De Blasio plans a taxi-accessibility surcharge

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Taxis. (Nissan via AP Images)
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Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration finally has a plan to make New York City's taxi and limousine fleet more wheelchair accessible.

On April 24, the de Blasio administration's Taxi and Limousine Commission will hold a hearing on rules that will impose a $0.30 per ride surcharge on all taxi and boro taxi riders, according to a copy of the draft proposal obtained by Capital.

The revenue will finance the conversion of both yellow and borough taxi vehicles from non-wheelchair-accessible vehicles to accessible ones.

Both surcharges would begin in 2015, and conversions would begin by 2016.

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The rules address concerns raised by the yellow taxi industry about affordability (accessible cabs cost more money than unaccessible cabs), and would require all new drivers to get "wheelchair passenger assistance training" starting June 1 of this year.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission had no immediate comment.

The purpose of the rules is to make half of the taxi fleet accessible by 2020, as required by a legal settlement reached by the Bloomberg administration and accessibility advocates late last year.

The terms of the agreement required the Taxi and Limousine Commission to approve rules implementing the agreement by the end of March, but de Blasio waited to name a taxi commissioner, and the vote was subsequently delayed.

The rules will also, presumably, serve another useful purpose for the de Blasio administration.

As part of the Bloomberg's borough taxi legislation, which created a new fleet of green taxis to service the outer boroughs, the state agreed to let the city sell 2,000 regular yellow taxi medallions, which typically go for more than $1 million each.

But, according to that same legislation, the city could only sell 400 of those medallions, until the city got state approval for a plan to make New York City's taxi and limousine fleet meaningfully accessible.