Lack Of Accessible Cabs Doesn’t Sit Well With Senator
More than two decades after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the chief architects of the legislation is looking to eliminate transportation hurdles that people with disabilities continue to face.
At a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, lamented the lack of accessible taxis even in the nation’s biggest cities and sympathized with Americans with disabilities who struggle daily to get from point A to point B.
“Unfortunately,… more than 21 years since the passage of the ADA, we have not yet achieved equality in access to transportation,” Harkin said.
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In particular, the senator indicated that he’s troubled by a recent decision in New York to select a new cab that’s not fully accessible to become the city’s “taxi of tomorrow.” While Harkin said he does not expect old cabs to be altered, he would like all new ones to be fully accessible — something he pointed out occurred long ago in London.
“If London can have a taxicab fleet that is 100 percent wheelchair-accessible,… then I will never understand why New York City and other American cities can’t achieve the same goal,” Harkin said.
The hearing Thursday was one of several that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has convened this year to tackle disability issues.
Witnesses told the panel about troubles gaining access to everything from airplanes to taxis simply because they rely on wheelchairs.
Marca Bristo, who heads the Chicago advocacy group Access Living, told the committee how she hit her head when her wheelchair was insufficiently tied down in a cab. And David Capozzi, executive director of the U.S. Access Board, said he brings a highlighted copy of airline regulations with him when he flies to prove his rights to the flight crew.
“What other minority group has to carry regulations with them?” Capozzi said.
While no specific legislation is pending, Harkin said he plans to have his staff look into rule changes that could improve access to transportation for people with various disabilities.