The Bloomberg administration must now present an extensive report to the judge that describes a plan for expanding the availability of wheelchair-accessible taxis, which make up less than 2 percent of the city’s fleet of 13,000 yellow cabs.
The requirement, issued by Judge George B. Daniels of United States District Court in Manhattan, is similar to the mandate placed on the city in a bill signed this week by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who, in approving a plan to legalize street hails of livery cabs, asked for a plan for more taxis to be accessible.
The city had been planning to start selling permits in the spring for a new class of livery cabs, which can be hailed on the street in northern Manhattan and the other four boroughs.
But now, under the ruling, until the judge approves the report, the city will be able to issue permits only for livery cabs that are wheelchair accessible.
Separately, because of the bill, the city will be prohibited from auctioning more than 400 new yellow cab medallions — a significant source of revenue that is already included in next year’s budget — until the State Transportation Department, which is overseen by Mr. Cuomo, approves its accessibility plan. The city has been planning an auction of 2,000 medallions, all of which will require their owners to drive wheelchair-accessible cabs, over the next three years.
Judge Daniels’s ruling is a victory for advocates for disabled people, who filed the lawsuit and have long criticized the lack of wheelchair access in the city’s cabs. Accessible taxis, which can be more expensive to buy and maintain than regular taxis, are rarely bought by taxi owners, and wheelchair users can often be forced to wait for extended periods before an accessible cab passes.
“Meaningful access for the disabled to public transportation services is not a utopian goal or political promise,” the judge wrote. “It is a basic civil right.”
In a statement, the city said that it was disappointed by the ruling and that its lawyers might seek a stay on the decision until they could appeal. The city also noted that it had pledged that 20 percent of the new livery cabs would be wheelchair-accessible.
The advocates’ lawsuit, filed this year, was supported by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, which dispatched its own lawyers for oral arguments in front of Judge Daniels.