New Yorkers with Disabilities Receive Inferior Services from the For-Hire Vehicle Industry

October 21, 2021

Disability Justice, News, Press Release

An image of paratransit with text that reads "Continuing to be Left Behind"

New York, NY – October 20, 2021 — Riders requesting wheelchair-accessible for-hire vehicles (FHVs) and taxis face service problems and disparities, according to a report on app-based ride services published today by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.

The report finds that although rules implemented in 2019 by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) have resulted in a modest increase in the number of fully accessible FHVs, riders with disabilities face consistently longer wait times, lower vehicle availability — and in some cases, significantly higher fares — than riders requesting inaccessible vehicles for identical routes and times.

This new analysis is based on 2,400 ride requests from five of the largest FHV and taxi-hailing apps in New York City: Arro, Curb, Lyft, Uber and Via. To test for disparities in estimated waiting times and prices, NYLPI requested 1,200 rides for accessible vehicles and 1,200 rides for inaccessible vehicles, at the same time and along an identical set of routes.

Eman Rimawi, an organizer and campaign coordinator in NYLPI’s Disability Justice Program said: “I have always had great difficulty getting an accessible FHV or taxi ride, and the fact that some accessible rides cost more than identical inaccessible rides is just plain inequitable and outrageous.”

The report makes urgent recommendations on how New York City must address the shortage of accessible vehicles and the disparities in the FHV and taxi industries, including:

  • A ban on new inaccessible FHV and taxi licenses;
  • Strong incentives for companies and drivers to operate wheelchair accessible vehicles in the outer boroughs;
  • Monitoring and enforcement by the TLC of pricing and wait-time discrimination; and
  • Rapid development and deployment of fully accessible, electric FHVs and taxis.

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