Comptroller John Liu is asking Mayor Bloomberg to modify its contract with Nissan in an effort to make the city’s “Taxi of Tomorrow” 100 percent accessible to those using wheelchairs.
The Nissan NV200 will be phased in as the city’s only taxi model between 2013 and 2018, but at present the $29,000 vehicle does not come handicapped-equipped in the standard package.
Owners can opt to have their Nissans converted at an additional cost. At present about 230 of more than 13,200 taxis in the city are wheelchair accessible.
“Almost everyone agrees that the current status quo of 1.7 percent of the fleet ... is shameful,” Liu said in testimony delivered to the TLC last Thursday. “As the city looks to the future, accessibility to cabs will not be a luxury. It will be a necessity.”
He said there are 60,000 wheelchair users in the city.
Liu said London became 100 percent accessible in 1989.
“New York City ought to be a leader, not a follower, on this important civil rights issue,” Liu said in his statement. “If London can do it, so can we.”
Liu also said that a fully-accessible taxi fleet would be less costly to the city than its existing Access-A-Ride paratransit system.
The standard taxi will be built in a Nissan plant in Mexico. Owners wishing to have theirs handicapped-accessible under the current contract would have to have the vehicle sent to a second manufacturer in Indiana for installation of the necessary systems.
In a statement issued by his office, TLC Commissioner and Chairman David Yassky reiterated that owners have the option of making their vehicle accessible.
“Thanks to the ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ project, taxi owners will, for the first time ever, be able to purchase a wheelchair-accessible taxi vehicle that is manufactured and fully supported by a major automaker,” Yassky said.