Height of beds off floor (inches) for handicapped traveller?

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Bill T.

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Hello,

I have a handicapped relative who can't fly and wants to travel by train. However this person can't "bend down" very low to get in an out of bed. Her bed has to be high enough off the floor that she can lever herself off with the help of her partner. Usually her bed is about 26-30" off the floor, which is very high up.

Does anybody know how many inches the beds are, off the floor. I'm talking about, how many inches from the top of the matress to the floor? For either bedroom or roomette, or any other size room?

Thank you for any help!

PS. Also wondering if corridors in the train are wide enough to allow a walker through. She doesn't use a wheelchair, but uses a walker that is 18" wide.
 

pennyk

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I do not have the answer to your question, but here is a link describing accessible rooms.

There is a difference between superliner (2 levels) and viewliner (1 level) sleeper cars.
 

joelkfla

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I found one report that the bed height in the accessible bedroom on the lower level of a Superliner is 20". I think it would be about the same in all room types, as the lower bunk is made just by putting a thin mattress pad on either a couch or on 2 seat cushions slid together. So the bed height is just the height of a couch or seat cushion plus a couple of inches for the pad.

FYI, since you appear to be new to Amtrak travel: long distance trains that serve NYC use single-level Viewliner cars; trains that don't serve NYC generally use bilevel Superliner cars.

Viewliner sleepers have one accessible bedroom right next to the car's entry door, so you don't need to go thru a corridor to get to it.

Superliner sleepers have one accessible bedroom at the end of a short wide corridor on the lower level. You can't move between cars on the lower level; you have to climb a steep, narrow, winding staircase to get to the upper level.

All accessible bedrooms have bathroom facilities in the room. Car attendants will deliver meals to the room on request.
 
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Alice

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The beds are much lower. I can't give you a measure. But my wheelchair wheels are 24 inches and the bed is lower than the top of the wheels. I looked but couldn't find any pictures to get a better idea. I think the bed is lower than an ADA toilet because my feet reach the ground on the train and dangle from ADA toilets.

The aisle to the accessible room is wide enough. The other aisles are narrower but I think they are barely wide enough for the walker. I taught my mother to use a walker turned sideways, with her body in the center and using both hands on the part in front of her for narrow places. It took her some practice. Mostly we used it when restaurants had stacked a bunch of stuff like baby chairs in the aisle on the way to restrooms. She also used it sideways on stairs, said it was easier.

There are a couple of options for the bed. I'm assuming sitting down is not a problem, it is getting back up? Again, these take some practice.

If she is strong, tie a rope with a series of handles (like a hand-sized ladder) to the upper bunk. There is a harness up there to keep people from falling out that is strong enough for an anchor. For that matter, you could also rig something like a boatswain's chair on a pulley to the upper bunk. It wouldn't have to be that fancy. The big thing is there is not that much space between the upper and lower bunks.

Then there is what I rigged to get my mother up without help when she landed on the ground now and then. I carried an inflatable ball and 12v/battery pump. We would slide a flat ball under her, then inflate it. The ball had a bicycle valve so I could screw on the pump. From there she could slide over into the side of my van. A square shaped ball would have been easier, it took a lot of concentration and cooperation to keep her from losing her balance and rolling off. You could try something like that for getting up from the bed, perhaps an old innertube.

Hopefully someone knows the actual measures, or someone taking a trip soon will pack a tape measure and post here. I see you are a guest. There are some forums where people post trips they are planning that you can't see yet. When you can, you can PM people taking trips soon and ask them to measure things for you.

Where does the relative live (city)? Then we'd know whether she'll be starting with a Viewliner or Superliner and have better advice. Also, she should reserve the accessible room, she'll find it a lot more comfortable. Specifically, the toilet is a little higher (but not 30 inches!) and has grab bars.
 
B

Bill T.

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Thank you for the thoughtful and courteous replies. 20 inches looks about right when I look at photos on the website (they show people sitting down on the bed and you can kind of see how long their legs are).

A boatswain's chair unfortunately can't work; with her hip damage, her hip/legs don't even bend that way. She can't sit in a regular chair at all, the hip joint doesn't bend 90 degrees any more! She can't fly on any domestic airlines because they force you to sit straight up and down during takeoff and she can't do that. She'd stay in the bed the entire trip when not standing up to use the toilet or shower.

