Get it together yellow taxis
Christina Greer PH.D. | 2/23/2017, 11:04 a.m.
I recently read that yellow cab drivers are trying to put pressure on the mayor, City Council and New Yorkers to assist them in their hyper-expensive medallion woes. Because of the rise of Uber, Lyft, Juno and other car services in NYC, yellow cab drivers are understandably worried about their livelihoods and the future of their industry. I have sympathy for these hard-working individuals and their fears about their future economic prospects. However, the reports of yellow cab drivers threatening to decrease accessible ride options for disabled New Yorkers as a bargaining and negotiating tactic are completely unacceptable.
The Committee for Taxi Safety represents 20 percent of New York’s yellow-taxi medallion agents. This committee has threatened to take wheelchair-accessible cabs off the road. This threat is a blatant extortion tactic, and the people who will be most affected and harmed by this decision are individuals who rely on handicapped-accessible taxis to give them freedom and mobility throughout the city. There must be another way to come to the table and negotiate without using vulnerable New Yorkers as pawns in a fiscal dispute.
Trying to expand rights for disabled New Yorkers has been recognized as a necessity by the federal courts. The courts decided that there must be a requirement that half of all yellow cabs be wheelchair-accessible by 2020. If the taxi committee follows through on the threat of removing accessible taxis from the streets, they will be in direct conflict with a federal court mandate. We cannot allow that to happen. Whether or not we know someone who relies on a wheelchair, we must fight on behalf of our New Yorkers who need taxis for transportation.
Mayor de Blasio has stated that he is not going to compromise or succumb to the extortion tactics of the yellow taxi industry. For this stand he should be applauded. It is also our responsibility to make sure the mayor and our elected officials stay true to this promise. We must become a unified front for our fellow New Yorkers with limited mobility and add transportation equity as a priority for all of us. As we move beyond the yellow taxi fights, we must also continue to put pressure on the mayor and our elected officials to fight to make sure that public transport fares reflect the diverse economic circumstances of all New Yorkers. Accessible transportation is a right of all members of our city, documented or not, wealthy or not, in all reaches of the five boroughs.
Yellow cabs no longer have a monopoly and taxi drivers are suffering. We can hopefully figure out creative ways to assist yellow cab drivers without using wheelchair bound New Yorkers as pawns in this complicated process.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream” and the host of The Aftermath on Ozy.com. You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.