12-1 Blog

The skyline of Boston, a city known for its many wonderful transportation options

Welcome back to the Disabled Travelers blog! Don’t look now, but this could be shaping up as an especially hectic year for those planning to travel for winter holidays or New Years. Airlines are often backed up, and inclement weather might be a nuisance. But remember that disabled travel doesn’t have to be limited to air and sea. Plenty of handicapped travelers are finding ways to get around with accessibility-enhanced trains, buses, and charters. In the U.S., these can sometimes be the “forgotten” travel options, so I’d like to talk about the latest in wheelchair travel “on wheels.”

There are a lot of small, regional bus lines and relatively few companies with national scope here in the United States. The situation is reversed in Europe, where buses are a way of life and wheelchair access is often a basic feature. Greyhound Buses is one of the great national lines, and it’s very clear and forthright on its policies for disabled travel. Handicapped travelers are more than welcome, as are service animals – but there are some combined weight and maximum height requirements for wheelchairs, so be sure to check them out. Greyhound has service areas and routes throughout the States, and can even get you to parts of Canada and Mexico.

Coach USA is an option for scheduled bus services, city-wide sightseeing tours, and charter bus rental throughout several states, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and parts of the Midwest and Canada. According to its fleet information page, each type of bus in service is ADA-compliant, and the only catch is 48 hours notice concerning your needs. Since it’s always wise to contact a charter service well in advance, this shouldn’t be a problem for most folks.

Megabus covers major urban areas mostly in the north, including New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Washington. This company seems a tiny bit less forthcoming, requiring you to contact customer service and confirm that wheelchair accessible buses are available for your intended travel. It is also not quite clear whether personal attendants are admitted free, at a reduced rate, or at full price. I’ll point it out for now, but with a grain of salt until I hear a little more. Let’s hope the disability access is just as good as the rest of these services!

As far as the west coast goes, there are a variety of tour operators and other services, but a lot of them are focused on major destinations like Las Vegas. For traveling in the San Francisco Bay area, Bay Area Rapid Transit is useful and boasts a variety of features for handicapped travelers. BART is a government initiative, and generally speaking, any publicly-supported bus service can be expected to be more accommodating and have fewer barriers to accessibility than a private company you don’t know well. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada even offers door-to-door paratransit and various forms of passenger assistance to mobility-impaired riders; all benefits you may qualify for even if you’re only in Nevada temporarily.

For those looking specifically for a charter bus service, USA Bus Charter is a good option, with ADA-compliant wheelchair accessible buses in major cities throughout the United States. For more general tips on your rights as a handicapped traveler, you can search the official website of the U.S. Access Board, a federal agency that promotes accessible design, for accessibility guidelines pertaining to vehicles and structures. This includes Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines for which compliance is mandatory – the government also provides a great resource website for ADA information.

No offense to bus tour operators, but unless you opt for a high-end charter, trains tend to be more comfortable over long distances. What Greyhound is to buses, Amtrak is to trains. Kind of terse, I know, but I’ve had good experiences with them, and I feel like we can trust Amtrak. For those looking for more general information on disabled travel and choosing an accessible rail provider, Scootaround Mobility Solutions offers a great disabled traveling tips page on how to make your train trip smooth and easy, even if you’re traveling a long way.

That’s it for buses and trains in the U.S., but that’s not all for the subject. Wait until I show you how easy it is to get around in wheelchair accessible buses and trains throughout major destinations in the United Kingdom! Until then, keep adventuring … and don’t miss the bus!


Submit Comment


(required) (This will not be published)

Comment by Bahamas Air Charter Services

Posted on July 29th, 2010

Thanks for sharing the information. This blog is just what I’ve looking for and excited to read all the posts. I am looking forward to another great article from you.

Comment by Wheelchair Lifter

Posted on October 26th, 2010


Have you found it easier to travel in Europe or the United States? Are attitudes much different on either continent? Do you find more wheelchair lifts, wheelchair accessible vehicles and the like in some cities more than others?

With Best Regards,

Comment by Si

Posted on November 13th, 2010


Good question! The laws are definitely on our side in the United States, and most areas have fairly good accessibility standards, with a few east and west coast cities that are really world class in this regard. Europe, on the other hand, is a conundrum. Even post-EU, the laws aren’t quite standardized, so it really depends on exactly where you’re staying.

That said, I’ve been to many places throughout Europe, both on the continent and within the UK, where conditions were extremely good and people have gone out of their way to be helpful. Major cities and many smaller towns in Germany and Sweden were impressive in this regard, while Poland and France seemed to lack a little something. The UK was a mixed bag (heck, even London itself is a mixed bag.)

So, while it’s probably easier to get around in a random locale in the U.S. than a random locale in Europe, it’s definitely an area-by-area issue. Cities and the surroundings of major tourist attractions do tend to be better equipped for accessibility than other regions. Part of the reason for Disabled Travelers is because things are so variable from one place to another, and in a lot of countries, positive change is happening fast.


Comment by Jacob M.

Posted on November 19th, 2010

Royal American Bus charter ownes their own charter buses, minibuses, party buses and limousines, they are not brokers like most of the companies found on search engines. Offering luxury coached for all ages and groups. ADA wheelchair buses are available upon request. Charter buses have more leg room then an average coach which makes it a more comfortable ride to anywhere in the United States. Each vehicle is equipped with multiple monitors, DVD, CD, p/a and Wifi internet connections.

Comment by Atlanta Bus Charter

Posted on February 4th, 2011

If you are in Atlanta and looking for a charter bus there check out Elite Tour Atlanta, one of the great bus charter in Atlanta city.