Sitting down IS the problem. If it's 20 inches, she'll fall too hard and will hit the bed hard enough to cause more damage. She has to ease down and we know from experience that even with a helper, that is very hard to do properly . Plus it's very unpleasant to require a helper every moment of every day, it would be so much better for her to be able to leverage up when she wants.

However we're thinking about trying a 4 inch thick air mattress or foam mattress as we saw in another forum. I'm pretty handy so that's not impossible. If we could get the height to 24 inches I think that will be manageable maybe with a pull rope of some sort.

This trip would be out of Emeryville to Chicago. Would have me with her. Always wanted to do that trip anyway.

Again many thanks for input. All ideas most helpful.
 

bratkinson

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I don't have any measurements, but I can say that the space under the lower seat in roomettes is sufficient to put a nearly-empty rolling airline carry-on size bag under the bed in both Viewliners and Superliners. I'd add maybe 8 inches above that for the frame, seat cushion, and 1" foam cushion that gets rolled out to make the facing seats into beds. I'll speculate that the beds in the handicap rooms are at the same height as well.
 

joelkfla

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Two things you should be aware of when deciding:
  1. The Superliner accessible bedroom has smaller windows than other rooms. The window is above the center of the bed, so there's a limited angle of visibility when lying in bed.
  2. There is no seat available when the lower bunk is made up. You would have to sit on the bed.
There is another small window above the toilet on the opposite side of the car.
 

PVD

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The beds are much lower. I can't give you a measure. But my wheelchair wheels are 24 inches and the bed is lower than the top of the wheels. I looked but couldn't find any pictures to get a better idea. I think the bed is lower than an ADA toilet because my feet reach the ground on the train and dangle from ADA toilets.

The aisle to the accessible room is wide enough. The other aisles are narrower but I think they are barely wide enough for the walker. I taught my mother to use a walker turned sideways, with her body in the center and using both hands on the part in front of her for narrow places. It took her some practice. Mostly we used it when restaurants had stacked a bunch of stuff like baby chairs in the aisle on the way to restrooms. She also used it sideways on stairs, said it was easier.

There are a couple of options for the bed. I'm assuming sitting down is not a problem, it is getting back up? Again, these take some practice.

If she is strong, tie a rope with a series of handles (like a hand-sized ladder) to the upper bunk. There is a harness up there to keep people from falling out that is strong enough for an anchor. For that matter, you could also rig something like a boatswain's chair on a pulley to the upper bunk. It wouldn't have to be that fancy. The big thing is there is not that much space between the upper and lower bunks.

Then there is what I rigged to get my mother up without help when she landed on the ground now and then. I carried an inflatable ball and 12v/battery pump. We would slide a flat ball under her, then inflate it. The ball had a bicycle valve so I could screw on the pump. From there she could slide over into the side of my van. A square shaped ball would have been easier, it took a lot of concentration and cooperation to keep her from losing her balance and rolling off. You could try something like that for getting up from the bed, perhaps an old innertube.

Hopefully someone knows the actual measures, or someone taking a trip soon will pack a tape measure and post here. I see you are a guest. There are some forums where people post trips they are planning that you can't see yet. When you can, you can PM people taking trips soon and ask them to measure things for you.

Where does the relative live (city)? Then we'd know whether she'll be starting with a Viewliner or Superliner and have better advice. Also, she should reserve the accessible room, she'll find it a lot more comfortable. Specifically, the toilet is a little higher (but not 30 inches!) and has grab bars.
My mom had 2 walkers, a full width one that she used walking outside, and a skinny one that was great for aisles...both folded for transport
 
B

Bill T.

Guest
Two things you should be aware of when deciding:
  1. The Superliner accessible bedroom has smaller windows than other rooms. The window is above the center of the bed, so there's a limited angle of visibility when lying in bed.
  2. There is no seat available when the lower bunk is made up. You would have to sit on the bed.
There is another small window above the toilet on the opposite side of the car.
Thanks. We definitely want to look out the windows while in the bed. That's the whole point of the trip, to get out and see things. So maybe we'll avoid the accessible bedroom. Really there's probably not that much about the accessible bedroom that helps her since she's not in a wheelchair. 2nd floor bedroom might even be worth it if she just stays there for the entire trip...will be very hard to get up stairs but worth for the extra view maybe.
 

Alice

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Emeryville will be Superliners.

Thanks for the additional info. The inflatable bed sounds like a good idea. Get one with ties or other structure inside so when she lowers herself to it, she doesn't go straight to bottomed out.

