Thursday, October 6, 2011

No room to spare

Did you know that TransLink offers all people a chance to test out whether their wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device will fit on board a bus?

Before my first time on board a bus in my wheelchair, I had never tested it out. I am fortunate to have a relatively compact and sleek wheelchair that can squeeze through many small spaces, but not everyone has one. If you are in doubt about whether your mobility device can get on the bus, it might be a good idea to take advantage of TransLink's offer to test it out on a not-in-service bus first.

Otherwise, something like this could happen:

(Photos from Oran Viriyincy at Flickr, taken near Seattle, WA)

Does not fit
Does not fit: Because of the people sitting on the right side, this man in a wheelchair can not go around the stanchion to use the passive restraint (his first choice). He ended up using the traditional straps.

Still does not fit
Still does not fit: the lady in the wheelchair can not go around the stanchion to use the passive restraint because there isn't enough room to maneuver around it. She, with assistance, boarded through the middle door to get to the passive restraint position.

Two wheelchairs on the B Line
Two wheelchairs on the B Line: One passive restraint (boarded through middle door with assistance, no ramp), One forward facing position (through front door ramp).

Whew! That took a long time. Speaking as a wheelchair user, I hate delaying other people's commutes and my own for something as simple as getting on or off a bus.

TransLink's buses are pretty good when it comes to accessibility, but one bus that makes the above situation unlikely is the Nova Buses (the ones with the double doors at the front). Those buses get a lot of grief from able-bodied riders but in terms of accessibility, they are wonderful – wider front entrance, front wheel moved back (making it less of an obstruction), plenty of space to maneuver in the front and so on.

However, that doesn't mean that anyone can manage those buses on the first try. If you have any concerns or doubts about getting on or off with a mobility device, take advantage of TransLink and Coast Mountain Bus Company's offer and test it out at their depot. More information is found here (look for "Travel Training").

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