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NYC Agrees To Improve Taxi Access For Disabled

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City will adopt regulations requiring that half of the city's 13,000 yellow cabs be accessible to people with disabilities, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky.

Bloomberg and Yassky made the announcement Friday on Bloomberg's weekly WOR Radio show. Under the agreement, the changes are to be made within seven years. The city says it will settle a class-action lawsuit over the issue.

NYC Agrees To Improve Taxi Access For Disabled

The 2011 lawsuit alleged that the city was violating the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, claiming only about 200 of the city's 13,000 cabs could handle wheelchairs.

As WCBS 880's Ginny Kosola reported, disability rights advocates applauded the agreement that will phase in wheelchair accessible yellow medallion cabs so half of the fleet is accessible by 2020.

Upper West Sider Simi Linton was among those who sued the city.

"Empty cabs whiz past me, accessible cabs whiz pass me with non-disabled passengers," she told Kosola. "Being able to hail a taxi is paramount."

Yassky said the phase-in will start within two years.

"As existing vehicles retire, one out of every two new taxis to hit the streets will be wheelchair accessible," Yassky said.

"I'm proud that once again New York City is taking the lead on implementing progressive, ground-breaking measures," said TLC  Commissioner Frank Carone. "This agreement will become a benchmark for other cities, nationwide and worldwide, to provide the extra services some need to live and work in the city. I applaud the TLC and the Mayor's Office for their hard work on the settlement," Carone added.

Presently, New York City taxicabs participate in a dispatch program that allows individuals to request accessible taxis using the 311 service. Today¹s agreement stands to further wheelchair access to make New York's taxicab fleet the most accessible in the country.

Settlement documents are expected to be filed Friday in Manhattan federal court, according to The New York Times. The judge overseeing the case will eventually have to approve the agreement.

In September, the TLC unveiled a new dispatch system that allows people with wheelchairs to text, call, use a mobile app or go online to request a cab.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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