Wheelchairs on a bus

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by mydisneyanytime, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. mydisneyanytime

    mydisneyanytime Mouseketeer

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    My son is in a wheelchair but is still mobile to a degree for short spurts. We are headed to Disney in two weeks. We have been there many times before. This time we are going with my mother who just had back fusion surgery (in April). She will be in a scooter.

    I know that bus transportation with 2 mobility devices will be harder. However, my question is really about my sons wheelchair.

    Several times on our last trip we were asked if we could fold up his wheelchair since he was not going to sit in it during the ride. The wheelchair does not break down easily (breaks down into foot rests, back, seat, etc.) and the pieces, when broken down, are cumbersome to carry and then put back together. It is a custom wheelchair made just for him.

    Is this standard practice? It seems like the more we go the more often we are asked to fold it. I know that busses get busy and they need to get as many people in as possible but it just seems like this is happening more and more.

    Since we are headed there in a few weeks I just wanted to know if this was becoming standard procedure or not. Thanks!
     
  2. BillSears

    BillSears DIS Veteran

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    Folding it as opposed to tying it down empty allows another ECV or wheelchair user who cannot get out of their chair to board. I always appreciate it when someone offers to fold their chair so I'm not left behind at the bus stop waiting for the next bus.

    I suspect your son's chair is a fixed frame and not a folding chair. If so just tell them it doesn't fold.
     
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  4. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    I agree with Bill. I would just tell them it doesn’t fold.
    The drivers don’t know by looking at it that it doesn’t fold. If they see him out of it, they would assume it folds and might ask you to fold it.

    If it can’t be folded, it will need to be fastened down. The issue will be if it is a ‘stroller style wheelchair’ without a transit option (i.e. no loops to attach tiedown hooks, like a regular Convaid Cruiser) it will not have places to attach the tiedowns. Those non-transport ready chairs are not safe to ride in on the bus, so he will need to sit on n a bus seat, as you planned.

    I’d suggest looking before you go for spots to attach the tiedown hooks. They should be sturdy part of the main frame, not places where it comes apart or is bolted on. Marking the spots with bright colored tape makes the bus process faster and easier -you can just tell the driver to ‘look for the xxxx color tape.’
     
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  5. mydisneyanytime

    mydisneyanytime Mouseketeer

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    It has places to tie it down and has been tied down on busses many many times. I just noticed on our last trip, especially, that I was asked several times to break it down. It is a real wheelchair (insurance) that is custom made for him and does not look like a stroller or another type of mobility device.
     
  6. Queen of the WDW Scene

    Queen of the WDW Scene DIS Veteran

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    All you have to do is explain it does not fold but rather you'd have to disassemble it.
    They will understand and not require you to do so.
    About the only suggestions I could give are... could you possibly purchase an inexpensive wheelchair for the trip that does fold? Or maybe rent a wheelchair or scooter in the park and then he could walk from bus to park and park to bus avoiding having a wheelchair on the bus?
    Or could he just sit in the wheelchair on the bus so that he would not be taking up a seat in addition to the wheelchair space.
     
  7. mydisneyanytime

    mydisneyanytime Mouseketeer

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    He can't walk long distances at all so renting one in the park isn't an option and the inexpensive ones aren't comfortable for him to use. He often sits on my lap in the bus so he doesn't take up another seat if it is crowded. I was just trying to see if them asking to fold up these type of wheelchairs was something new as it hadn't been asked of us in the past.
     
  8. Queen of the WDW Scene

    Queen of the WDW Scene DIS Veteran

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    My guess is that they ask in case it is one that is capable of being folded.
    I'm sure if you let them know its not foldable and would have to be DISASSEMBLED they would not make you do so.
    The quick explanation may seem inconvenient for you every time you get on a bus but at least you won't be trying to take it apart.
     
  9. Mrsjvb

    Mrsjvb DIS Veteran

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    more yes than no. he night as well just remain in it if it cannot fold.

    while technically true, the space where his chair is technically now wasted space and I can assure you as a WC user myself, I'd be a little torqued if I saw an empty chair taking up a slot where I could be, since I wouldn't know that it cannot be folded up, nor would I necessarily notice that he wasn't taking up an (additional) seat. you may mean no offense and it may be the best course of action for your family, but the perception by others could garner unpleasant looks or muttering. leaving you having to deal with the dirty looks or outright confrontation.
     
