Advocacy Issue Details

United Spinal supports local and federal policies that create affordable, accessible, and safe transportation options for all. Access to transportation is vital for employment, contributing to one’s civic and religious community, supporting one’s family and maintaining an active social life.

Taxi and transportation network company (ie, Uber & Lyft) service is provided in large and small cities around the country. Taxis can provide convenient transportation at short notice for many Americans. Wheelchair accessible taxi service can be found in Chicago, San Francisco, and soon, Manhattan. 100% of London’s taxis are accessible. Montgomery County is developing a plan to achieve a 100% accessible taxi fleet. In too many cities accessible taxi and Uber service is limited or nonexistent.

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2012, only 33% of working age people with disabilities living in the community were employed.[2] Nearly 30% of people with disabilities who live in the community live in poverty.[3]

United Spinal has been a partner in the successful New York City Taxis for All campaign for many years. Taxis for All advocated for an accessible taxi fleet that would allow people with disabilities to hail a cab from any NYC street. United Spinal is advocating for 100% accessible taxi, as well as accessible Uber & Lyft, service in Washington, DC. United Spinal will continue to advocate for access to all modes of transportation as a civil right.

[1] CDC Promoting the Health of People with Disabilities, department of Health and Human services, at

[2] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, American FactFinder, Table B18120;; referenced by the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.

[3] Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, American FactFinder, Table B18130;; referenced by the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium.

1/8/16 Uber, Lyft submit accessibility reports with no plans to increase availability of accessible transportation, DC Council introduces accessibility bill. United Spinal calls on D.C. government to hold Uber, and Lyft to a high standard, require accessible service in WAMU News report. Read about it

1/4/2016 United Spinal provides comments at a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Accessibility Advisory Committee meeting. United Spinal expresses concern, urges WMATA to require strict ADA compliance, wheelchair accessibility provision in all partnerships, and with entities such as Uber who might seek to provide paratransit service. Read the comments

12/12/2015 United Spinal releases press statement, denounces Uber’s Washington, D.C. TAXI ‘WHEELCHAIR’ option that enables riders to request a wheelchair accessible taxi on-demand as “inadequate and unsustainable,” urges Uber to increase accessible options. United Spinal’s response included in coverage by Washington Business Journal, Huffington Post, and WAMU

12/11/2015 United Spinal participates in protest at Uber Headquarters calling for accessibility.

12/9/2015 United Spinal asks Time magazine to remove Kalanick from consideration for its Person Of The Year issue, arguing that Uber’s policies discriminate against disabled riders.

12/1/2015 United Spinal calls for transportation network companies to increase the number of accessible vehicles and options on the road in Huffington Post article – expresses serious concern regarding Uber provision of paratransit service without regulation requiring accessibility and ADA compliance.

11/18/2015 United Spinal provides at a DC Taxicab Commission meeting, thanks Commission for implementing Uber/Lyft anti-discrimination requirements, advocates for additional accessible taxis. Read the comments.

11/15/2015 United Spinal releases new commercial calling for Uber to provide wheelchair accessible service in New York city.

10/5/2015 United Spinal calls on DC area policymakers to require Uber and competitors to provide accessible service; highlights nationwide efforts and challenges. Includes call to address Uber and competitor equity concerns related to provision of adequate wages and benefits.

9/30/2015 United Spinal, as Chair of the DC Taxi Commission Accessibility Advisory Committee, submits the 2015 Annual Report on Accessible Vehicle for Hire Service. The committee recommends Uber and competitors to provide accessible service, regulatory changes and incentives to ensure increased accessible taxi and Uber service, and a public awareness campaign of accessible options available. The report compares select jurisdiction’s accessible service around the country.

9/28/2015 United Spinal calls on NY state lawmakers as lawmakers’ to establish mandate requiring all Uber vehicles to be wheelchair accessible.

9/9/2015 United Spinal testifies at DC Taxi Commission (DCTC) public meeting; calls for the Commission to take immediate steps to ensure no potential riders face discrimination. United Spinal thanks DCTC for: providing accessible taxi grants, implementation of Uber and competitor ant-discrimination rules; and supports awarding of accessible taxi permits.

8/17/2015 United Spinal, local advocates, call on DC Council members and national policymakers to require Uber and competitors to provide accessible service; ensure transportation is a civil right hat is not denied. Local NPR radio story highlights lack of accessible service in the District; Uber’s insistence that it does not need to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

8/14/2015 United Spinal calls on Uber and competitors to ensure increased accessible transportation service in NYC. Wired article highlights United Spinal advocates’ work, calls out Uber’s lack of accessible vehicles, Uber service leading to decrease in accessible taxis in NYC.

