New York City is a beacon of freedom – unless you have a physical disability. If you need special accommodations, traveling in NYC is not only stressful, it’s nearly impossible.
Only 20 percent of NY subways are accessible, those that are deemed “key stations” which have the necessary elevators to take riders with a physical disability to the city streets above. Access-A-Ride, the paratransit service created to fill in the gaps where subway and public bus has failed, requires 24-hour advance notice and has been known to show up several hours late or not show up at all. Public busses, though equipped with a ramp, only run during certain hours and on certain routes. The disability community longed to be able to use the taxi service for the reasons so many other New Yorkers also use it: it’s convenient, it allows for spontaneous trips, and it can take you anywhere you need in the city.
In 2014, the Taxis for All organization sued the city of New York to mandate 100 percent of taxis in New York be made accessible. It wasn’t a revolutionary idea: in fact, every taxi in London has been wheelchair accessible since 1989. The result of the lawsuit was a settlement to make 50 percent of taxis accessible by 2020.
The film Access Denied, sponsored by BraunAbility, takes a look at what accessible transportation looks like in New York through the eyes of lawyers, advocates, filmmakers, and taxi drivers – and how far it has yet to go.
A special thanks to Reid Davenport, our co-producer on this project. Also, thanks to United Spinal for your support and wealth of knowledge in the taxi industry. And thank you to everyone who offered up your time and energy to be interviewed for this film. Your personal perspectives were integral to the film’s completion and we only wish we had more time to include even more people.
Court cases continue over the issue of accessible taxi transportation and showing your support could make the difference between institutional change and continuing to let inequalities and injustice remain commonplace and accepted in New York City. Share on social media with the hashtags #AccessDenied and #BraunAbility to amplify the discussion and show your support for civil rights and equal access to transportation to join the conversation.
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