Disney Bus Restraint System for Mobility Devices.

Groot

Still recovering from the events of Endgame.
Joined
Aug 24, 2018
Well, today, I was going to the Polynesian Hotel from Animal Kingdom when a scary thing happened to me on the bus. I was in my powerchair when the bus made a sudden sharp turn (I usually hold onto the back of the seats that are flipped up in the designated spot.) when I was nearly thrown from my device. Luckily, there was one of those jogging strollers that was nearby and I managed to grab ahold of it before my leg got crushed by my chair.

The driver stopped the bus as soon as he heard a commotion in the back and another passenger helped me get my device back to an upright position before the driver repositioned my chair in the designated area so that we could go to the hotel.

This got me thinking, Disney uses a 3-point restraint system to secure mobility devices, where most other bus companies/personal handicap-accessible vans use a 4-point system or a docking device. Why did they go with a 3-point system? To cut down the waiting time for the other people on the bus to get on after the wheelchair/scooter? Or is it something else?
 
  • maxiesmom

    The Mean Squinty Eye Works
    Joined
    Jul 6, 2004
    I thought you were not allowed to stay in your chair on the buses, to avoid what happened to you?
     

    Simba's Mom

    <font color=green>everything went to "H*** in a ha
    Joined
    Aug 26, 1999
    I thought you were not allowed to stay in your chair on the buses, to avoid what happened to you?
    I used to think that also. But on my last trip, some bus drivers recommended that I stay in my ECV. Frankly, I think they want one more seat available to people. I noticed that one time when I transferred to a bus seat (the bus driver had said "well, it's up to you as to whether or not you move) that lots of people standing were giving me dirty looks for not staying on my ECV and leaving the seat available to them. At least no one tried to sit on my ECV!
     

    lanejudy

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Oct 27, 2011
    There has never been a requirement that guests in powerchairs must transfer. There is a difference between ECV and powerchairs on the buses. Generally speaking, many people with a powerchair may not have ability to transfer to a seat on the bus. The chair is tied down and a seatbelt is available for the passenger. Powerchairs, and manual wheelchairs, have a lower center of gravity than a person sitting on an ECV, making the ECV less stable for a passenger even once tied down. For safety sake, those with an ECV should transfer to a seat, regardless of what the driver says. Unfortunately, many drivers seem to have buckled to too guests arguing, and allow the guest to choose rather than enforce safety protocol.

    OP - if you were in a wheelchair, i’m so sorry your device wasn’t tied down adequately. I’m glad you are on other than a scare!

    Enjoy your vacation!
     
  • Toffeewoffy

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 6, 2014
    This last trip I stayed in my ECV for most of the bus rides. There is a seatbelt they have you put on, and wearing that made it all much more stable (albeit there is a certain amount of jiggling back and forth the ECV will so in transit which can't be avoided). I was actually more comfortable in the ECV: the seat was wider and more comfortable (they always give me a 'captains' seat which has a higher back), and people tended not to try and lean themselves or their bags against the ECV, also giving me a bit more personal space.
     

    cobright

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 6, 2013
    One of the first ecv/power chair mods I developed was a method of securement that did not require strapping the chair down to the vehicle. I came up with a vacuum block with a silicone rubber seal attached to the bottom of the power chair.

    When active, the block is pushed down a few inches to contact the floor of the bus or subway, then a vacuum pump kicks on. The holding force is actually greater than that of the polyester straps used on the Disney buses, and it gets the same effect without requiring the bus operator do anything. The system works great, rock solid connection to the bus, like your ecv were welded to the floor; but... it seems it's not a tech anyone wants.

    Long story, short... transportation providers dont have any incentive to innovate when it comes to creating a better service for mobility challenged. Even at Disney, ecv and wheelchair riders make up 2%(ish) of their total.
     

    mamabunny

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 11, 2012
    One of the first ecv/power chair mods I developed was a method of securement that did not require strapping the chair down to the vehicle. I came up with a vacuum block with a silicone rubber seal attached to the bottom of the power chair.

