Transporting passengers using mobility devices

Posted on February 23, 2009

We asked university transportation operators what are their greatest challenges in transporting passengers who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices?

Passengers in a non-sterile state
From a transit standpoint, our biggest issue would be instances in securing wheelchairs or mobility devices in which the passenger is in a non-sterile state. We have had several instances that range from general cleanliness, including insects, up to dry and non-dry blood and the possibility of the transfer of blood-borne pathogens. 

Unable to find a definitive answer as to how to handle these instances, we have supplied the drivers with gloves and have informed them to do what they can to secure the passengers without endangering their own health.

Brian Otchis, Transit Operations Manager
Los Angeles

Wheelchairs that are too heavy
We use a private vendor for our inter-campus shuttles, and our more difficult challenges are the weight of the wheelchairs (at times the vendor will use a really nice touring bus and the ADA access can be a bit scary for the user).

Also, the heat in Arizona at times affects the mechanism, although I’m not sure why.  The one other thing is the time it takes to load a wheelchair, which then puts the bus a bit behind. That being said, the students do not complain or seem to have any problems with this.

Judi Nelson, Commuter Options Manager
Arizona State University
Tempe, Ariz.

Too many wheelchairs for one bus
The greatest challenge we probably face is when we have more wheelchair customers than a particular bus can handle. Our shuttles are ADA equipped, but most can only handle two wheelchairs at a time. Sometimes, since we don’t know who will be riding at any given time, we might have three or four.

Josh Cantor, Director, Parking and Transportation
George Mason University
Fairfax, Va.

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