By CHRISTELL CHERENFANT
More wheelchair accessible vehicles on the road by early 2017 sounds like music to the ears of the physically disabled.
On Thursday, at the Taxi and Limousine Commission, many of the mobility impaired showed up to praise the agency’s goal to make 50 percent of yellow and green cabs wheelchair accessible
Such a measure would obviate the need for the disabled often to wait some 24 hours for an Access-A-Ride. There are already 1,100 wheelchair accessible taxis on the road in New York but those who need them say that this numbeer isn’t nearly enough compared to the 13,000 regular yellow and green taxi cabs.
Wheelchair accessible cabs are larger than normal cabs and have ramps that come out of the trunk, making it easy for the disabled person to get in. Drivers for these cabs have to go through a training process before they are allowed to drive one and are compensated for pick up and drop off.
“We need so many more of these cabs,” said Edith Prentiss, an asthma sufferer who has been in a wheelchair since 1991. With the number of wheelchair accessible cabs on the road now, it is next to impossible to get a trip in a timely fashion. “I don’t want to have to call [in advance], I want to be able to just put my arm up and get one,” Prentiss said.
The average wait time after a call is now just under 12 minutes, and the commission is trying to create an app for the purpose.
Stefan Henry, a mechanical engineering student at City College, who lives in Brooklyn, has been in a wheelchair for 13 years. “Travelling to school takes [me] two hours,” Henry said, and if he misses the Access-A-Ride, then he will be really late to class.
“Clients expect me to be on call and be fast, to move around different boroughs,” said Sergio Urias, a quadriplegic from Long Island City, an attorney for more than nine years.
Jason DaSilva, an independent filmmaker with multiple sclerosis, lives in Williamsburg, near an L train station this is not wheelchair accessible. In a video that DaSilva created, he said that it is very hard for him to get to his favorite coffee shop around 14th street in Manhattan though it is only three subway stops away. In the video, DaSilva conducted an experiment where he and his his able bodied friend travelled to the same coffee shop in Manhattan by using the by the normal route. It took DaSilva’s friend about 13 minutes by train and it took DaSilva an hour and 43 minutes by ferry and two buses.