Seats and Folding Seats
Wheelchair vans, ambulettes, buses and shuttles are made for a myriad of applications, industries and budgets. In order to meet this wide variety of needs, there is an equally wide variety of van and bus seats available.
Wheelchair vans and accessible buses need seats that can fold or flip to move out of the way for wheelchair users. Hotel shuttles and shuttle buses are typically looking for comfortable and spacious seating for their clients.
The two main categories of seats are those that flip or fold out of the way and those that are permanently fixed in a single position.
All of the seats we use are supplied by Freedman Seating Company and are fully crash tested and designed to meet and exceed all safety standards. Freedman is the leader in van and bus seats, and we have worked closely with them over many years to incorporate their products and installation methods into our conversion vehicles.
Flexible van and bus seats are folding and flip seats which give wheelchair vans and buses the flexibility to carry varying numbers of wheelchair users and ambulatory passengers. Flexible seats also allow staff to move the seat out of their way so that they have more room to navigate in the vehicle and/or to secure a wheelchair tie down. Some trips or days staff may have more wheelchair users — other days more ambulatory clients.
Folding seats are those where the back of the seat folds over the bottom and the whole seat folds up against the side of the wheelchair van or bus.
Flip seats are seats where only the bottom of the seat folds up against the back of the seat and the back remains in place.
Folding seats are more common in forward-facing applications because they are the only way to get the seat completely out of the way. Flip seats are more common in side-facing situations because, in a side facing application, it is not necessary to move the back of the seat out of the way, as it is already out of the way against the side of the wheelchair van. Since a flip seat only folds one part of the seat, it is less complicated and therefore less expensive.
Rigid or fixed seats are permanently mounted and the seats cannot be moved or folded out of their position. Rigid or fixed seats are used for permanent ambulatory and staff seating where there is no need to be able to move the seats out of the way. Rigid seats are less complex than folding and flip seats. Rigid or fixed seats are also typically more comfortable for wheelchair van and bus passengers. For luxury and high-end shuttle applications, there are rigid van and bus seats that are built with extra padding and lumbar support to provide the maximum in passenger comfort and visual appeal.
Many options are available to choose from to customize your seats. The availability and specifications of the options vary depending on the type of seat but they all have some common features.
Armrests can be added on either side of most seats to give passengers extra support, to keep them from sliding off the seat and/or to provide separation between passengers. Grab handles are often added to the top of a seat back so that people walking down the aisle or in-between seat rows have a place they can hold onto for additional stability.
Seat back height is another variable. Lower seats require less material and are less expensive. Higher seats provide more comfort to the passenger. Most wheelchair van and ambulette seats — forward facing — have the option of a low, medium or high back. Reclining, sliding forward and back and seat width are also variables that can be ordered differently for each client.
For organizations, such as schools, that will be transporting children, we can also include integrated child seats.
Seating fabrics are another option that can help you customize your seat for comfort, appearance and function. Vinyls and repellant fabrics are great for applications where the risk of spills or body fluids exist. Faux leather and high end fabrics allow you to distinguish your wheelchair van, bus or shuttle bus with a look and feel that shows you care about your image and your passengers. From basic blends to striking color combinations and everything in-between, seating fabrics are available to meet your special needs. Should your seating fabric become damaged or stained, replacement seat covers can be ordered and installed that will match your existing seats and make your seat look as good as new.
Depending on the size of your wheelchair van or bus, there are a variety of seat belts available. For shuttle buses and wheelchair accessible buses with a GVW over 10,000 pounds, only a lap belt is required by law. For smaller vehicles (2009 and newer), each seat must have a 3-point lap and shoulder belt. Most of the van seats used currently have the lap and shoulder belt integrated within the seat, although some are still anchored to the van walls. View the range of seat belts and securement options we provide.