A new audit by the city comptroller shows that the Taxi & Limousine Commission failed to collect nearly $6 million in surcharges aimed at making more cabs wheelchair-accessible.
Of the 19,000 taxi cabs in New York City, only 13 percent are accessible to the disabled, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer. Anyone who rides in a cab pays a 30-cent surcharge to help the city make the cabs more accessible, but the TLC hasn't collected $5.7 million of those surcharges.
"When you don't collect the money, you are discriminating against people who need that lifeline, that ride, that opportunity," said Stringer.
Stringer says that by leaving money on the table, the TLC is making it hard to meet their own goal to make 50 percent of New York's taxi fleet accessible by 2020.
The TLC disputes that and says it is on pace to meet its goal.
A TLC spokesman added it has a "more than adequate" reserve to keep the program going, and that since medallion taxi cabs -- including wheelchair accesible cabs -- are "brought into service in a highly scheduled manner," the unpaid funds "would not have prevented even a single wheelchair accessible vehicle from being put on the road."
The spokesman, Allan Fromberg, said, "At the program's outset, we were very thoughtful about how to begin enforcement, especially at a time when the industry is facing a number of challenges."
TLC tells the I-Team it collects 92 percent of the surcharge money and it is actively pursuing unpaid funds. There are now over 2,600 wheelchair accessible cabs in the city, and the TLC is continuing to offer incentives to medallion owners to convert their cabs to be wheelchair accessible.