Stokes et al. v. Total Transit, Inc. (d/b/a Discount Cab)
Disability Rights Advocates, in partnership with the Arizona Center for Disability Law, filed this suit in November 2015, alleging that Total Transit Inc., doing business as Discount Cab, violates federal and state law by charging wheelchair users in Arizona a $10.00 fee per trip in addition to their regular fare because they require accessible taxis. The lawsuit alleges that Discount Cab’s policy discriminates against persons with mobility disabilities who require accessible taxis and violates both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Arizonans with Disabilities Act.
The suit is brought by three individual plaintiffs who use wheelchairs because of mobility disabilities, and who need a lift or a ramp to board a taxi. Plaintiffs have used Discount Cab or sought to use Discount Cab but were charged or deterred by an additional $10 charge for the taxi trip.
Discount Cab is one of the largest taxi companies in the United States. In Arizona, it operates a fleet of more than 1,100 taxis, of which 132 are wheelchair accessible. Total Transit Inc. is a comprehensive “mobility management” company which provides fixed route transit and paratransit in addition to retail taxi service. Total Transit has operations throughout Arizona and in several other states, including Colorado and Utah.
Bill Stokes, one of the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said, “We are not looking for preferential treatment from Discount Cab. 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.”
“Discount Cab told me that the $10.00 charge was because I needed an accessible van,” said Plaintiff Jennifer Longdon. “But a person who needs an accessible taxi does not have the choice to ride in a different type of vehicle. I believe the surcharge violates the ADA and needs to be corrected. We tried to address this through dialog, but Discount was not open to education on the ADA.”
Plaintiff Donna Powers agreed. “For me, this case is about equality. I should have the same opportunity to use Discount Cab’s services as someone without a disability. There shouldn’t be additional fees or obstacles in the way,” she said.
Mary-Lee Smith, Co-Director of Litigation at Disability Rights Advocates, said, “Transportation can be a real challenge for people with mobility disabilities, who often don’t have access to their own vehicle and who frequently can’t depend on paratransit because it is unreliable. Accessible taxis facilitate societal integration for persons with disabilities, and Discount Cab’s $10 charge undermines this potential.”