Sporting goods stores also have a whole slew of small and lightweight sleeping mat contraptions including self-inflating and non-inflating that might be worth a check. I find self-inflating to be firmer than just inflating. If your relative could easily sit on a smaller (seat-sized instead of bed-sized) and taller surface, then transfer to the lower bed mattress, you'd save some luggage space. As I recall, the Berkeley REI has a good selection in stock you could try. They have been very accommodating when I want to try out a whole bunch of things.

The bed converts into seats by sliding the seat toward the wall and the back up (they are connected). So you might find other daytime options.

The shower is not accessible. There is a tiny door to a dressing room, which leads over a sill and through a glass door to the tiny stall. Most of the stalls have grab bars but not all. She should take a look but I have an idea she would have trouble getting undressed and dressed in there. Maybe pack an over-the-head garment suitable for wearing in public? There is a sink and washcloths in the accessible roomette. I think it even has hot water, not positive about that, so sponge bath is backup. Take shower at long stop to avoid being thrown around.

Joelkfla mentioned the small windows and I concur. You pretty much have to press your face against the glass, otherwise it is just things flying past with no chance to absorb them. If your relative is at all able, climb the stairs and sit in the lounge. Some of the seats would be easy to slouch in. If stairs are not feasible, consider taping a camera to the window with the feed going to a tablet. It also helps to have other relevant things to look at, like gps, maps, route guide ...

Take a power strip and 12 foot extension cord. The Superliner ADA room has two single plugs, one at the end of the bed and one near the sink. I do not recall if 2-prong or 3-prong, anyone know?

Access questions are not uncommon here. We want to know what you do, how it worked, how the trip went, whether your relative caught the train bug. And of course, we want food photos and descriptions of how rotten it was (speaking cynically).
 
B

Bill T.

Guest
Emeryville will be Superliners.

Thanks for the additional info. The inflatable bed sounds like a good idea. Get one with ties or other structure inside so when she lowers herself to it, she doesn't go straight to bottomed out.

Sporting goods stores also have a whole slew of small and lightweight sleeping mat contraptions including self-inflating and non-inflating that might be worth a check. I find self-inflating to be firmer than just inflating. If your relative could easily sit on a smaller (seat-sized instead of bed-sized) and taller surface, then transfer to the lower bed mattress, you'd save some luggage space. As I recall, the Berkeley REI has a good selection in stock you could try. They have been very accommodating when I want to try out a whole bunch of things.

The bed converts into seats by sliding the seat toward the wall and the back up (they are connected). So you might find other daytime options.

The shower is not accessible. There is a tiny door to a dressing room, which leads over a sill and through a glass door to the tiny stall. Most of the stalls have grab bars but not all. She should take a look but I have an idea she would have trouble getting undressed and dressed in there. Maybe pack an over-the-head garment suitable for wearing in public? There is a sink and washcloths in the accessible roomette. I think it even has hot water, not positive about that, so sponge bath is backup. Take shower at long stop to avoid being thrown around.

Joelkfla mentioned the small windows and I concur. You pretty much have to press your face against the glass, otherwise it is just things flying past with no chance to absorb them. If your relative is at all able, climb the stairs and sit in the lounge. Some of the seats would be easy to slouch in. If stairs are not feasible, consider taping a camera to the window with the feed going to a tablet. It also helps to have other relevant things to look at, like gps, maps, route guide ...

Take a power strip and 12 foot extension cord. The Superliner ADA room has two single plugs, one at the end of the bed and one near the sink. I do not recall if 2-prong or 3-prong, anyone know?

Access questions are not uncommon here. We want to know what you do, how it worked, how the trip went, whether your relative caught the train bug. And of course, we want food photos and descriptions of how rotten it was (speaking cynically).
Haha. Yes if we make it, I'll post a complete rundown and photos. Why not?

I'm actually rather tempted to get 2 roomettes, since the beds are right up against the glass of the window. Somewhat better view that way. She'd like to see mountains.

Sitting in the lounge is a no-go. Sitting doesn't happen at all, ever. Imagine not sitting for 10 years! That's how it is for her. Lying down or standing only. She can stand with her walker for 30 minutes at a time, although I do admit being a bit worried that if she's standing in the lounge car for example looking out the window, a bump or sway could knock her over.

We shall see if we can make it work.
 

