Author Topic: Can Uber and Lyft Become Wheelchair Accessible?  (Read 121 times)


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Can Uber and Lyft Become Wheelchair Accessible?
« on: August 31, 2018, 12:24:21 PM »
In early August, the New York City council voted to forbid Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing companies from adding any more cars to their fleets for the next 12 months. New York is the first American city to enact such a cap, though other cities are considering similar actions. The action took place amid the specter of six suicides by taxi drivers over the last six months and general concerns about traffic congestion in the city. Lawmakers sought to check the unregulated growth of the services and study just how many vehicles were actually required to provide appropriate transportation options during the pause.
This dissatisfying status quo is what makes the accessibility exception in New York's recent ruling so potentially significant. According to James Weisman, chief executive officer of United Spinal Association, he and other disability advocates in New York have been pushing the mayor's office to include the exception in hopes that Uber and its competitors will invest in accessibility as a means of continuing to grow. Weisman says that Uber is now in a position to invest in "low cost accessible vehicles" that are "factory built [with] mechanical ramps." Right now, he says, vehicles are generally turned accessible as an aftermarket adjustment, which makes them much more expensive. It doesn't have to be that way. He points to Karsan, a Turkish manufacturer that in 2011 won the "New York City Taxi of Tomorrow" competition for its affordable vehicle, built to be accessible in the factor, as a potential model.
So far, there's no evidence that the ride-sharing companies will take advantage of the accessibility exception. Uber and Lyft have, to this point, spent most of their time complaining about the cap. In statements, spokespeople for both companies allege that the caps will make it harder for New Yorkers to get a ride. Via email, a Lyft spokesperson tells me that it is already planning on adding 100 more accessible vehicles by the end of the year, and is pleased that the new cap didn't preclude that addition. Uber did not respond to requests for comment.