The 4 to 1 occupancy debate can finally come to an end! There has been a lot of confusion the past year-and-a-half about how many occupants you are allowed in certain types of vehicles when you have a wheelchair involved. Is it considered one chair or four chairs, which types of vehicles does it apply to, and whom does it apply to?
Recently, the Province of Manitoba released a document which helps provide the much needed clarity in the 4 to 1 occupancy debate. Basically, Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) is putting Highway Traffic Act (HTA) amendments in place. This will expand the Safety Fitness Council program. The expansion applies to additional passenger vehicles designed for seating with 11 or more seats (including the driver.) If a vehicle is used 100% for personal use, it is excluded from the SFC program.
Part of this expansion now includes wheelchair accessible vehicles. The seating capacity of an accessible vehicle is determined by each mobility occupant position. Each mobility vehicle occupant position is the equivalent of four conventional seating positions. The SFC program does not regulate light-weight vehicle safety. Here is a quote directly from the document:
The four to one ratio rule applies only to passenger vehicles that were designed to seat 11 or more, including the driver. For example, an eight-person minivan with one conventional seating position removed to accommodate a wheelchair occupant, is not considered to have 11 seats. However, a 15-passenger van that has been modified to accommodate wheelchair occupants is considered to seat 11 or more and must meet SFC program requirements.
Currently, operators of passenger vehicles that are registered as public service vehicles (PSV), (ex: being used to provide a for-hire passenger transportation service) must hold the SFC and meet SFC program requirements. Beginning September 1, 2015, heavy passenger vehicles that are not registered as a PSV, not used exclusively for personal purposes, or not regulated under The Taxicab Act will require a valid SFC and must meet applicable program requirements. This includes school buses, transit buses and other heavy passenger vehicles used to provide a not-for-profit transportation service. Examples of such vehicles might include a bus operated by summer camp to provide transportation for campers or a 15-passenger van used by a church to transport members.
Starting September 1, 2015, a new vehicle registration class has been created. The new class is called regulated passenger vehicle (RPV.) Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) will require all heavy passenger vehicle operators renewing their registrations to determine their registration and plate requirements. This can be done at any MPI Service Centre or broker.
If someone has questions about the SFC program and the requirements, the number to call is 204.945.7571; toll-free 1.877.340.9068 or visit http://www.gov.mb.ca/mit/mcd/mcs/hvsi/index.html. You can download the memo from the Provincial Government by clicking the link below:
It’s nice to get the clarity needed around the 4 to 1 occupancy debate. The key takeaways are to make sure the right vehicle is chosen for your organization, the right registration and licensing, and to make sure you have the correct number of seats in a vehicle.