7/30/2015 United Spinal’s CEO, James Weisman, calls for e-hail giant’s Uber and competitors to make their cars wheelchair-accessible. New York Dauily news article details history of NYC Taxis for All campaign, wins and losses suffered as result of Uber service; calls for Governor and Uber to ensure accessible service available to all.

7/27/2015 On eve of Americans with Disabilities Act anniversary, Huffington Post blog highlights United spinal’s work to increase accessible taxi and Uber vehicles.

7/24/2015 United Spinal’s work to support increased accessible taxis in Montgomery County highlighted. Washington Post article details passage of bills requiring plan to achieve 100% accessible fleet in ten years, an accessibility surcharge on Uber and competitors; and the release of 50 accessible taxi permits to a new co-op.

7/20/2015 United Spinal submits letter to Montgomery County City Council in support of Bill 53-14. The bill would lead to the release of 100 new wheelchair accessible vehicle permits, with preference given to a driver-owned fleet with a stated commitment to serving the disability community.

7/19/2015 United Spinal calls on Uber to provide wheelchair-accessible service, vehicles in NYC. TV ads and mailings highlight Uber’s fight against a bill that would study the expansion of Uber and competitors.

7/14/2015 United Spinal testifies before Montgomery County, MD City Council. United Spinal supported passage of Bill 330-15 and the creation of a Transportation Services Improvement Fund. The fund assesses a surcharge on inaccessible service provider Uber and competitors. Funds would go towards increasing accessible demand responsive service in the County.

7/13/2015 United Spinal submits letter to Philadelphia Parking Authority in full support of Proposed Regulation #126-11. The regulation would have required all medallion taxicabs placed into service after a designated date to be wheelchair accessible.

7/8/2015 United Spinal testifies at DC Taxi Commission public meeting, thanks DCTC for enforcing 6% accessible fleet mandate. United Spinal calls for: accessible permits for independent drivers; creation of a fund to support purchase of accessible vehicles for companies and independent operators; publishing of a list of companies providing accessible service; and training for all drivers to ensure quality service.

7/2/2015 United Spinal calls for enforcement of accessible taxi requirement as deadline looms in local NPR radio story.

5/04/2015 The National Council on Disability releases a new report, Transportation Update: Where We’ve Gone and What We’ve Learned. The report marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and updates its 2005 report, The Current State of Transportation with Disabilities in the United States. The report lifts up United Spinal’s efforts to increase access to taxis and transportation network companies like Uber.

4/24/2015 United Spinal testifies at DC Council DC Taxi Commission Budget Oversight Hearing. United Spinal calls for funding for: training for all drivers; enforcement of accessibility requirements; the establishment of a dedicated accessibility fund; and a public awareness campaign to ensure the success of accessible taxi service in the District.

4/17/2015 U.S. Magistrate Judge rejects Uber’s Motion to Dismiss discrimination lawsuit brought by National Federation of the Blind and additional plaintiffs.

3/04/2015 United Spinal testifies at DC Taxi Commission performance oversight hearing, calls for: immediate compliance with increased accessibility requirements; programs to support compliance for drivers and companies; a public awareness campaign to highlight increased accessibility; TNC accountability for providing accessible service.

2/17/2015 New York Daily News editorial calls on Uber to increase wheelchair accessible service. New York City Uber Chief calls providing greater access to wheelchair users “a moral imperative.” United Spinal agrees.

2/16/2015 United Spinal, local advocates, call on DC Taxi Commission, Council to ensure accessible taxi requirements are met; calls for accessible Uber, Lyft, Sidecar vehicles and service.

02/13/2015 United spinal Association calls for immediate enforcement of long overdue DC Taxicab Commission regulations implementing an increase in accessible taxis required in the DC Taxicab Service Improvement Amendment Act of 2012. Learn more

2/2/2015 United Spinal testifies at DC Taxi Commission special meeting; speaks out against the repeal of rules that could lead to hundreds of new accessible taxis in the District.

1/27/2015 United Spinal speaks out, calls for Uber wheelchair accessible service in New York Daily News article.

1/13/2015 United Spinal’s EVP & General Counsel Jim Weisman testifies at NYC Council hearing. Calls for increased accessible taxis. Highlights Uber’s discrimination against people with disabilities. Calls on Council to hold Uber accountable, require wheelchair accessible service.

