Guide to Accessible Buses

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SMAT offers its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit services to eligible persons for trips beginning and ending within SMAT's ADA service area. SMAT uses the 2000 United States Census definition of the Santa Maria/Orcutt Urbanized Area for the boundaries of the ADA service area. If you are unsure whether or not your home or destination lies within the SMAT ADA service area, please call the SMAT Office at 928-5624.


To make your first ride on SMAT's accessible buses safe and enjoyable, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with the features of SMAT's accessible buses before you take your trip. You may also want to take someone along the first time you use the bus. Or, you can arrange for special mobility training through the SMAT operations office.

All SMAT buses are equipped with a wheelchair lift and some with a "kneeling" feature. The wheelchair lift will lower a platform to the ground and lift a wheelchair onto the bus. The lift is also available for use by individuals who cannot maneuver the bus steps. The passenger stands on the lift as it raises to the bus level. The "kneeling" feature mechanically lowers or kneels the front of the bus closer to the curb.

All SMAT buses can accommodate two wheelchair passengers simultaneously. One wheelchair station is on the curbside of the bus and the other station is on the street side of the bus, as shown in the diagram. 



  1. When the bus stops at the curb, position your wheelchair approximately six feet from the wheelchair accessible doorway.
  2. BEFORE the SMAT driver operates the wheelchair lift, ambulatory passengers will get on and off the bus.
  3. AFTER the SMAT driver lowers the lift platform all the way to the ground, position your chair directly onto the platform. You may find it easier to back onto the platform.
  4. When the chair is completely on the platform, secure the chair brakes. The driver will raise the safety flap and elevate the lift. The chair brakes must be locked (either manually or electronically) before the platform rises.
  5. Please wait until the platform is fully elevated and level with the floor of the bus before wheeling on board.
  6. The driver will raise the regular passenger seats to expose the wheelchair station. Position your chair in the wheelchair station space. The driver will secure the wheelchair to the floor with the tie-downs, which are required.
  7. Buses are also equipped with seatbelts for the wheelchair. The seatbelts are optional, so tell the driver whether or not you want it secured. 



Generally, leaving the bus is just the reverse of boarding. Do not attempt to remove the tie-downs on your own; the driver will remove them after the bus stops.

  1. When leaving the bus, the driver will position the lift for your departure. The chair brakes must be applied before the platform descends.
  2. Once the platform has been lowered completely and the safety flap lowers, release the brakes and wheel onto the sidewalk.


If you have difficulty climbing steps, ask the SMAT driver to "kneel the bus." Most SMAT buses are "low-floor" buses that do not have steps at all. When boarding these newer low-floor vehicles, simply ask the driver to "kneel" the bus, and extend the ramp for you. Once the ramp is extended onto the sidewalk, simply walk onto the bus carefully and pay your fare or show the driver your SMAT bus pass. In case an older SMAT bus (that does have steps) arrives at your stop, you may ask the driver to "kneel" the bus, or allow you to utilize the wheelchair lift with driver assistance. Once the front of the bus has lowered, step forward to the first step and use the handrails to maneuver the other two steps.




SMAT provides mobility training for interested individuals and groups. This training includes a demonstration of the features of our buses and the opportunity to board a real bus to familiarize yourself with these features. Training will also include instruction in how to read schedules. Please call the SMAT operations office at 928-5624 if you would like more information or wish to schedule a mobility training session.


Persons with disabilities are eligible for a discounted fare of $.60 on the regular bus service. SMAT requires proper identification for using the disabled fare. SMAT Disability ID Cards are obtained by visiting the SMAT Operations Office at 1303 Fairway Drive. You will be required to bring official documentation of your disability and identity to obtain your SMAT Disability ID Card. For more information about the bus fare requirements for persons with disabilities, please call or visit our office Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. or click below:

Instructions: Print the forms, fill out, and mail them to the address shown on the form.

  • For an Application for SMAT's Disability ID Card, click here.
  • To learn about the SMAT ADA Certification process, click here. 
  • For SMAT ADA Paratransit Reservation Rules, click here.

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