Bloomberg administration asks for approval to proceed with its taxi plan before ‘meaningful access’

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A taxi in Sunnyside. (chrisgoldny via flickr)
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The Bloomberg administration has asked an appeals court to stay a lower court’s decision that would prevent the city from implementing its so-called Borough Taxi plan, which would bring street-hail taxi service to neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs where yellow cabs rarely roam.

On Thursday, the city’s lead attorney, Michael Cardozo, filed what’s called a “motion for stay pending appeal” with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. It follows a notice of appeal filed Dec. 30.

At issue is a Dec. 23 decision by a lower court judge that bars the Bloomberg administration from implementing its plan.

"The [Taxi and Limousine Commission] must propose a comprehensive plan to provide meaningful access to taxicab service for disabled wheelchair bound passengers," wrote U.S. District Judge George Daniels. "Such a plan must include targeted goals and standards, as well as anticipated measurable results. Until such a plan is proposed and approved by this Court, all new taxi medallions sold or new street-hail livery licenses or permits issued by the TLC must be for wheelchair accessible vehicles."

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That’s problematic because the much-heralded agreement between Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the state legislature, announced the day before Daniels' decision (and specifically mentioned in that decision), would allow the city to issue 18,000 outer-borough taxi permits, only 20 percent of which must be wheelchair-accessible. That means that the city is essentially forbidden from moving forward with its outer-borough taxi plan until the judge says so, this even though the State Assembly approved the agreement, known as a chapter amendment, on Jan. 23, and the Senate is expected to act next week.

In its request for a stay, the city argues that the court “exceeded its jurisdiction,” when it enjoined the borough taxi agreement, since the agreement came only after the legal proceedings were well underway. Further, argues Cardozo, “the City will be irreperably harmed if the District Court’s order is not stayed.”

The full request for a stay pending appeal is here.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky’s declaration in support of the request can be found here.