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Group Demands Wheelchair-Accessible Taxicabs In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Advocates for the disabled are filing a federal lawsuit to force the Philadelphia Parking Authority to provide accessible taxis to people who use wheelchairs.

They held a demonstration today to drive home the point, on the 21st anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Of the 1,600 medallion taxis on the road in Philadelphia, none is equipped with a ramp or lift to make it accessible to wheelchair users, says Nancy Salandra of the group Disabled in Action.

She says Philadelphia holds a dubious distinction: “Out of the ten largest cities in the country, we’re the only one with not one accessible taxicab.”

German Parodi, one of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, contends the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which regulates taxis, is discriminating against wheelchair-bound people like him.

“It infringes on my independence to live freely, to visit friends, and make appointments. It’s something that we need to fix today,” he told KYW Newsradio.

Former governor Rendell vetoed state legislation in 2006 that would have added 50 wheelchair-accessible taxicabs in Philadelphia, due to unrelated issues attached to the bill.

Last year, a similar bill died in a state House committee because it was tied to a measure that would give taxi drivers access to workers’ compensation.

Parking Authority executive director Vince Fenerty, who is named in the lawsuit, says he is 100-percent in favor of accessible-taxi legislation but notes it would require state legislation to expand the number of medallion taxis in the city.

In the meantime, Fenerty says, one taxi fleet owner is now proposing converting 35 of his taxis for wheelchair access.  Fenerty says the Parking Authority is reviewing that proposal.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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  • Stephanie Patterson

    City of Brotherly Love? NOT! The comments posted show nothing more than hate and total lack of compassion. ParaTransit? Please – what a joke! First, even people who NEED it are denied access by Septa. If you do get on the list and make a reservationi, you will be at least 1-2 hours late arriving for a doctor’s appointment and will then have to wait at least 1-2 hours afterwards – and the “service” is NOT free! I have arthritis, and with the narrow door opening in the back and the front seat moved so far back, there times when I”d rather wait 45 minutes for a bus than go through the pain and embarrassment of trying to bend my knees to maneuver into passenger-hostile taxis. To those of you who are against accessible cabs, put yourselves into a wheelchair for one day and try to get around town. Bet you give up within an hour!

    • DocG

      Ms. Patterson,

      I was severly burned while in military service, I suffer from 3/4 of my body being covered in scar tissue. I have mobility issues too ! I do not consider myself to be disabled. I work, take public transportation and volunteer my time with wounded veterans. Think of those less fortunate than our selves,we can still funtion enough to live and enjoy life.

  • JayDee

    How about you use the paratransit service and stop whining.

  • Olive Garden

    Handicapped? Definitely in the wallet that is….they are the worst tippers!

  • bottomline

    Needless to say, the needs of those in wheel chairs goes far beyond taxi’s with ramps – maybe too far.
    It appears, it would be less expensive and smarter to get rid of the wheel chairs altogether and make the doctors, grocers etc. go directly to the homes of the handicapped.
    I don’t want to seem unsympathetic, but what’s next? Wheel chair accessible pony rides in the park? Wheel chairs equipped with air conditioning and armor to protect them from the brotherly love brothers?
    Our country and private businesses spend countless millions accommodating the handicapped but it seems each obstacle we overcome just leads to a new obstacle for us to deal with. When the handicapped were first given wheel chairs that was a liberating blessing. But that was short lived, now they could travel. Hotels were forced to accept wheel chair bound guests. At first that was fine, ramps were provided. Then, after a while, they complained about the toilet facilities, the hotels were forced to lower the plumbing height, now they have two sets of plumbing, one for handicapped and one for non-handicapped people, and the demands keeps going on. This put some of the older, smaller hotels out of business and certainly increases the cost of renting a room for – everybody.
    We all have our own crosses to bare too, but we do it stoically. Somebody should tell those in the non-profit advocate business to get a job, AKA my free self help program – Calluses for Cash. God doesn’t play favorites.

  • DocG

    Who is going to pay for this service ?. We pay for most of the handicapped in this counrty anyway.Stay at home and don’t add to your bill !

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