TCZ positive about wheelchair transport with lowered floor
Passenger vans of the Jumpy, Expert, Vivaro and ProAce types are very suitable for taxi transport, but it is less known that these types are also available for wheelchair transport. Now that the electric variant of these types has been released with a WLTP range of up to 330 kilometers, the solution for electric wheelchair transport is one step closer. Taxicompany TCZ has been driving the Toyota ProAce wheelchair adapation for over two years, so its time for a review.
The Transport Group Westemeijer
We spoke to director Stan Ackermans on site of Vervoersgroep Westemeijer; the collective name for the companies Taxicentrale Zwolle and Touringcarbedrijf IJsseltours. Approximately 300 people work within the Transport Group and more than 200 taxis and coaches operate in various work areas. TCZ is responsible for all smalle scale passenger transport up to 9 people, from school transport to healthcare transport and taxi rides. For this transport segment, the group regularly collaborates with Tribus for the conversion of taxi and wheelchair buses.
Benefits immediately clear
At the Taxi Expo fair in 2018, Tribus launched the demo model Toytota ProAce wheelchair solution. Stan Ackermans of TCZ and Sjoerd van der Woude of Tribus started talking and soon a demonstration of the lowering of the ground followed. “I immediately saw the great advantages of this vehicle; a compact 9-seater minibus. Due to its low weight, the vehicle is very economical in use and can also be used flexibly. For example, he can enter any parking garage,” says Ackermans.
“I think the biggest disadvantage is that it can only accommodate one wheelchair passenger and that the rear bench is only accessible via the seat in the first row, which folds forward. That is not the easiest entrance for the elderly or people who have a dissability. Although I did not immediately have a specific destination for the vehicle, I was willing to take this experiment on as Sjoerd offered a good price.”
Lower fuel costs
Ackermans continues: “We have started using the vehicle for regional taxi and healthcare transport. These trips are often requested on an ad hoc basis and therefor did not always achieve optimal occupancy. We concluded that for these kinds of rides, a Caddy with one wheelchair space is the most suitable solutions. We are now driving group transport with the ProAce and that appears to be the ideal solution. We transport students who go to a special school on the Zwolle-Kampen-Haren (Groningen) route, a route of approximately 135 kilometers. We are now well placed in terms of occupancy: four walking passengers and one wheelchair space.”
We also speak to Erik Assen, fleet manager at TCZ, who regularly receives feedback about this vehicle. “Our drivers are extremely enthusiastic about the vehicle, because it drives very well. It saves a lot of fuel compared to larger wheelchair minibuses. It is compact, fast and comfortable to drive. The spaces and the view for the passengers are also good. We are currently driving the diesel variant, but I am sure we will switch to electric as soon as the client asks for this.”
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Wheelchair adaptation also available on electric vans
The wheelchair adaptation with lowered floor from Tribus can be applied to all minibuses in the small segment, such as the Vivaro, Jumpy, Expert and ProAce. These types have also recently been released as an electric variant which can also be converted with the wheelchair adaptation. By converting the chassis with a lowered floor, a lower angle of inclination is created from the street, so that the wheelchair passengers can easily be wheeled in via the ramp. It can accommodate eight passengers, plus the driver.
To carry a wheelchair passenger, three TriflexAIR seats have to be folded up, so that five passengers plus one wheelchair passenger can be transported. The wheelchair restraint system works with XXL belts that can be hooked from the car to the wheelchair outside. This allows the wheelchair passenger to be wheeled in safely. Once inside, the retractors are locked with the button on the right side and the rear retractors can be placed. After connecting the three-point belt, the wheelchair passenger is ready to be transported.