Accommodating an Aging Population through Transit

By Emma Green with contribution by Sarah Erdman

According to the US Census Bureau an estimated 75 million Americans are 60 and older or roughly 22 percent of the population. Americans rely on public and private transportation for a vast variety of reasons, including commuting for work, retail shopping, attending medical appointments, leisure and many more. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows an estimated 25.5 million Americans have disabilities that can present challenges to traveling outside the home, 11.2 million of these are 65 and older, accounting for 43.9 percent of people with disabilities and 23.5 percent of their age group. Access to mobility increases quality of life for countless Americans. Organizations like ABC Companies are making it a priority to provide diverse and accessible vehicles that offer a comfortable journey while simultaneously addressing air quality, noise, and ease of access.

Available in an assortment of sizes, configurations, and propulsion systems, ABC Companies’ shuttles, vans and low floor transit buses are designed to support ADA mobility and provide transportation solutions that improve the environment while delivering a better experience for passengers. 

Many assisted living facilities provide transportation for residents. The transportation options vary widely between facilities, however, there are a few important features that are indispensable to any paratransit or ADA accessible vehicle: 

• Ramp access 

• Kneeling capabilities 

• Wheelchair lift and spaces

• Floor height

As a leading provider of motorcoach, transit, shuttles and vans in the US and Canada, ABC Companies is now leading the charge to the electrification of vehicle fleets while continuing to provide traditional gas, diesel and CNG passenger vehicles. Offering an expansive range from 8 to 81 passenger capacities, the electric vehicles available encompass both new and diesel to EV conversions. The RePower program converts many existing gas or diesel fleet vehicles to 100 percent battery electric power, expanding the useful life of the vehicles and reducing operating costs. 

Well known benefits to battery electric vehicles include eliminating tail-pipe emissions and fuel cost savings. Lesser-known benefits include minimizing vibrations, and noise. The benefits of all-electric paratransit and ADA accessible vehicles provide passengers and operators with a smooth, quiet, and comfortable ride. Zero emissions vehicles may offer an ideal transportation solution for some segments of the population for these reasons. 

Operators seeking vehicles that accommodate accessibility while retaining the benefits of EV’s can look to ABC Companies variety of vehicles to meet their needs.  

Low floor vehicles with optional ramp: 

Vicinity Motor Corp offers low floor transit buses and shuttles. Their compact and efficient Lightning low floor EV transit bus offers a compact and efficient EV transit bus solution. Passenger seating up to 25 with 34 maximum passengers including standing spaces. The Vicinity Classic is a low floor transit bus available in diesel and CNG. The Vicinity Optimal S1 EV low floor shuttle offers a smaller footprint, multiple floorplans and up to 3 wheelchair configurations.

Sunset Vans is built on the familiar Ford Transit and Dodge Ram ProMaster platforms. Sunset Vans offers highly configurable low floor vehicles with EV and gas propulsions. The electric minibus accommodates 8 passengers and up to three wheelchair occupants. Key features include bi-folding aluminum ramp with swing away access, and rapid electric dual sliding doors on select models. 

The New England Wheels Frontrunner while currently only available in traditional gas propulsion, offers excellent accessibility with optional front and rear kneeling suspension for curb height access with ramp. The flexible seating arrangements accommodates up to three wheelchair spaces with Q’STRAINT slide ‘n click wheelchair restraints. The chassis is Hot-Dip galvanized for superior corrosion resistance. These among many other features make this vehicle an excellent option for assisted living facilities and transit. 

Step up vehicles with optional lift: 

The Turtle Top Odyssey available with gas or EV propulsion this family of buses offers a first-class travel experience on the Chevrolet and Ford chassis. With innovation, styling, and quality, the Odyssey shuttle bus is a popular choice for churches, assisted living facilities, and airport shuttles. Turtle Top includes a five-sided steel cage and other standard equipment most consider optional. Both passengers and drivers can enjoy the responsiveness of the all-electric engine and appreciate the quiet, smooth ride.

The Turtle Top Terra Transit also available with gas or EV propulsion this shuttle bus is an economical complement to Turtle Top’s mid-size fleet and is available on a Chevy or Ford Chassis. This straight sidewall version of the Odyssey maintains the same safety standards that Turtle Top incorporates in all models. This budget-sensitive Turtle Top comes packed with standard equipment and a generous supply of options. With a variety of floor plans, it can meet needs for storage, seating preference, and wheelchair accessibility. 

Driverge Ford Transit CurbSmart® Small Bus and Microtransit Van. The patent pending Ford Transit CurbSmart® is designed to transport passengers as safely and efficiently as possible thanks to an added curbside entry and exit. The aptly named CurbSmart can accommodate up to six ambulatory passengers plus two wheelchair passengers. The vehicle is equipped with a side or rear lift, retractable wheelchair restraints and smart floor track to accommodate a variety of wheelchair types and sizes. 

 A heavy-duty lift for wheelchair passengers offers safe accessibility, while a 27 inches wide and 80 inches tall walk-in door provides generous height for passengers. Ideal for senior friendly microtransit, transport and paratransit these vehicles are ADA compliant without sacrificing comfort.

Sarah Erdman is marketing manager, Specialty Vehicles and Technologies (SVT) division, for ABC Companies. Visit for more information.