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  10. JoJoGirl

    JoJoGirl Mouseketeer

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    We just returned from WDW last night and used the buses almost every day. We had a great trip!

    My son walks short distances but requires constant supervision outside the house. For outings he uses a full-sized adult Convaid EZRider (very similar to the Cruiser). It is his familiar space and much more comfortable for him than a regular wheelchair, so that is what we take to Disney.

    It is not a transport chair, as he does not need one in everyday life, and this model works better for him. But unfortunately that makes it unsafe to sit in on the bus, as SueM described above.

    The chair does normally fold, but on a Disney day, that would require removing the unfoldable sun canopy and all his necessary day bags (meds, incontinence supplies, special drink and comfort toy, etc.), then folding the chair, then carrying everything onto the bus a couple of pieces at a time while my son either wanders around outside, or is sitting on the bus alone, with the possibility of wandering off. The chair is pretty heavy and unweildly when folded (48 inches long, 28 pounds, footplates flapping) and is quite difficult for me, a 53 year old woman, to handle in unpracticed situations. All this would be a real ordeal, and highly inadvisable, for me to do alone while trying to watch my son. Plus it would take over ten times as long (not exaggerating, two minutes vs. 10 seconds) and require just about as much room on the bus, while people have to step over and around all our stuff. Reverse the process to exit the bus, hoping we do not leave anything behind in our hurry. All this while an impatient crowd of people is waiting for us to finish up and get out of their way.

    If that sounds cumbersome and unpleasant to read about, imagine having to actually do it in person. Very stressful and exhausting! Also, our experience in years past is that other guests get much more annoyed and concerned by this, than when we just put the open chair on the bus with his stuff loaded on it. Ditto for the bus drivers. So we do not fold it at Disney. Hope this explanation eases some folks’ concerns about why they may see an unoccupied chair tied down on a Disney bus.

    This past week, only one driver in four days asked us if the chair folded, and I simply said that it was a major operation and would still require a ton of room (which was true). The driver did not question this, and just said “OK, no problem.” All the drivers were very helpful, and we never received any unpleasant guest pushback about the empty chair, either. A smile, a “please” and a “thank-you” go a long way!

    The only time it may have caused inconvenience was when another scooter pulled up *after* his chair was already tied down into the space opposite the door, and some other guests had boarded. At that point I doubt the scooter could have been loaded without rearranging everything and everyone. Technically it would have been possible, but the driver told her to wait for the next bus, right or wrong. Since your two mobility devices will be arriving at the same time, you should not have this problem.

    It sounds like you have a fun family trip planned. I hope your mother’s back is healing well and that you have a fantastic time!
     
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  11. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

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    @JoJoGirl -- I thought the EZRider is transport-ready? If not, please be aware that since your son's Convaid isn't transport-ready, the frame can be damaged by the bus tie-downs. While obviously safety of passengers is important, the reason most special needs strollers should be folded has nothing to do with whether a person sits in the stroller, it's more about whether the stroller is sturdy enough to tie-down. The frames of most special needs strollers are not made to withstand that amount of force. I don't know how old your son is or what his exact needs are, but you might look into other options - a wheelchair or other model of stroller that is designed for use on transport. The last thing you want to do is be pushing him through MK and at the back of the park the stroller collapses because the frame was damaged and you didn't know it.

    Enjoy your vacation!
     
  12. mydisneyanytime

    mydisneyanytime Mouseketeer

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    Thanks. That is just what we have experienced with trying to break it down, etc. I am glad to know that you had no real problem with it!! Thanks again!
     
  13. JoJoGirl

    JoJoGirl Mouseketeer

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    My son’s EZRider does not have the “transit” feature with the high back and special harness made to be safer for the rider in the event of a crash. The frame, however, does have a crash test rating of 170 lbs, and a regular use weight limit of 250 lbs. Since my son weighs close to the crash limit, and carries a number of bags on his chair, we just don’t want to take the risk. I considered the other transit add-ons when choosing the chair, but it was too long when folded to fit in our vehicle, and other than Disney, he has no need for a transport wheelchair.

    Edited for clarity and correctness
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
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