Disabled people sitting in wheelchairs waiting to get on to the public bus

Many people who rely on a wheelchair also rely on public transportation to get around. To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), public transportation systems need to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and their assisted devices, such as motorized wheelchairs. There are some guidelines that those who use a motorized wheelchair should be aware of to avoid having issues on public transportation.


The wheelchair must be used to assist the passenger’s mobility when taking it on a bus. There must be three or more wheels, and the wheelchair can either be battery or manually operated. Dimensions of power wheelchairs can’t exceed 48 inches high and 30 inches wide. There is a limit on the size, so the wheelchair doesn’t block the aisles and interfere with the safety of other passengers.


The total weight of the wheelchair shouldn’t exceed 600 pounds, but generally, the transportation operator will need to accommodate the passenger if the lift on the bus can accommodate them. Since some wheelchairs do weigh more than 600 pounds, the bus operator is not required to transport the device and the passenger. For example, if the maximum load the lift can handle is 800 pounds, the transportation operator still must transport the passenger if they and the wheelchair do not exceed 800 pounds. Lifts must accommodate both outboard and inboard facing electric wheelchairs. A lift that specifies that a user must face a certain direction is not compliant with the ADA regulations.

Securing Wheelchairs

To securely travel on buses while using a motorized wheelchair, the chair should be turned off when transported on the lift. If the power is not turned off, the chair could move and fall off the lift. Wheel locks should be used if the power wheelchair has them. Once the lift is level with the bus floor, the power can be turned back on, and the gears re-engaged for the wheelchair to move. Once parked on the bus, the power to the wheelchair should be turned off again for safety purposes.

There are different rules and regulations for different transit authorities, so it’s important to consult with your local transit authority to ensure that your motorized wheelchair meets the requirements. This will allow you to travel safely on your local buses. Traveling with a physical disability can be difficult. That is why public transit personnel must assist passengers with disabilities and treat them with sensitivity.

Here at Northwest Bus Sales, we offer new and used buses that are equipped to handle the transportation of wheelchairs. Whether you’re a shuttle service, school bus company, or public transit, we have buses to provide comfort and meet the needs of your clientele.

Give us a call today at (800)231-7099 to request information about the buses we have in stock!