Accessibility as philosophy
Accessibility as philosophy
Last year, as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) celebrated its 25th Anniversary, BUSRide intensified its mission to explore the many ways the bus industry is improving the overall transit experience for passengers who rely on paratransit services. In this installment of Equal Access, Greg Heichelbech, REV Group president, Specialty Products, responds to questions on his company’s philosophy behind the vehicles that are safer, more inviting and more comfortable for people who travel in wheelchairs.
What guides REV Group in its work to
It begins with the REV Group tagline – Vehicles for Life – which expresses our commitment to engineering and building vehicles that perform to very high standards for operators who manage transportation in life and death situations, such as medical emergency and fire protection. REV has since brought its philosophy of connecting and protecting to our specialty paratransit bus brands that operate in this arena, but certainly not to such extreme levels.
Nonetheless, with the same level of compassion, we strive to provide this community with special vehicles that dramatically improve the lives of people using wheelchairs, and give them the freedom and access that perhaps they have not experienced in the past. We consider all the situations in which these individuals and their caregivers rely on these vehicles to go about their daily lives.
What innovations by REV Group would the paratransit community see as going above and beyond?
We make it our mission to understand the importance of what goes into the design and manufacture of our paratransit vehicles in terms of need and comfort.
For example, as most passengers in wheelchairs are particularly sensitive to ride quality, ElDorado Mobility has chosen to install its own air suspension systems. Air suspension simply provides the smoothest possible ride at the adjustable height with the best kneeling capability, as well as the optimum ramp slope for easy loading and unloading.
Has REV Group connected directly with the paratransit community in the design and manufacture of its specialty buses?
Not only with this community at large – we have employees working in our company who use wheelchairs, as well as family members in wheelchairs who ride in our vehicles. For example, from their input and feedback, our ElDorado product incorporates the widest doors in the industry at 33 inches; the longest floor at 87 inches for 2 extra inches of foot room for a wheelchair passenger. We offer 58- and 60-inch interior heights and a variety of chairs and seating configurations, and a ramp system that supports 1000 pounds. This is particularly significant as wheelchairs and scooters have become larger.
REV conducts both formal and informal focus groups, in which we have many opportunities to hear from people at trade shows and conferences, and to interact with individuals who wish to sample the vehicles and be assured they’ll work for them.
As a matter of fact, our 10-inch drop floor is coming directly from such interaction and comment from end users. More than a few told us they absolutely did not want to feel like they were “siting in a hole in the back;” that they wanted to a clear view out over the dashboard.
What lies ahead as REV Group works to enhance mobility for the paratransit community?
In terms of product innovation, REV is working to expand on the existing features with new innovations currently in development as we speak. We will continue to improve through an aggressive approach to examine more durable materials and manufacturing processes that expanding the product line; all based on what we hear consumers asking for in the marketplace.