Lawsuit challenges taxi company’s wheelchair fee

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man in wheelchair uses van ramp

No surcharge for accessible taxi transportation

The Arizona Center for Disability Law and Disability Rights Advocates filed a class-action lawsuit against an Arizona-based taxi company, accusing it of discriminating against people who use wheelchairs.

Discount Cab operates 1,100 taxi vehicles in the state, making it one of the largest private taxi companies in the southwest. Of these vehicles, 132 of them are wheelchair accessible vans.

Starting in September 2013, Discount Cab has charged an additional $10 fee for people using the vans.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleges that the fee runs afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Arizonans with Disabilities Act.

“The importance of accessible taxi service should not be underestimated,” the lawsuit states. “In passing the ADA, Congress recognized the isolating effects of disability and the need to promote societal integration and sought to eradicate discrimination in several critical areas, including transportation.

“Indeed, transportation is a linchpin to societal integration, providing access to jobs, to health care, business, and other appointments, and to places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, movies, theaters, museums, service establishments, and parks. Accessible taxis are one aspect of that transportation, often more reliable and flexible than paratransit, a good alternative to owning one’s own vehicle, and a replacement for public transportation that has its own access issues.”

The lawsuit requests that the Court issue an injunction over the company, ordering it to cease charging the fee, create a new written policy, provide training and allow independent reviews to ensure the policy is implemented.

“We are not looking for preferential treatment from Discount Cab,” said Bill Stokes, one of the lawsuits three named plaintiffs, in a news release. “We are just looking for the same taxi ride, for the same price, as everyone else. It’s prejudicial for Discount Cab to charge us this extra fee because of our wheelchairs.”

The Arizona Disability Law Center, and Disability Rights Washington, the publisher of Rooted in Rights, are the designated protection and advocacy agencies in Arizona and Washington, respectively, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.