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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

NYC Cab of Tommorrow: A Bipedal Only Cab

Mayor Bloomberg announced the winner of the "taxi of tomorrow" winner. The winner is a a suburban mom mobile, the Nissan NV200. The taxis that will come to dominate the city has lots of features people want. Passenger airbags, a GPS system, USB charging ports, separate climate controls, sliding doors, see through roof, and it gets 25 mpg. The contract between Nissan and the city will last 10 years and is worth about $1 billion in sales. Mayor Bloomberg is thrilled. He stated "It's going to be the safest and most convenient cab the city has ever had. They will be custom designed to meet the specific demands of carrying 6000,000 passengers a day in New York City traffic".

I have no idea if Mayor Bloomberg made the right choice in selecting the Nissan NV 200. But I do know Bloomberg and the Taxi and Limousine Commission do not give a damn about wheelchair access. Yes, I suppose we pesky people with a disability, especially those that use a wheelchair, are not part of the future. It is hard to get excited knowing that of the 13,237 taxis in New York City a grand total of 240 are required to be accessible. Getting a cab in New York City is never easy for a person that uses a wheelchair. In my experience a NYC cabbie would rather pick up a deranged and armed gunman before stopping for a person that uses a wheelchair. If you think I exaggerate I suggest you try to hail a cab using a wheelchair. The so called "taxi of tomorrow" is yet another sign of inequality. It is a not so subtle fuck you to every New Yorker that uses a wheelchair. In fact., I think it is an in your face sort of fuck you. We crippled people are not part of the past, present, or future. What this means to me is that for the next decade or more getting a cab in New York City will remain problematic at best. Yes, the cabs will transport 600,000 people. 600,000 people that can walk. We people that have a disability and use a wheelchair are screwed. Worse yet, I am not surprised. This is just another example of how people with a disability always seem to get the shaft. It is so common, so expected, it does not even merit shock and indignation. Only one story I read about the "taxi of tomorrow" even mentioned the lack of wheelchair access. Where is the outrage? I am mad as hell and seem to be the lone voice of dissent. How is that we have an amenity laden cab and yet one that is not accessible. The reason is simple: we value a GPS unit, we value USB ports, we value a sun roof, sliding doors, air bags etc. We value these things. They are part of the fabric of our lives. Today, I realize my existence as a New Yorker is not as important as material things. What a sad but not surprising commentary.


Carrie said...

As a power wheelchair user whose "dream trip" is to go to NYC, this makes me incredibly sad.

Unknown said...

My friends have been complaining about it, and rightfully so! What kind of future is this? Not one that I want to live in :(

Anonymous said...

You are not alone in being outraged, however, most of the people in my town are quite confused as to how anyone in NYC, which is close to 10 times our size, could miss the solution at which we arrived years ago. We not only have a taxi cab service that actually does have accessible cabs with courteous, respectful, helpful, English-speaking drivers. It's true, they're only one of about 8 companies, but they're widely known as the best because the drivers are so nice, & they have one of the biggest fleets. We also have two different services providing transportation specifically for people with disabilities- anyone even remotely connected with the University can take the Bionic bus, a free service that is wheelchair-accessible and serves not only the campus but the whole city, & SEATS, a free taxi service available to anyone with a disability that serves the entire county. The only mystery here is, if a small midwestern town can figure out this problem and develop a workable, affordable solution, then why can't NYC do it, given that they have a lot more money, more resources, & a much larger tax base? Get with the program, NYC.