What to Know About a Commercial Wheelchair Lift


Amtrak recently made headlines by charging two people who use wheelchairs $25,000 for train tickets. National outcry, including from a US Senator, caused the company to reverse course and charge the regular ticket price.

Stories like this highlight the importance of accessibility for businesses as well as customers.

An estimated 25.5 million Americans have disabilities that make travel more difficult. Opening your business to this market would give you a competitive edge. Are you ready to invest in a commercial wheelchair lift for your vehicle?

Find out here what you need to know about commercial wheelchair lifts. You'll be able to buy with confidence.

What Kind of Vehicle Do You Have?

The first factor to consider when you're looking for a commercial wheelchair lift is the type of vehicle you'll be installing it in. Wheelchair lifts are available for commercial vehicles like:

  • Paratransit vans
  • Taxi and rideshare vans
  • Cutaway buses
  • School buses
  • Motorcoaches

You'll need to take into account the floor-to-ground height requirement for the vehicle and the platform size you can accommodate. The amount of visibility you'll have when the lift is stowed is another consideration. For an electric wheelchair lift, you need to verify that the lift works with the voltage of your vehicle's electrical system. 

Single-Arm or Dual-Arm Wheelchair Lift?

Single-arm wheelchair lifts are available, but a dual-arm wheelchair lift is usually a better choice for commercial use.

Single-arm lifts take up less interior space. However, they can't lift as much as a dual-arm lift. Most single-arm wheelchair lifts have a maximum lifting capacity of 600 lbs. Single-arm lifts are also less stable.

A dual-arm lift takes up more space. However, it gives you more stability because the two arms distribute the weight better.

Dual-arm lifts can lift more than single-arm lifts. The maximum lifting capacity for most dual-arm lifts is 800 lbs.

Internally Mounted or Under-Vehicle Mounted?

An internally mounted wheelchair lift is usually less expensive than an under-vehicle lift. It's also easier to service.

However, an internally mounted lift takes up more interior space in the vehicle. When installed in the side door of a van, it can restrict the movement of the front passenger seat.

Under-vehicle lifts cost more than internally mounted lifts. They reduce your vehicle's ground clearance, but this usually doesn't cause any serious problems. They're also somewhat harder to maintain because of their special weather-proof housing.

Under-vehicle lifts give you several advantages, though. They have a higher weight capacity. Under-vehicle lifts don't take up any space inside your vehicle. You don't lose any visibility or internal vehicle access.

Safety Features

Your commercial wheelchair lift should be NHTSA compliant. This means that it includes certain safety features.

Safety interlocks stop the lift from moving in situations that could be dangerous. For example, the vehicle can't shift into drive while the wheelchair lift is moving.

Some lifts have an alarm that sounds if you get too close to the doorway when the lift isn't level with the vehicle.

Other important safety features include non-slip surfaces and tie-downs to keep the lift from moving when it's not in use. Safety railings or straps keep the wheelchair from falling off the platform while the platform is moving. Battery or manual backup systems ensure the lift will work even during a power failure.

Finding the Right Commercial Wheelchair Lift

Finding the best commercial wheelchair lift starts with ADA and NHTSA compliance. Once you've answered some basic questions about the type of vehicle you have and the features you're looking for, you're ready to choose your lift.

BraunAbility has been providing durable and reliable commercial wheelchair lifts since 1963. You can choose an internally mounted or under-vehicle model. You can choose the platform size, lifting capacity, and other parameters that fit your needs.

More importantly, BraunAbility is with you after your purchase. We're ready to provide any service or repair support you need.

Check out our line of commercial wheelchair lifts and start benefiting from increased mobility today.

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