Trials in Traveling With a Power Chair by Bus

a woman smiling
Curated by
Kristen Sachs
Content via Tuesday Talk with Alex
Tuesday Talk with Alex
Curated by
Kristen Sachs

Alex has traveled extensively via many modes of transport. His most recent travel adventure came in the form of a charter bus." I joined the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and youth group of St. Matthew Baptist Church as we traveled to Winterplace Ski Resort. It’s a trip we take almost every year," shares Alex. The bus Alex and his group were traveling on had a lift at the back designed to allow a wheelchair user to be lifted onto the bus and remain in his or her chair during the trip.

Unfortunately the circuit board on the lift wasn't working, so this meant Alex had to be hoisted onto the bus by manually cranking the lift. 

"It was quite an exhausting process to crank the lift to get me and my 200+ pound chair on the bus."

photo of a wheelchair lift on a charter bus

Then as the group stopped to have dinner before reaching their destination, the hand crank on the lift broke! "At least the lift could be lowered so that I wasn’t stranded on the platform," explains Alex. But now that he was off the bus, he had no way of getting back on. That's when everyone sprang into action. "While a group of people worked on the lift, another set of folks, including myself, called around for a wheelchair accessible taxi or vehicle to get me to the hotel," says Alex. Luckily, the local fire department had a wheelchair accessible van, and they were able to take Alex and his mom to their hotel. And a helpful mechanic who happened to be dining at the restaurant the group stopped at was able to step in and help repair the hand crank on the lift. 

Finally, everyone was able to reach their destination and enjoy some skiing. "Once we arrived, everything went smoothly," shares Alex. "Everyone enjoyed shredding on the slopes and had a good time!"

Through all his travels, Alex has learned that he has to be prepared just in case things don't go according to plan. Here's his tips:

  • It’s important to make sure the bus is in working order beforehand. Make sure you let the bus company know the type of power chair. In my case, the chair cannot be folded and I need it to sit comfortably.
  • Be sure to locate mobility van rental companies. They may be closed after hours and on weekends, but some places have an after-hours phone line where you can talk to someone.
  • Check to see if there are wheelchair taxis or a Paratransit system nearby. If all else fails, call the local fire squad to see what they have available. It worked in my case!

Have you experienced trials when traveling like Alex has? How did you resolve them? Share your experiences with AbleThrive so together we can help others who might find themselves in a sticky travel situation.

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