If extra room is needed or there are more than one wheelchair user passenger then a wheelchair accessible minibus is most likley the answer. Naturally they are a larger vehicle and therefore has the adequate room needed accomadate more passengers, whether they remain seated in their own wheelchair or transfer to the ordinary minibus seats.
Although most wheelchair access minbuses are used commercially there is an increasing number of individuals opting for this larger type of WAV as the extra room is of benefit. They are also becoming less 'van like' and nicer vehicles to drive in general which is increasing there popularity as a wheelchair accessible vehicle. For example the Renault Master and new model Ford Transit are nice looking vehicles and less like driving a large van.
Why opt for an accessible minibus?:
Why opt for a WAV?...
A wheelchair accessible minibus or WAV, as they are commonly called, makes transport enjoyable, comfortable and safe for wheelchair users. A vehicle where the wheelchair user is the driver offers the most independence and this is possible with a minibus conversion. However, if this is the right type of minibus for you will depend upon your physical capabilities and the amount of money you have available.
These types of vehicles are almost always custom conversions which are built exactly to meet the specific needs of the user. Some are entered through the front side door by means of a lift which transport the user in the wheelchair directly into the driving position. Some people prefer to pass from their wheelchair into the driving seat using a special sliding seat adaption, and then they themselves can store the folded up wheelchair behind the driving seat. With the extra room in a wheelchair accessible minibus the transfer is often alot easier. Frequently modifications also have to be made to the way the car is actually operated, and all this means, that this type of wheelchair accessible vehicle is very expensive. A wheelchair accessible vehicle where the wheelchair user is the passenger is a more economic option as these can be purchased as standard conversions. You might even be able to find a used WAV which meets your needs, but be sure to revise the vehicle thoroughly, just as you would when buying any kind of vehicle. It is easy to forget things like the motor and the tyres and only concentrate on the converted features.
Things you need to consider when deciding what type of wheelchair accessible minibus is best for you. Do you want to travel in the rear part of the vehicle or in the front? Travelling in the front is usually more comfortable especially if you are tall, but conversions, where the wheelchair is secured in the rear, are more common. Would you prefer to enter through the rear, or through a side door? Rear door access requires quite a lot of room behind the vehicle. Side access can be safer, entering and exiting from the pavement rather than the road. Does a ramp or a lift offer easier access for you? Ramps are cheaper, lifts cost more and require regular maintenance. Why not rent a vehicle to discover which of these options suits you best? Always ask for a home trial before purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle. What size of vehicle do you require? How many passengers plus the wheelchair user will normally use the vehicle? Where are you going to park? Will it enter into your garage or driveway? Do you live on a rough road? If so you might ground out as often converted vehicles have a lowered floor to make access easier and to give sufficient headroom. They also frequently have smaller petrol tanks so remember to fill up regularly! Purchasing a minibus for wheelchair users is a big decision, so take your time and investigate the different options that are available. Only purchase from reputable dealers and check that the conversion meets all the required safety standards.
A very nice option of minibus the Mercedes Benz would be suitable for several passengers depending on the configuration or chairs and how many wheelchair users as you could remove chairs to accomadate the wheelchair user.
We can help you find minibuses with wheelchair access (or any other WAV!) - browse our stock or contact a dealer near you here.