SVP & General Counsel
United Spinal Association
My friend, Carr Massi, has been a disability advocate since long before the first wheelchair accessible bus rolled into New York City. She is a seasoned, mature New Yorker who has used a wheelchair in Manhattan for decades. Carr’s story about her recent ordeal demonstrates the need for taxis to be accessible better than lawyers and legislators could ever articulate.
In late July, Carr, an accessible bus user in a manual chair, got to a bus stop on 9th Avenue on the West Side of Manhattan at about 12:45am, after a night of socializing. A bus did come by with a sign that said “Not in service.” Another bus came by, also not in service. A third bus came by; it was obviously in service, bit it skipped the bus stop.
New Yorkers who can walk would hail one of dozens of yellow cabs passing her. Carr attempted to spot a wheelchair accessible taxi going by. After all, 231 out of 13,000 yellow taxis are accessible and maybe she could spot one and stop one, but she could not. The next bus was not expected to arrive until 5:30 am.
Carr could not push the 25 or so blocks to her home. She was desperate. She called several car services; none had accessible vehicles. She called 911 and was told to call 311. 311 gave her the police precinct number. The police said they were not a taxi service, but would call her an ambulance to take her to a hospital if she desired. She turned them down but eventually, in desperation, Carr decided to try to go to Roosevelt Hospital’s emergency room and spend the rest of the night waiting there. A man asked her if she needed help pushing and she accepted the help, only to realize he was a drunk.
Carr felt helpless and vulnerable. She told me, “No one cared about my safety and the situation I was in even though I explained it to everyone I spoke to.”
Carr went back to the bus stop and caught the bus at 5:45 am and was in her apartment at 6:10 am.
Neither Taxi & Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, nor Mayor Bloomberg or City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who don’t think the Taxi of Tomorrow needs to be accessible, were aware of her ordeal, nor would they have had any trouble if they could not get home by bus. The Taxi of Tomorrow, just like the taxi of today, will serve them even if it is inaccessible.