Philadelphia taxi operators soon could be forced to offer more vehicles that can accommodate wheelchairs.
New Philadelphia Parking Authority draft regulations require 300 cabs be wheelchair-accessible by the end of the year, said Vince Fenerty, who heads the authority. All 1,600 cabs in the city must be able to handle wheelchairs by 2016, he said.
“We will conduct a lottery of the 1,600 medallion cabs by placing a piece of paper or cardboard in a hat, per se, and pick 300 of the 1,600 out,” Fenerty said Friday. “They have to become wheelchair-accessible vehicles by the end of this year.”
The goal is good, but the lottery process is unfair to new cab drivers, said Ronald Blount, president of the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania.
“The Parking Authority is not looking at how this is going to impact brand-new taxi medallion owners, compared to those who are already established,” Blount said.
Blount said new taxi operators have to pay about $400,000 for a medallion, and adding $40,000 to that for a used accessible cab would be a heavy burden.
Right now, there are only three cabs in Philadelphia that can carry a passenger in a wheelchair.