Current transportation requirements for the handicapped are provided either by private operators as a business or by service clubs. However, problems experienced by people with disabilities are beginning to surface at various levels of government. Recent studies have revealed a clear need to integrate into public transit systems vehicles which can accommodate both handicapped and non-handicapped passengers.
Handicapped persons are largely unable to use existing public transportation systems because wheelchairs cannot be lifted on and off standard transit vehicles.
Even those with lesser disabilities, walking with the aid of canes or crutches, are hampered by high steps and other on-board obstacles.
Most vehicles now used to transport the handicapped share a number of common problems which include:
Before embarking on the project, UTDC designers held discussions with various operations for the handicapped, and with wheelchair mobile service operators. In addition, corporation planners made extensive use of existing studies dealing with the problems of handicapped persons.
Out of this research came the concept of a multi-purpose small bus which could accommodate regular transit passengers, yet still provide easy wheelchair boarding by means of a special lift mechanism.
In the prototype vehicle, interior design also allowed for seating of passengers with other types of disabilities such as hip and knee difficulties and stiff leg problems. For production models, interior arrangement is completely flexible so transit operators may tailor a bus for their own particular needs.
UTDC chose its own small bus to serve as the prototype vehicle on which to mount its unique lift. This particular model bus has seen extensive use in Ontario as a dial-a-bus vehicle. At its present stage of development, this bus is constructed on a Dodge chassis with a fibreglass body incorporating rigid foam insulation in a sandwich-type laminated structure. The bus is available with either gasoline or diesel power.
|Chrysler 440 cu. In V-8|
Chrysler Loadflite 3 spd. automatic
|Deutz 6 cylinder air-cooled|
Allison AT 540 4-spd. automatic
For the multi-purpose version, RekVee Industries Limited in Scarborough, Ontario, redesigned the door structure and body of the small bus to accommodate the lift mechanism.
In the prototype, interior arrangements for seating and holding devices for wheelchairs and passengers were installed by Funcraft Vehicles Limited, Cambridge, Ontario, in conjunction with the UTDC.
In this vehicle, ten fixed seats were installed for regular transit use. However, in one area of the bus, three seats fold up against the wall to provide accommodation for wheelchair passengers. In addition, a special swivel seat was installed so a passenger with a stiff leg can swing side-ways to prevent the leg from protruding into the aisle. For passengers with knee and hip problems, three higher-than-normal seats are provided in one area.
Vehicle interiors may be varied to suit individual needs with more or less of these special seats. Bus capacity depends on choice of seating options. It is possible, for example, to use the entire vehicle for wheelchair passengers if necessary.
The small bus, with its good manoeuvrability in residential areas, allows transit operators direct access to handicapped passengers at home or at work.
The bus' new lift has been designed to fit any small transit vehicle on a standard automotive-type chassis. With modifications, vehicles of many types can accommodate the device. These include small and large transit buses as well as inter-city buses.
Once the vehicle body has been mounted, the step/lift device is carefully fitted into place.
With the lift installed, step-well trim and transit doors will complete the prototype vehicle.
Urban Transportation Development Corporation