A promise from the Philadelphia Parking Authority to bring 150 handicapped-accessible taxicabs to the city has led advocates for people with disabilities to drop a lawsuit against the agency.
During a special board meeting held Thursday, the Authority approved regulations dedicating 150 taxicab medallions, set to be distributed over the next eight years, exclusively to wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs).
The approval came two weeks after the last board meeting where about a dozen advocates – many in wheelchairs – expressed their outrage over the regulation’s language, specifically one line that reads: “Only the first 15 authorized medallions are statutorily required to be wheelchair accessible vehicles.”
Even though that sentence remained, other adjustments -- including a separate order signed by U.S. District Judge Jones -- were made to clarify the authority’s commitment to WAV taxis.
“Each of the 150 taxicab medallions issued by the Authority… will be restricted to use through WAV vehicles," according to a decree the Judge signed Friday.
“That commitment in conjunction with other terms in [a separate order] signed by Federal Judge Jones … has both caused the lawsuit to be settled and secured the support of the disabled community for the Authority’s wheelchair taxicab regulations,” said Dennis Weldon, the PPA’s attorney.
The order also accounts for the possibility of even more medallions being auctioned off in the future, saying the PPA could issue up to 200 medallions for WAV taxis.
In response, Liberty Resources – a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of persons with disabilities – voiced their support of the ordinances in a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).
The IRRC will review the PPA’s rulemaking order on June 19, according to its meeting agenda.
The Authority intends to auction off the first 45 WAV medallions before the end of the year.