    When active, the block is pushed down a few inches to contact the floor of the bus or subway, then a vacuum pump kicks on. The holding force is actually greater than that of the polyester straps used on the Disney buses, and it gets the same effect without requiring the bus operator do anything. The system works great, rock solid connection to the bus, like your ecv were welded to the floor; but... it seems it's not a tech anyone wants.

    Long story, short... transportation providers dont have any incentive to innovate when it comes to creating a better service for mobility challenged. Even at Disney, ecv and wheelchair riders make up 2%(ish) of their total.
    I don't think it's tech that no one wants... I think that in Disney's case (especially) they look at it from a liability standpoint: If the vacuum block fails for any reason (even something as simple as a bit of debris that prevents a good seal) and there is no tie down used, then the first question that the "victims" lawyers will ask in court is "Why didn't Disney Bus Driver John Q Public use the built-in restraints?"

    You, my friend, are often way ahead of the rest of us in your use of technology. :)
     

    SueM in MN

    combining the teacups with a roller coaster
    Moderator
    Joined
    Aug 23, 1999
    I don't think it's tech that no one wants... I think that in Disney's case (especially) they look at it from a liability standpoint: If the vacuum block fails for any reason (even something as simple as a bit of debris that prevents a good seal) and there is no tie down used, then the first question that the "victims" lawyers will ask in court is "Why didn't Disney Bus Driver John Q Public use the built-in restraints?"

    You, my friend, are often way ahead of the rest of us in your use of technology. :)
    It sounds like it also would rely on things like the floor being smooth, no debris or soil on the floor, etc.
    I agree it would also be a big liability.
     
  • cmwade77

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2005
    Honestly, I think the restraint system Disney uses on their buses is outdated compared to some I have seen on public transit. On some public transit that I have seen, someone in a wheelchair or ECV simply lifts the applicable seat(s) and rolls into place and the restraints automatically lock in place, when they ring for their stop, the bus driver presses a button and they release. The bus driver never even has to leave their seat to secure or release the devices.

    That being said, I would strongly advise against staying in an ECV or chair unless you have no other choice, I had one bus driver insist that I do so on this last trip and it felt very unsafe to me. I also know that the OP was very lucky, a friend of ours was traveling from the Toy Story lot at Disneyland in her ECV when it tipped over (due to being improperly restrained by the bus driver as the bus driver only put one of the three restraints on) and fractured her leg, which meant she was unable to go to the parks for several months. (BTW, Disney did agree to extend her pass for as long as she was unable to go, which seems to be the least they could do).
     

    Disneygal27

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 25, 2009
    OP I’m sorry you had to deal with that. Are you sure it was properly tied down? My dad uses a fairly large power chair full time, and on his first trip with it we didn’t realize that the driver had used a piston instead of the dedicated tie down, he almost got some air time. Since then we’re much more diligent, and he hasn’t had an issue (some of them drive like it’s a getaway car and it hurts but the chair is securely down, it’s just his disease)


    Also, why couldn’t they put a fourth tie down? Conversion vans have adjustable tie downs you can slide around, you could have them both out of the aisle and get it to the chair, we do this in our van so he can shimmy in and around. Seems like something they should look into for safety
     

    mamabunny

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 11, 2012
    OP I’m sorry you had to deal with that. Are you sure it was properly tied down? My dad uses a fairly large power chair full time, and on his first trip with it we didn’t realize that the driver had used a piston instead of the dedicated tie down, he almost got some air time. Since then we’re much more diligent, and he hasn’t had an issue (some of them drive like it’s a getaway car and it hurts but the chair is securely down, it’s just his disease)


    Also, why couldn’t they put a fourth tie down? Conversion vans have adjustable tie downs you can slide around, you could have them both out of the aisle and get it to the chair, we do this in our van so he can shimmy in and around. Seems like something they should look into for safety

    I think the reason there is no fourth tie down is because it would require either (1) reaching a strap over to the opposite side of the bus (a problem when it came time for everyone behind the mobility device to exit) and also because (2) if they relocated it to the floor, it becomes a liability that someone could trip over, drop something into, etc. The sheer number of people running around in flip-flops at WDW leads me to believe it wouldn't be long before someone jammed a toe into a floor deck mounted tie down, even if it was flush to the floor.

