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Cabs are 'hail' on earth for disabled

AP - April 23, 2004 - Disabled New Yorkers called on the city yesterday to provide more wheelchair-accessible taxis than the five yellow cabs out of a fleet of 12,187 - now on the streets.

New Yorkers think of taxis a part of our basic transportation system, said Terence Moakley, of the United Spinal Association, who has been in a wheelchair for 36 years.

Moakley and half a dozen other wheelchair users staged a roll-in at the taxi stand in front of Penn Station to show that they couldn't get into any of the cabs there.

The city sold 174 taxi medallions last week in an auction that was part of a plan to expand the cab fleet by 900 in the next three years.

The disabled advocates, calling themselves the Taxis for All Campaign, are supporting a bill introduced in the City Council that would require a gradual conversion to accessible taxis as the current fleet wears out.

The sedans that make up most of the taxi fleet can't be made accessible, but minivans can be made with wheelchair ramps or retrofitted to add them.

The advocates said accessible taxis cost about $2,000 more than regulare ones.

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