Nissan and New York City are gearing up to make the Japanese automaker's NV200 van the Big Apple's only taxicab, but city comptroller John Liu says says he will block their plan because the cab isn't accesible for those in wheelchairs.
Liu says that the city's contract with Nissan violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, but New York's City Law Department is questioning whether the comptroller can actually prevent NV200s from hitting the road, reports Transportation Nation.
"The law limits the issues upon which the Comptroller may refuse to register a contract," said Kate O'Brien, a spokesperson for the City Law Department. "None of the matters raised, including ADA compliance, would constitute lawful grounds for refusing to do so."
Despite Liu's concerns, which he calls "not just a slap in the face," but "illegal," the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission says that wheelchair accessible versions of the NV200 will be on the city's roads.
"Nissan is providing a wheelchair accessible version of the Taxi of Tomorrow, the city will create an additional 2,000 wheelchair accessible medallion licenses and they're on the cusp of launching a demand responsive wheelchair accessible taxi dispatch system," spokesman Allan Fromberg said, after calling Liu's statements "mysterious and ill-informed."
After a high profile competition, New York selected the NV200 as the city's exclusive taxi for a decade beginning next year. Since the announcement, various groups representing New Yorkers in wheelchairs have protested the city's decision to select the NV200, although just 2 percent of the current New York taxi fleet is wheelchair accessible.
Last month, Leftlane witnessed a modest protest outside a media-only unveiling of the NV200 adjacent to the New York International Auto Show, although Nissan prominently displayed a video showing the van's wheelchair-accessible option.