The state Legislature is in the midst of formulating and approving new insurance laws to allow transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to operate statewide. While I fully support new and innovative transportation methods being made available to all New Yorkers, I’m concerned about the legislation (A.6090A /S.4280A) being proposed by Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, and Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta.
The bill does little to ensure the transportation network companies provide accessible alternatives for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities who use power wheelchairs. The bill only requires that providers be able to store folding manual chairs in their vehicles, leaving the level and scope of accessibility and accommodations to the discretion of the network companies. Such discretion has led to lawsuits across the nation, including cases involving drivers declining to take individuals in wheelchairs or refusing others who are blind because they have service dogs.
No legislation should allow a company to operate within a given jurisdiction without proper legal checks and public assurances, and I believe it to be reasonable that, as a condition of transportation network companies being granted statewide operation, they be held to a certain level of operating standards for the population they will be serving.
Why allow an insurance bill to go forward and separately consider accessibility? The two issues should be tied and contingent upon one another — insurance for accessibility, accessibility for insurance.
If not now, when?