FAQs for Commercial Lift Vans

Commercial Lift Vans & NEMT Vehicles

Commercial Lift Vans Faqs

Commercial wheelchair vans are used by non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) providers, assisted living facilities, hospitals, VA medical centers, group homes and community sponsored senior programs.

What is an ambulette and paratransit van?

The terms Ambulette and Paratransit are often used when describing commercial wheelchair vans — and are often interchangeable.  In general, an ambulette is an industry term for a non-emergency transport vehicle as opposed to an ambulance used for emergency situations. An ambulette is a lower-cost option for hospitals and other types of medical facilities to transfer a patient from one facility to another, or to pick up a patient from their home for medical treatments. Paratransit, on the other hand is often used to describe a “service” being provided by a local government agency such as a Region Transit Authority or local community with senior services. Ambulette and Paratransit vans can often be the same upfit configuration, just used in a different way. Ambulette commercial vans are also often used to describe a gurney or “cot van” for when the patient needs to be transported while lying on a stretcher. For additional information, view our media room article on Commonly Used Acronyms used with Commercial Vans.

What type of training is available for commercial wheelchair van drivers?

The most thorough driver training program for transporting wheelchair passengers is provided by The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA). Their PASS training course which stands for Passenger Assistance Safety and Sensitivity is considered the “industry standard” for those in the non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) industry. PASS training ensures that wheelchair passengers are transported in the most safe, sensitive and careful manner possible. During the course, driver/operators are shown the proper method to load and unload a person in a wheelchair, how to use the securement devices  (tie-downs, straps & retractors) and how to handle special circumstances.

There are currently more than 150,000 drivers that are PASS Certified providing trips across the country. A few of the larger mobility dealers and vehicle upfitters can offer training by a CTAA Certified PASS Trainer at your facility — or at a nearby major city. Contact CTAA to learn more and to find a local trainer in your area.

Where do you find commercial wheelchair vans for sale?

Many of The Mobility Resource dealers sell new and used commercial vans. Just as important is their ability to service and maintain the lift equipment that’s been installed on the vehicle. All of The Mobility Resource dealers are NMEDA members with certified technicians and quick access to lift replacement parts. For business owners, most mobility dealers have a commercial sales team or commercial representative that can order a new van to your specifications. You can see some of their new and used commercial van inventory on this website using  the “full-size”filter. Partially prebuilt conversions that can be quickly customized to your needs are also typically available.

If you don’t see a mobility dealer near you, don’t be deterred. Most upfitters can ship to anywhere in the country. If you have a certain make and model in mind, the major OEMs have programs that identify and approve specific conversion upfitters that meet their requirements for quality and service. The following links can be used for OEM commercial van research:

Ford Find an Upfitter:  Search for a Ford Authorized upfitter near you.
RAM Business Link: Upfitter & Bailment Pools
Mercedes-Benz Vans: Master Upfitter & Master Solutions

What type of vans are used for commercial wheelchair transport?

The majority of commercial wheelchair vans are considered to be a full-size vehicle. That generally means the style of van built with a high roof and sliding side door, like a Ford Transit (T150 & T350 models), RAM ProMaster (2500 models) or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Older Ford models were built on their E-Series vans. There are, however, many different accessible minivans also built specifically for commercial customers, such as taxi and for-hire vehicle operators.

The full-size type of van used for non-emergency wheelchair transportation is similar to those used by companies like Amazon and UPS for local package delivery. The exact make and model depends on the total passenger capacity needed and how many wheelchair riders the customer wants to be able to transport at one time. Wheelchair lifts can be installed on the rear of the vehicle or on the passenger side, depending on how the vehicle will be used.

A larger vehicle with a center aisle is called a minibus, cutaway or center aisle van. Minibuses are typically built on larger, extended length chassis. In some circumstances, you may see a commercial van referred to as a WAV van, for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle, AE van for Accessibility Enhanced, Handicap Accessible, Paratransit or Ambulette.

What is a commercial wheelchair van vs. a typical van sold to consumers?

Commercial wheelchair vans, like those used by non-emergency medical transportation providers and assisted living facilities, must meet certain ADA and safety-related requirements for any modifications made to the vehicle and for any equipment that’s been installed. Documentation about the equipment must also be provided to the vehicle operators, such as the wheelchair lift and wheelchair tie-down devices. This documentation includes instruction manuals and training materials for the drivers in the proper use of the equipment and passenger safety guidelines.

For companies that modify vehicles for wheelchair use, the vehicle must pass a detailed inspection process before it is used with the general public. Quality upfitters adhere to FMVSS and NHTSA government requirements, in addition to guidelines provided by industry organizations such as CTAA, NMEDA, and NTEA.

Commercial vans are typically shown as being a full-size type of vehicle in our inventory.

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