Monthly Archives: February 2012

Taxi Stand Coming to Downtown

City officials are looking to establish a reliable transportation option for patrons of the city’s nightclubs. Winfield Davis, the deputy director of public space for New Haven’s Town Green Special Services District — the independent special taxing district authorized by the city and the state — announced Tuesday that the city is planning to set up a taxi stand on Crown Street between College and Temple streets from 10 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday. Davis said he hopes to announce the exact location and operating times in the next several days, after he receives the approval he needs from city officials. Though some hailed the initiative as a savvy economic move for taxis and downtown businesses and a solution to nightlife security issues, others expressed doubt that the stand will have a significant effect on downtown taxi patterns. “We think it’s a great idea from our perspective,” New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said. “Any way to get people who might be intoxicated out of their own cars and safely to their destination is a great benefit to all.”
Davis offered two main rationales for the taxi stand. It will ease the chronic traffic congestion downtown at night, he said, as most cabs circle around the district, often blocking entire lanes or double-parking on Crown Street. Knowing they have access to a taxi stand would encourage people to make smart decisions about whether or not they should drive to bars or clubs, he said.

Inside the MV-1

At first glance the new MV-1 from the Vehicle Production Group looks like something designed and built by committee in the former Soviet Union. Nearly as large as a minivan and basically a box on wheels, its determinedly utilitarian lines possess the quirky, ugly-duckling charm of a London cab. Which makes sense for a vehicle that was originally previewed in 2007 as the Standard Taxi. That initial design was squared off and clunky, kind of like a giant Lego car. But the Standard wasn’t designed to win any beauty contests. It was purpose-built to be the best taxi possible. Wide doors, a low step, flat floor and a deployable wheelchair ramp made it easy to get in and out of and — to VPG’s credit — universally accessible. Rugged construction and reliable running gear made it dependable. A large trunk provided for ample storage. And its roomy interior had enough space to seat a driver plus three adults (four with an optional jump seat) and a wheelchair rider — facing forward in the shotgun position — next to the driver. As a C6 quad who has suffered the inconveniences, delays, and expense of getting around at most travel destinations, the thought of fleets of wheelchair accessible taxis roaming the streets of America makes me want to shout hallelujah. Just imagine being able to hail a taxi, any taxi, and get in — like everybody else.

State’s Oldest Taxi Firm Converting to Compressed Natural Gas Again

BLOOMFIELD — Driving a taxi powered by compressed natural gas not only cuts fuel consumption but for at least one driver, it may reduce aspirin intake. When Marco Henry, owner of The Yellow Cab Co. in Bloomfield, recently began replacing the company’s entire fleet of gasoline-powered taxis with new CNG-powered vehicles, a longtime driver told Henry the switch had eliminated his need to pop four or five aspirins a day. “He thought it was because he wasn’t breathing carbon monoxide fumes all day,” said Henry, who bought Yellow Cab, the state’s oldest taxicab company, in 1991 after selling the Springfield, Mass. cab company he had owned and operated since 1981.
Driving a compressed natural gas taxi may or may or may not reduce driver headaches (we’ll leave that one to researchers) but according to experts, CNG vehicles emit 30 percent to 40 percent less greenhouse gases. While their upfront costs are higher — they are usually priced at 25 to 30 percent higher than similar gas-powered vehicles, they are, in the long run, cheaper to operate.

Yellow Cab Cake! Taxi for All Advocates Celebrate

“Accessible taxi’s is happening, it’s happening in Washington D.C., it’s happening in Chicago, it’s happening Philadelphia and it’s happening because we’ve done it in New York,” said a contented James Weisman, his words accompanied by warm applause.
Mr. Weisman, senior counsel to the United Spinal Association, was speaking at a party for those involved in the Taxis For All campaign on Friday. The reason for the celebration was the Disability Rights Advocates landmark judicial victory against the city in December, when they successfully argued that any future New York taxicab that was not wheelchair accessible violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The same way we made the buses accessible and the whole country followed, the same thing is going to happen here with the taxis.” Mr. Weisman said, speaking in front of a yellow cake that had a model taxi with a ramp as decoration, the word ‘Congratulations’ was poured across in icing. “It’s going to be as profound a change as the buses, I’m sure,” he said, alluding to the ripple effect that occurred after the adoption of accessible buses in New York.

New Metro Taxi Technologies Drive Connecticut’s Green Job Growth: State’s Largest Taxi Cab Company Launches the ‘Metro Taxi Veteran Heroes for Hire Program’

Metro Taxi, Connecticut’s first taxicab company to own and operate wheelchair-accessible taxis powered by U.S.-produced Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), reports a 50 percent increase in driver applications for last quarter, an unprecedented spike in applications in the company’s 24-year history. To respond to rapid growth, the company is launching the “Metro Taxi Veteran Heroes for Hire Program” and is collaborating with numerous community organizations, including the VA Connecticut Healthcare System’s West Haven Campus and The City of Bridgeport’s new Veterans Support Center, a co-location for veterans’ federal, state and local services. “We are doing our utmost to decrease unemployment for those who heroically served our country by launching the ‘Metro Taxi Veteran Heroes for Hire Program,'” said Bill Scalzi, president and CEO of Metro Taxi in West Haven. “With the application surge in driver positions for our taxi and executive livery service, we’re seeing a greater diversity in work experience too.

A Chance to See Disabilities as Assets

MANY people know of Berkeley, Calif., as the birthplace, in the 1960’s, of the Free Speech Movement. Fewer people know that Berkeley also played a major role in the disability rights movement. It was here, also in the ’60s, that Ed Roberts — a student with quadriplegia — became an outspoken advocate of the cause. I became aware of this after being invited to give a lecture for the Disabled Students’ Program at the University of California. I was delighted and, of course, flattered, but I was also nervous.
Sure, I’d given workshops and lectures hundreds of times, but this would be my first time speaking to an audience made up entirely of people with disabilities. To be perfectly honest, I’d always felt uncomfortable around disabled people. Suppose I said the wrong thing? Came off as insensitive? I needed guidance, so I turned to Paul Hippolitus, the director of the program. Reluctantly, I acknowledged my discomfort. Paul had spent 30 years at the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the federal Labor Department before coming to the university, and he had heard it all before. “Perfectly normal,” he told me. “In this culture, nearly everyone is uncomfortable with disability.”