Uber target of protests by cabbies, disability rights advocates

Yellow and green cab drivers rallied at City Hall on Tuesday with disability rights advocates to call for legislation that would make Uber wheelchair-accessible.

The app company has a service in New York City that connects passengers with wheelchair-accessible yellow and green cabs, but its black cars are not accessible.

Advocacy groups like the United Spinal Association and Taxis for All have been calling for Uber to have wheelchair-accessible black cars, and hope the City Council and Mayor wil back them.

“Nobody would put up with Uber if it was refusing rides to African-Americans, or gay New Yorkers,” said Edith Prentiss, who chairs the Taxis for All Campaign. “They shouldn’t put up with discriminating against us either.”

Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxiworkers Alliance, which represents thousands of cabbies and Uber drivers, hailed the accessibility of the yellow and green cab industries.

“This is a long-term battle for us, and we stand here united with the disability justice community,” Desai said.

The app company said ir does almost 4,000 wheelchair-accessible trips monthly through the app by connecting riders with yellow and green cabs, and that foldable wheelchairs can be stowed in their black cars.

“Uber has helped expand transportation options for New Yorkers with disabilities,” said a statement from the company. “Before Uber, these riders were too often left stranded waiting for one of the small number of accessible cabs to pull up. We are actively exploring new ways to build on this progress and better serve all people with disabilities.”

A study on apps like Uber released last week showed that slower speeds in the city have been driven by population growth and construction, and haven’t been spurred by the rise in the black car industry.

The City Council is calling for greater regulation of car service app companies in New York City.