    The current system, while flawed, does (overall) perform fairly well. It's not perfect, no - but in a high-volume environment that requires the shortest possible turnarounds, it has proven to be safe for the majority of Guests and their devices, and that's probably why Disney has not yet (and may never) change it.
     

    cmwade77

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2005
    I think we will see Disney change the restraint systems eventually to be more modern as they can be done in a way that can get the ECVs on and off in an even more timely fashion. I also don't understand why the buses at Disney World aren't more like the modern public transit buses I have seen where a wheelchair or ECV enters from the front door, then exits through the back door (or vice versa), which eliminates the need to do as much maneuvering to get the devices on and off the bus. Yes, it requires there to be two ramps instead of one on each bus, but in this day and age that is trivial.
     

    Staren

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 24, 2017
    I think the issue there is that most of the Disney bus fleet is in that mid replacement cycle. They are not new, but not at end of usable life either. I'm sure as the current buses are due for replacement we will start seeing newer models with improved features come into service. Disney just isn't going to replace perfectly usable equipment that doesn't need to be replaced just because there is a better model available.
     

    UncleMike101

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 8, 2014
    I stayed in my ECV during bus rides while on my last WDW vacation and never felt insecure.
    If the bus had been forced to make a sudden stop I don't believe that I'd have been injured.
    The other passengers however, could easily have been thrown from their seats or forced to the floor if standing.
     

    Groot

    Still recovering from the events of Endgame.
    Joined
    Aug 24, 2018
    OP I’m sorry you had to deal with that. Are you sure it was properly tied down? My dad uses a fairly large power chair full time, and on his first trip with it we didn’t realize that the driver had used a piston instead of the dedicated tie down, he almost got some air time. Since then we’re much more diligent, and he hasn’t had an issue (some of them drive like it’s a getaway car and it hurts but the chair is securely down, it’s just his disease)


    Also, why couldn’t they put a fourth tie down? Conversion vans have adjustable tie downs you can slide around, you could have them both out of the aisle and get it to the chair, we do this in our van so he can shimmy in and around. Seems like something they should look into for safety
    Yeah, although I’ve seen some drivers refuse to attach the rear tie down straps either because 1.) they couldn’t reach them because of bags, baskets, holders, etc. on the back of the chair/scooter or 2. They were lazy and thought “since the person can’t turn around to make sure I attach the straps, I don’t really have to do it.”

    Disney’s buses use a 3 tie down system instead of the 4 tie down. Maybe the next flett they get will have this feature.
     

    mamabunny

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 11, 2012
    Yeah, although I’ve seen some drivers refuse to attach the rear tie down straps either because... ...They were lazy and thought “since the person can’t turn around to make sure I attach the straps, I don’t really have to do it.”
    Unless the Driver told you this personally, that's nothing more than speculation on your part.

    I have *never* seen a Disney bus driver not tie down any mobility device without using all 3 hooks+straps, and then tighten them to secure the device. I *have* seen drivers ask other Guests to move bags, backpacks or baskets that were preventing the safe securement of the device.
     

    Staren

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 24, 2017
    I have *never* seen a Disney bus driver not tie down any mobility device without using all 3 hooks+straps, and then tighten them to secure the device. I *have* seen drivers ask other Guests to move bags, backpacks or baskets that were preventing the safe securement of the device.
    This has been my experience as well. The only real issue I have had with drivers is them attaching the securements to problematic locations on the chair like the wheels, axel, or caster forks. That’s easily fixed though by watching what they are doing and pointing them to solid spots on the frame.
     


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