Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today announced that legislation he sponsored to provide transportation options to taxi passengers with disabilities has passed both houses of the New York State Legislature. The legislation would offer tax credits of up to $10,000 for taxicab and livery companies that make improvements to provide accessible transportation.
This would enable the companies to modify their existing vehicles without having to absorb the additional cost or having to pass this cost on to its customers. Senator Flanagan pushed for the measure to increase the number of private transportation options for use by persons with disabilities.
"Utilizing a taxi should be a right that is available to everyone and this legislation will allow companies to offer needed services," stated Senator Flanagan. "The state has a duty to step in, just as it has on a variety of issues regarding access, to ensure that equal opportunity and equal access is available to all. This will provide better access to transportation for everyone without placing the financial burden on the small business cab owners of Long Island."
The tax credit would be equal to the cost of altering a vehicle up to a maximum of $10,000 per vehicle. If the amount of the credit were to exceed a taxpayer's tax burden for one year, the credit could be carried over and deducted from the ensuing year's tax liability until the credit is fulfilled.
For a company to satisfy the requirements of this legislation, any remodeling of a vehicle must be done in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
Suffolk Independent Living Organization Executive Director Edward J. Ahern said, "SILO applauds the efforts of Senator Flanagan to make taxis and liveries fully accessible to people with disabilities. The passage of this legislation will indeed provide more options of travel to greater numbers of people throughout the state."
Cliff Hymowitz, Director of Long Island Concerned Citizens for Public Transportation, added, "I believe Senator Flanagan's legislation will have great significance here on Long Island and throughout the state. I also feel that it will set a precedent for the entire nation to follow and demonstrate that providing incentives is the best approach for addressing this issue."
"The members of United Spinal Association and the Taxis For All Campaign in New York City express our sincerest thanks to Senator Flanagan for sponsoring this tax credit to encourage wheelchair-accessible taxicabs throughout our state," remarked United Spinal's Terence Moakley, chair of Taxis For All. "This bill could help to get as many as 600 accessible cabs and black cars on the road in New York over the next three years. We urge the transportation companies involved to use this new tax credit to improve the mobility of all New Yorkers with disabilities."
"This legislation is a home run. When I owned my taxi company and made the decision to fit some of the fleet with accessible vehicles, I thought that it was a way to offer a service for those who need it and the right thing to do. Senator Flanagan's vision will offer that opportunity to all fleet owners and this legislation is a brilliant idea," stated Robert McBride, transportation consultant for Park Strategies and the former owner of the largest taxi service on Long Island.
According to Senate research, Senator Flanagan's legislation appears to be the first of its kind in the nation.
Earlier this year, Senator Flanagan was able to have $5 million in funding placed in this year's legislative budget for disabled access to polling places. The funding will be dedicated to making necessary improvements to polling places throughout the state. This would include widening existing doorways, adding ramps, improving parking access and spaces and other features that will provide voters with disabilities access to the polls.
The tax credit legislation will be sent to Governor George Pataki for action and would be retroactive to the beginning of the year. It would remain in effect through the end of 2008.
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