11/25/2014 United Spinal reacts to news that DC accessible transportation bill has been put on hold. United Spinal calls on Uber to be part of solution, ensure equal access to accessible transportation in Washington, DC in second local public radio story. Will continue to call for a strong accessible taxi and TNC bill in the nation’s capital.

11/19/14 United Spinal recognized by Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA)’s Accessibility Committee for its work in Washington, DC to ensure accessible taxis and TNCs in the District. Carol Tyson honored with the Dr. Rosalyn Simon Award.

11/18/14 United Spinal calls for equal access to taxis and TNCs like Uber in Washington, DC in local public radio story. Calls for support of B20-889.

10/28/2014 Washington, DC City Council passes Vehicle For-Hire Innovation Amendment Act of 2014. The bill includes accessibility and anti-discrimination provisions. TNCs must establish a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities or any of the other 18 classes protected by DC’s Human Rights Act, including imposing additional charges. Drivers: must stow mobility equipment if possible; accept service animals; may not refuse service based on location; or rate a passenger based on a protected characteristic . TNC’s must train drivers to safely handle equipment and provide courteous service. By January 1, 2016, TNCs must ensure accessibility of websites, and mobile applications, and must provide a report to the DC Council on how it intends to increase wheelchair-accessible taxi or TNC service in the District.

9/30/14 United Spinal testifies before the Washington, DC Council’s Transportation and Environment, and Finance committee in support of B20-889, the For-Hire Vehicle Accessibility Amendment Act of 2014. The bill would create a tax credit for drivers purchasing an accessible vehicle, and increase the percentage of accessible taxis to more than 5 percent from .3 percent, among other things. United Spinal continues to advocate for a 100 percent accessible fleet.

9/22/2014 DC Taxi Commission Accessibility Advisory submits First Annual Report on the status of accessible for-hire vehicle (taxi and Transportation Network Company) service in the District. The report calls for significant increase in accessible service, training, an end to discrimination, and programs that would support drivers and companies transitioning to accessible vehicles.

6/18/2014 United Spinal Association called for wheelchair accessibility of the entire fleet in the Nation’s capital. United spinal recognized the efforts if the DC taxi commission and WMATA to create CAPS-DC, a program providing taxi service to paratransit eligible riders going to dialysis appointments. Their program will hopefully result in 150 additional accessible taxis by 2016. United spinal also called on transportation network companies (TNCs) to provide accessible service and pay into a District accessibility fund.

6/04/2014 United Spinal testifies before the Washington, DC Council’s Transportation and Environment committee regarding B20-759, the Transportation Reorganization Act of 2014. The bill would dissolve the taxi commission and create a new transit authority to work in conjunction with the DC Department of Transportation which already oversees public rights-of-way, streetcars, bikeshare and circulator buses. United Spinal advocated for an accessibility advisory council and prioritization of accessibility in any District transportation authority.

5/12/14: United Spinal testifies before the Washington, DC City Council’s Transportation and Environment committee on B20-753, the Transportation Network Services Innovation Act. United Spinal requested that transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, be subject to the same, or better, accessibility requirements as taxis. The bill would also allow taxi companies that provide app, telephone and web reservations to charge a non-meter rate.

4/30/2014: New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission voted unanimously for a 50 percent accessible taxi increase by 2020 in The Big Apple. Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed to add a 30-cent surcharge to all cab rides to help with the transition to a larger accessible fleet.

4/22/2014: United Spinal presents on ‘Taxis for All’ on the National Disability Leadership Network Organizers Forum. The Forum allows disability advocates and organizers from around the country to share and learn from each other. United Spinal offers a Taxis for All Summary & Resources handout.

3/11/2014: United spinal SVP General Counsel Jim Weisman and Board Member Ronnie Raymond, attend MV-1 production launch event. MV-1 is a universally accessible, purpose built vehicle that can be used as a taxi.

2/19/2014: Toronto City Council votes to transform their taxi fleet to a 100% accessible fleet by 2020. SCI Ontario celebrates after advocating for all people with disabilities.

2/19/2014: United Spinal testifies at the DCTC Oversight Committee hearing, recommending the disability advisory committee receive additional support and the district continue efforts to reach a 100% accessible taxi fleet.

2/14/2014: The DC Taxi Commission Disability Advisory Committee submits its report, recommending a 100% accessible taxi fleet in the District.

