As Jean Moriki maneuvered her motorized wheelchair across the curbside ramp into the new Champion LF Transport™ paratransit bus, she realized she had been waiting years for just such a vehicle.
“An entryway that is accessible for everyone and does not segregate passengers using mobility devices to access a standard lift presents a much more dignified way to enter and exit a transit vehicle,” she said. “It focuses less attention on passengers who cannot use stairs. To me, the entryway is the best feature of this new bus.”
Moriki has been relying on public transit and paratransit services since 1999. Since 2006, she has worked as an advocate for improved transportation solutions for people with disabilities. She says she chose her condominium in central Phoenix specifically for its proximity to the Valley Metro light-rail system, as well as access to low-floor transit buses. However, small and midsize paratransit, shuttle and circulator buses have been another matter.
“In addition to the toll that standard paratransit takes on a person’s sense of dignity, it creates frustration over the amount of time it takes to board and unload,” Moriki says. “It comes across all too often as hindrance and source of irritation to the other passengers. I found riding on Champion’s LF Transport so much more smooth, roomier and far more comfortable compared to so many other standard transit vehicles that I’ve ridden.”
Dallas Smith, founder of Dallas Smith Corp., Greencastle, IN, began pioneering the need for better vehicle accessibility 20 years ago when he witnessed firsthand the seemingly constant challenges a passenger in a wheelchair faced when entering and exiting a bus. And through the product developments his company had made for the truck and trailer industry to provide easier, safer, smarter transport; he would apply those same disciplines to achieve equal accessibility for all public transportation passengers…