Evacusafe > A beginner’s guide to using a transit wheelchair

A beginner’s guide to using a transit wheelchair

When it comes to pushing passengers in wheelchairs, there are a few things that you need to know. There is not just one type of transit wheelchair that is easy for everyone. In this post we will cover the main types and what makes them easier or harder to push. You may also wish to read our next article entitled 7 ways how elderly care is changing.

Transit wheelchairs

Transit wheelchairs (also known as transport chairs) have much smaller wheels and lighter frames. Essentially, they are lightweight wheelchair which requires a transit attendant and they are very easy when it comes to pushing mobility-impaired passengers from one place to another. They are a lot different from the various types of manual wheelchair and self propelled wheelchairs which you may be used to seeing.

They are used daily by various health services such as care homes, hospitals, and ambulance units. You may even see them being used by airport staff within airports themselves to push passengers through terminals; who need assistance in order to navigate their way to an airplane or other public places.

It is worth noting that transit wheelchairs are a lot different from the standard self-propelled wheelchairs that you may see in use practically anywhere. These types of chairs do not require an attendant to push the passenger, who is often quite proficient and moving by themselves due to their own experience and the design of their specific wheelchair.

A lightweight transit wheelchair makes a fantastic transport tool for anyone suffering from a mobility disadvantage.

Caring for the elderly, a guide to using a transit wheelchair

Training courses

Generally, if it forms part of your job, you will have received the correct training because you will need to know which type of chair is best for your passengers. If you do not have this training, then it would be worth taking a course or reading up on the different types of wheelchairs and what they are suited to so that you can better understand when someone might require an electric wheelchair vs. a manual chair to push them around.

Here is a quick guide for how to use a transit wheelchair

Transit wheelchairs are designed to be used by an individual, who we will refer to as an ‘attendant’, to assist someone in getting from place to place, usually within the above-mentioned locations.
They are the best type of wheelchair for pushing is one with smaller wheels and a lightweight frame as they are easily manoeuvrable. They are much more useful in many situations compared to a standard wheelchair.

What are the first steps?

Passengers are firstly helped to the transit wheelchair. The attendant will often place a padded wheelchair cushion on top of their lap and adjust it for comfort before securing it in place with seat straps. This helps the passenger to feel safe and secure and also prevents pressure sores. The seat width and seat depth should be suitable for most passengers, including wheelchair passengers.

A padded seat, along with arm and footrests provides comfort and support. The smaller wheels and lighter frames make pushing a transit wheelchair much easier for the attendant, but they do not provide the same level of stability as larger wheels for increased safety at high speeds or rugged terrain. Therefore, they are best suited to smoother, more level floors, wherever possible.

Larger wheelchairs are better suited to those who need more mobility assistance over long distances because it is difficult for someone with average strength to push a passenger over a long distance. Your supervisor is likely to advise you with regards to this.

What happens when the passenger reaches their destination?

Once the passenger’s destination is reached, they may need to remain in the chair until they are ready to be moved. Again, if moving a passenger out of the chair forms a part of your job, you should have received the appropriate training. However, below you will find a quick guide.

How to safely move a passenger into, and from, a transit wheelchair

At all times safety is paramount for the passenger and attendant alike. In order to move a passenger from a transit wheelchair, you should always initially have the passenger seated in the chair.

Please be careful when transferring a person in and out of their wheelchair. It’s important to keep the back straight and use your knees instead of bending over them while they’re sitting on the chair, so you don’t injure yourself or cause any harm to that individual as well. To safely transfer into the wheelchair with someone who is lying down, it might help if another person moves close by for support before getting ready for contact; once this has been established prepare ahead by having everything set up beforehand – such as all foot pedals moved away from where you’ll need to stand during contact time.

Several steps are required for safely transferring a passenger from a transit wheelchair, these include:

  • It’s always best to move the transit wheelchair as close as possible to where you are moving the passenger to.
  • Transfer on the stronger side of the person’s body.
  • If the transit wheelchair has brakes, please ensure they are engaged and keep the chair locked into position locked whilst the passenger is moving into or out of it.
  • It is also best where possible to ensure any foot pedal, leg rest or footplate are moved out of the way.
  • You may use a gait belt as an additional precaution to prevent injury to the passenger.
  • Ensure that you protect your back by bending your knees during the transfer process and maintaining a natural curve in your back.
  • Before you remove the passenger from the chair ensure the lap belt or any safety straps have been released.
  • Please ensure the chair is secure before you lift or slide the passenger to their new location.

If the passenger starts to fall, don’t try to stop the fall. Bend your knees and slowly lower them instead onto a safe surface–bed, chair or any other surface that will make their trip more comfortable than hard ground. Call for help if necessary but be sure you communicate with the person being transferred from beforehand so you can work together efficiently on this process of transferring someone who needs assistance getting up off something securely without falling over again in an effort at it alone!

Please always remember that communication is key to a successful transfer. Before you begin, let the passenger know exactly what your plan for the process is and how they can help make it go smoothly.


As with all specialist safety equipment, Evacusafe strongly recommends that you are fully trained or aware of how to manually handle a passenger into and out of a transit wheelchair. Please get in touch with our office if you wish to discuss training options. Our team can be contacted on 01256 332723 or info@evacusafe.co.uk.

Click here to view all Evacusafe models of transit wheelchairs.

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