Advocates for New Yorkers with disabilities have long battled with car services whose vehicles are not accessible. Now they are calling on the MTA to drop plans to do business with them. NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez has more.
Only a fifth of the MTA's 469 subway stations are accessible to people with disabilities.
And not even half of the city's 13,000 yellow taxis are wheelchair-accessible.
But for the disabled the e-hail service Uber is basically a nonstarter.
Of its 43,000 vehicles in the city — just 72 can accommodate riders in wheelchairs.
"It's very important that we push and bring out the fact that we need accessibility," said Edith Prentiss, accessibility advocate with Taxis for All. "We need accessibility in everyday life."
On Tuesday, advocates and elected officials criticized the MTA for studying whether to replace some Access-A-Ride paratransit service with for-hire car companies like Uber.
"We need MTA to say no to them," said James Weisman an advocate with the United Spinal Association. "'We'd love to do business with you, but we can't because you discriminate on the basis on disability.' That would be wonderful."
"We're calling today on the MTA to do the right thing since Uber apparently won't," said Joe Rappaport with the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled.
The idea of using Uber to take over some service now provided by Access-a-Ride buses and vans gained momentum after an NYU study said the change could save more than a hundred million dollars a year.
"There is no question that Access-A-Ride needs to be overhauled," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
An MTA spokesman said the agency last year began a pilot program incorporating e-hail services into the Access-A-Ride program.
An Uber spokeswoman confirmed it is exploring: "ways technology can give New Yorkers a more affordable and reliable ride."
The statement adds that the company also is looking at how to make its service more accessible to people with disabilities.