Uber, Lyft and Via Join Forces Against Wheelchair Regulations in NYC


(Brandon Bhangoo) #1

Its not an attack on disabled people, it's a defense against a lopsided regulation that stipulates 25% of all vehicles must be fit for wheelchair transportation.

This is what the petition is all about, where Uber, Lyft, and Via have gone to the Supreme Court in Manhattan asking that the TLC regulation is vacated and annulled. The regulation goes into effect in July, and it will require that all rideshare companies start off within 12 moths with 5% of all vehicles being viable for wheelchair access and this will grow incrementally to 25% by 2023. The idiotic rule about this regulation is that these cars will be available for normal rides too, irrelevant of the need for them or not.

The TLC's request is done in good faith with good intentions, but their percentages are a bit out of proportion when considering the absolute percentage of wheelchair users in the NYC population versus the number of actual users using rideshare as a mode of transportation.

The petition states that "Unfortunately, in an effort to placate one constituency, the TLC has imposed an arbitrary and capricious mandate that unreasonably burdens another. If implemented, the TLC's rule will not only fail to meet any stated or defined metric of success; it also will wreak irreparable economic damage on the entire FHV industry, from the largest app-based companies to the most vulnerable small base operators."

Not only rideshare companies have banded together, but also livery cabs, black cars, and limos have banded together, representing five trade groups including Livery Base Owners Association, the Livery Round Table, and the Black Car Fund.

Some of the advocates for disability including United Spinal Association and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest filed an amicus to the motion for a preliminary injunction. These groups are defending the TLC against all the motions, stating that the new regulations don't cover what is really needed.

The director of the disability justice program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Ruth Lowenkron told the press that "We're grateful the city is trying to push for accessibility, but it's not enough. We think they have their own obligation under the non-discrimination laws to ensure access under non-discrimination laws. And the FHVs absolutely have a requirement to make their vehicles accessible."

My take: New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Disability Data and Statistics shows us that only 19.5% of all of the NYC population has a recognized disability and this includes every kind, not only wheelchair usage. Just based on this fact alone, the maximum percentage of wheelchair access cars would be at the most 19.5%. However, let us take off the non-wheelchair disabilities, and we are left with around 7.5% of the total population needing a wheelchair but not necessarily using one. So, in the worst-case scenario, you would need a maximum of 7.5% if all of the wheelchair users in NYC decided to us a rideshare car at the same time.

If the advocates for equality want true equality, they should demand around 3% of any fleet being wheelchair accessible, however, how do you do that with rideshare companies? They don't own fleets; they just mediate between drivers and passengers. This is another issue to contend with.

Bottom line, the supreme court will have to decide what percentage of cars need be on the streets and which companies can be included in this rule. After all, if a driver is an independent contractor, then he is a company by himself and as such, must have 25% of his vehicle wheelchair accessible at any given timeā€¦got it? No, think harder, and you might understand.


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