says that nothing in the contract, including ADA compliance, is justification for not approving the contract, the report says. And Allan Fromberg from the Taxi and Limousine Commission says the city will create 2000 more wheelchair accessible medallion licenses and start using a new wheelchair accessible taxi dispatch system.
"We've made more progress on wheelchair-accessible transportation options in the past year than anyone has in the last three decades," Fromberg wrote in an email to Motor Trend.
Such a dispatch system specifically for wheelchair-accessible taxis wouldn't cover the estimated 60,000 New Yorkers in wheelchairs, John Weisman, an attorney with the United Spinal Association told Transportation Nation.
"The U.S. Department of Transportation and the ADA require all vans used as taxis to be wheelchair accessible," Weisman told Motor Trend in a phone interview. "The city is saying the new "Taxi for Tomorrow" is not a van." Weisman said that of the more than 1000 taxi vans currently in service, including Ford Transit Connects and Toyota Siennas, only about 200 were wheelchair accessible.
Currently, Braun is working out plans to convert some NV200 taxis to be wheelchair accessible. A design shown at the 2012 New York auto show would allow the wheelchair passenger access through the rear hatch using a 7-degree ramp, latching the chair in the passenger side middle-row seat area.
Only 2 percent of the more than 13,000 yellow cabs in New York City are now wheelchair accessible. Ironically, the NV200 beat out the Ford Transit Connect and Turkish Karsan V1 -- a fleet of taxis that would be 100-percent wheelchair accessible and be built in Brooklyn with union labor.
The new Nissan NV200 taxis are supposed to start rolling out next year and slowly replace the current fleet (comprising of mostly Ford Crown Victoria sedans) over the next decade.
Calls into Nissan have not yet been returned.
Source: Transportation Nation