12/6/2013: A historic settlement agreement was announced between the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), United Spinal Association, and other disability organizations that would make 50 percent of yellow taxis in Manhattan wheelchair accessible. Please find the memorandum of understanding and implementation agreement here.

4/18/2013:City Council hearing on Proposed Int. No. 433-A, a bill that would require all new taxis in NY to be accessible. Bloomberg’s Administration continues to oppose accessible taxis. The law will be voted on within 30 days of the hearing.

4/2013: The Southern District Court of NY District Court allowed disability advocates to include in their case against the TLC a complaint citing that the Nissan NV200 is a van and, as such, violates the ADA which requires new vans to be wheelchair accessible.

1/2013: The DC Disability Taxicab Advisory Committee is established to advise the DC Taxi Commission on how to make taxicab service in the District more accessible to people with disabilities. Members or representatives of the disability advocacy community comprise half the committee. United Spinal participates and serves as the Secretary, then Vice-Chair.

12/19/12: Easter Seals Project ACTION webinar on accessible taxis highlights accessible taxi service in NY’s outer boroughs, San Francisco, and first purpose built accessible taxi, MV-1.

8/2012: The NY State Supreme Court overturned the HAIL Act, stating that the city had violated the home-rule provisions of the State Constitution because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had initially taken the issue to the City Council and was blocked. There were three separate lawsuits, all filed by the taxi industry. The industry argued that the law violated the rights of taxi drivers who owned medallions and paid for the right to pick up street hails, that the 2,000 new medallions would create unnecessary competition, and that livery drivers deserved added security measures before picking up street hails, among other things. The Taxicab Association lawsuit stated that the wheelchair accessibility issue could be addressed without state involvement. The vast majority of the arguments against the state law did not revolve around wheelchair accessible taxis.

7/10/2012: The DC City Council passes the DC Taxicab Service Improvement Amendment Act of 2012. The law mandates a taxi commission disability advisory committee to draft a report on increasing accessible taxi service. The law also requires larger taxi fleets to include a limited number of accessible taxis in their fleets.

2/2012: Governor Cuomo signed A8691A-2011, otherwise known as the HAIL Act (Hail Accessible Inter-borough License), into law. The legislation would have issued 18,000 hail licenses for NYC’s five boroughs. These new licenses would have gone to livery cabs (non-metered car services). The law required that 20 percent of the new licenses go towards wheelchair accessible vehicles. In addition, the law allowed for the sale of 2,000 new wheelchair accessible taxi medallions. This would have raised $1 billion for the city.

5/2011: The TLC announced a contract with for the Nissan NV200 as the city’s official Taxi of Tomorrow. The mini-van would replace the city’s 13,000 taxis and would be phased in over 5 years, Taxi of Tomorrow.

12/23/2011: The Southern District Court of New York court stated that meaningful access to taxis was required. The TLC appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Second Court sided with the TLC and sent the case back to the Southern District which has allowed disability advocates to include in their case a complaint citing that the City’s proposed choice for its ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’––the Nissan NV200––is a van and, as such, violates the ADA which requires new vans to be wheelchair accessible.

12/20/2011: United Spinal goes to Albany, NY and wins the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who forced Mayor Michael Bloomberg (as outspoken an opponent of accessible taxis as Mayor Ed Koch was of accessible mass transit 30 years before) to agree to a state statute requiring 2,000 new accessible taxis in Manhattan and at least 3,600 accessible taxis in the other four boroughs (a taxi owner’s group recently sued and obtained an injunction preventing this law from being applied).

11/17/2011: Iowa Senator Tom Harkin who chairs the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on Capitol Hill regarding the state of accessible transportation in the US. Harkin showed support for United Spinal’s advocacy efforts to make New York City’s taxi fleet fully accessible and criticized Mayor Bloomberg’s stance on the issue.

10/2011: The Justice Department (US DOJ) files a statement of interest in support of people with disabilities stating every taxi should be accessible.

1/2011: United Spinal, along with other disability groups filed a class action lawsuit, Noel, et al. v. Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), against the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) arguing that the TLC is covered by Title 2 of the ADA and as such must provide meaningful access to NYC’s taxi system. The suit is significant, in part, because the TLC is on the verge of selecting a new model for New York’s entire fleet of taxis. The taxi fleet will start to be replaced with the new model during the next two years. The Justice Department (US DOJ) filed a statement of interest in the case in support of people with disabilities stating every taxi should be accessible.