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Philadelphia Taxi Drivers Don't Want To Be Saddled With Cost of Wheelchair Access

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- At its public hearing today on its proposal to require the city's taxicabs to be wheelchair accessible, the Philadelphia Parking Authority received some pushback from the taxi industry.

The Parking Authority wants to require 300 of the city's 1,600 taxicabs to be made wheelchair accessible this year, and all of them by 2016.

But many of the city's taxi drivers say the owners of the taxi medallions would make them pay the cost of the $15,000 retrofits -- or for the $40,000 to purchase a brand-new, wheelchair-accessible taxi.

Mohammed Chughtai says drivers believe the disabled community should have better access but don't think they, the drivers, should take the hit.

"They're going to pass it along to the driver, which is going to cost them $600 to $700 a week just to lease.  I don't know how the driver's are going to survive, to pay their bills," he told KYW Newsradio today.

But state representative Nick Miccarelli thinks he has a better idea.  Rather than creating wheelchair accessible cabs from the existing fleet, he plans to introduce legislation to expand the number of medallions in Philadelphia, making every new one handicapped-compliant.

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