Who's behind the wheel? - Page 4

Taxi permits, which give the holder a nice income, are only for active drivers. So what happens when a permit holder gets disabled?

Welcome's medallion, which she leased out through Luxor Cabs, was scheduled to be revoked at the Taxicab Commission's June 26 meeting.

"Her medallion was her only means of support," Kathleen Young, Welcome's friend of 30 years, told us.

Rathbone feels many disabled medallion holders hide their disabilities for fear of the consequences, endangering themselves and the public.

One of the more severe recent taxi incidents happened March 26, 2003, when a 68-year-old permit holder crashed into a Market Street ATM, badly injuring a pedestrian and immobilizing two others.

"Too many people are driving when they shouldn't be," said Bettina Cohen, Rathbone's wife and editor of the MHA newsletter, which publicized the pending disability lawsuit on its front page last month.

Allowing disabled drivers to keep their permits may have its own downside: Carl Macmurdo, president of the MHA, acknowledged that the long waiting line for medallions means people will acquire them later in life and so will often be able to fully enjoy them for only a short time.

"[The city's] giving permits to 70-year-olds and then taking them back," Macmurdo, who waited 13 years to get his permit, said.

Myles shared similar sentiments. "Every permit holder, just like every person, runs the risk of disability," he told us. "This question [of the disabled holding on to their permits] affects not only every current permit holder but every driver who is waiting in line to get a permit in the future."<\!s>*

Also from this author

  • From fryers to fuel

    SFGreasecycle hits the restaurant circuit

  • Counseling torture

    Psychologists' association rejects ban on participating in coercive interrogation -- but voices concern over cruel tactics

  • Green City: The last hour

    The 11th Hour