For-Hire Vehicles and Passengers with Disabilities: Event Recap


On September 17, 2019, Jelena Kovačević, Dean of NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, gave opening remarks at the “For-Hire Vehicles and Passengers with Disabilities” panel discussion. Sarah Kaufman, Associate Director of the Rudin Center, then moderated the discussion between 4 experts:

  • Meera Joshi, NYU Rudin Center Visiting Scholar and Former Chair, NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission
  • Rachel D. Pardoe, Program Officer, Healthy Lives: Older Adults, People with Disabilities, and Animal Welfare, The New York Community Trust
  • Chris Pangilinan, Head of Global Policy, Public Transportation, Uber
  • Rebecca C. Serbin, Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates

Crowded room with four panelists seated at the front. The moderator sits beside them.


The panelists focused on the current state of for-hire vehicles for passengers with disabilities. Rebecca Serbin pointed out that individuals with disabilities make up the largest minority group in NYC, yet their concerns for issues that affect their daily lives, such as transportation, are often overlooked by policymakers and the population at large.

The panelists focused on the regulatory frameworks necessary to ensure more access to accessible vehicles, the need for public private partnerships, and the continued demand for improvements in transportation options for the disabled in NYC and around the world. Meera Joshi highlighted the need for car companies to improve their models so that accessible, affordable, gas efficient vehicles become the norm, rather than the exception. Changes like this one could transform the transportation landscape for those with disabilities.

Each panelist offered advice for the future:

  1. Cities must regulate new companies and technology, such as app-based ride sharing companies, as they arrive, rather than retroactively attempting to place requirements upon them.
  2. In the transportation world, many are quick to find fault with infrastructure and services provided, but it’s important to also celebrate the small wins and to acknowledge that the systems are constantly being improved.
  3. Attendees were called to remember concerns about accessibility and equity in their personal lives, and to keep these factors in mind when making future judgments and decisions.
  4. Attendees were reminded to bring topics like accessibility for the disabled to the table when planning events or programs in their workplaces.  

This is the first of four events in a series highlighting underrepresented voices in transportation, hosted by the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management and C2SMART Transportation Research Center.




Highlights by Katherine Rivard.