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In a decision the city “hailed” as a victory, a federal court recently ruled to allow a controversial taxi reform plan to roll on.

The ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay after a December decision found the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s (TLC) fleet discriminated against people with disabilities, forcing the city to put its outer borough taxi plan on hold.

Advocates for the disabled filed a complaint in January 2011 saying that the new plan was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The complaint against the TLC stated that, “pervasive and ongoing discrimination” against “residents of and visitors to New York City with mobility disabilities who need and want to use New York City medallion taxis.”

Judge George B. Daniels ordered a “comprehensive plan to provide meaningful access to taxicab service for disabled wheelchair bound passengers” and until the plan was approved by the court all new taxi medallions sold or new street-hail livery licenses or permits issued by the TLC must be for wheelchair accessible vehicles.

This decision was stayed on Thursday, March 22, pending an appeal which is set to begin on April 19.

“The stay allows us to continue our work to bring quality taxi service to the four boroughs outside of Manhattan and northern Manhattan, and to persons with disabilities,” said TLC Commissioner David Yassky. “The administration is making historic progress in these areas, and we look forward to building on it.”

The lower court’s order would have prevented implementation of a plan that authorizes the sale of 2,000 medallions for wheelchair accessible taxicabs and establishes a street hail program for liveries in the outer boroughs, 20 percent of which would be wheelchair accessible, the TLC said. The city worked closely with the state to pass new legislation establishing these programs, and is developing a comprehensive plan to provide access to taxicabs for people who use wheelchairs, the agency added.

“We are pleased that the court issued a stay, thus allowing the city to move forward with plans to put more wheelchair accessible taxicabs on the road,” said Michael A. Cardozo, Corporation Counsel.

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