Making Your Bus Handicap Accessible – What to Know

Do you own and operate a vehicle or fleet of vehicles that require modifications in order to make them handicap accessible? There are official Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations that must be followed to make vehicles ADA compliant. ADA-compliant wheelchair accessibility offers passengers a level of safety that often prevents needless injury in an automobile accident. Whether you are installing a wheelchair lift or making other alterations, you will need to know and understand the official government guidelines. For an overview of ADA requirements for over the road bus companies, visit Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ADA requirement page information regarding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s requirements for over the road buses under the ADA regulations.

Under the ADA, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issues and enforces accessibility standards for transportation vehicles. These DOT standards are based on the United States Access Board’s ADA accessibility guidelines, and apply to new or remanufactured transportation vehicles covered by the ADA. These vehicles include busses and vans, rail cars, automated guideway vehicles, trams, and similar vehicles.

Making Your Bus Handicap Accessible

The purpose of the ADA is, in part, to prohibit owners and operators of passenger vessels ‘…including U.S. and foreign-flag vessels, from discriminating against passengers on the basis of disability; requires vessels and related facilities to be accessible; and requires owners and operators of vessels to take steps to accommodate passengers with disabilities.’ Making a vehicle handicap accessible often includes installation of assistive devices which are, according to federal regulations, any modification which involves ‘…any piece of equipment that assists a passenger with a disability to cope with the effects of his or her disability. Such devices are intended to assist a passenger with a disability to hear, see, communicate, maneuver, or perform other functions of daily life, and may include medical devices.’

Regarding over the road bus (OTRB) service providers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that “In general, DOT’s ADA regulations require accessible, timely OTRB service for passengers with disabilities, including wheelchair users,” and has established alternatives for small fixed route, demand responsive, and mixed companies.

Below are listed five specific elements of the comfort and safety features that need to be included when modifying a vehicle to be ADA compliant. Be sure to verify these elements when purchasing an ADA-compliant vehicle from an authorized dealer:

  1. Lift door height must have 56” door opening height
  2. Handicap lift must measure 30” x 40” and be a wide, clear platform
  3. Wheelchair attachments must be able to withstand 2,500 of pressure per leg
  4. Seat belt mechanism must include four point tie downs with lap and shoulder belts
  5. Interior lighting must be a minimum of one foot candle of illumination

Davey Coach Service offers wheelchair accessible buses and ADA compliant buses for sale to individuals and businesses interested in offering handicap accessible vehicles for their passengers. Davey Coach also offers servicing for these vehicles at our state-of-the-art, 12,000 square-feet, 7-service bay facility, which can accommodate vehicles up to 35 feet in length. Our service facility features extra-high vaulted ceilings to accommodate large equipment, along with hydraulic lifts, brake and tire equipment, and an alignment rack. At Davey Coach, we’ve got all your vehicle transportation and service needs covered, and our technicians are trained in the latest procedures and equipment.

For more information regarding ADA compliance, to make an appointment, or to speak to one of our helpful, knowledgeable staff about any specific bus needs or questions you may have, please feel free to contact us today at (303) 683-9500 or toll free at (800) 873-1856, or email us at