Dakota 400

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I do admit being a bit worried that if she's standing in the lounge car for example looking out the window, a bump or sway could knock her over.
Yes, that ought to be a concern. I am not the most stable person anymore at times, but I don't need a walker. When the road bed is rough, I seek the closest seat to put myself in as quickly as I can.
 

joelkfla

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Haha. Yes if we make it, I'll post a complete rundown and photos. Why not?

I'm actually rather tempted to get 2 roomettes, since the beds are right up against the glass of the window. Somewhat better view that way. She'd like to see mountains.

Sitting in the lounge is a no-go. Sitting doesn't happen at all, ever. Imagine not sitting for 10 years! That's how it is for her. Lying down or standing only. She can stand with her walker for 30 minutes at a time, although I do admit being a bit worried that if she's standing in the lounge car for example looking out the window, a bump or sway could knock her over.

We shall see if we can make it work.
I was thinking of suggesting the opposing roomettes, but it occurred to me that there is so little space with the bunks made up that she might have trouble getting into and out of bed without the door open and certain body parts protruding into the hallway. (Sorry, I couldn't think of a way to state it delicately.) OTOH, you wouldn't need to lower the upper bunk, so you'd have more vertical space to work with. Not knowing her exact physical abilities and limitations, it's hard to say.

I do like the view from the bed in a roomette. And you would have a seat, albeit across the hall.
 

Alice

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If you get two regular roomettes, get them across the hall from each other so you have both sides, like Joelkfla says. However, you might do better with the accessible room (it is priced like a roomette for people who need its amenities, like a bedroom for everyone else) and another downstairs roomette. Downside: smaller windows; upside: toilet with grab bars and sink in the room.

Will she need your help overnight or would she rather not have you fussing over her? Does she have help at home? If she doesn't have help at home, I may be over-thinking this, she'll just figure things out after she sees what is available.

Walking to the lounge car and leaning or perching on a seatback might work, you could scope it out ahead. The Zephyr has some scenery that is really fabulous up there, where the tracks are in a wonderfully colored narrow canyon. There are a couple of couch-like seats you might be able to snag. See photo of lounge car windows. If you go this route, she should only move between cars when stopped, at least the first time. The vestibule can be a challenge. This is no place for a walker because then you have six feet to keep track of on a pieced together floor (like the end of an escalator) instead of just two.

As for falling over while walking, every lap I've landed in on a train has belonged to a friendly person. I behave myself and stay seated after one fall per trip, though.
DSC03252.JPG
 

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gwolfdog

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Mar 27, 2020
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The beds are much lower. I can't give you a measure. But my wheelchair wheels are 24 inches and the bed is lower than the top of the wheels. I looked but couldn't find any pictures to get a better idea. I think the bed is lower than an ADA toilet because my feet reach the ground on the train and dangle from ADA toilets.

The aisle to the accessible room is wide enough. The other aisles are narrower but I think they are barely wide enough for the walker. I taught my mother to use a walker turned sideways, with her body in the center and using both hands on the part in front of her for narrow places. It took her some practice. Mostly we used it when restaurants had stacked a bunch of stuff like baby chairs in the aisle on the way to restrooms. She also used it sideways on stairs, said it was easier.

There are a couple of options for the bed. I'm assuming sitting down is not a problem, it is getting back up? Again, these take some practice.

If she is strong, tie a rope with a series of handles (like a hand-sized ladder) to the upper bunk. There is a harness up there to keep people from falling out that is strong enough for an anchor. For that matter, you could also rig something like a boatswain's chair on a pulley to the upper bunk. It wouldn't have to be that fancy. The big thing is there is not that much space between the upper and lower bunks.

Then there is what I rigged to get my mother up without help when she landed on the ground now and then. I carried an inflatable ball and 12v/battery pump. We would slide a flat ball under her, then inflate it. The ball had a bicycle valve so I could screw on the pump. From there she could slide over into the side of my van. A square shaped ball would have been easier, it took a lot of concentration and cooperation to keep her from losing her balance and rolling off. You could try something like that for getting up from the bed, perhaps an old innertube.

Hopefully someone knows the actual measures, or someone taking a trip soon will pack a tape measure and post here. I see you are a guest. There are some forums where people post trips they are planning that you can't see yet. When you can, you can PM people taking trips soon and ask them to measure things for you.

Where does the relative live (city)? Then we'd know whether she'll be starting with a Viewliner or Superliner and have better advice. Also, she should reserve the accessible room, she'll find it a lot more comfortable. Specifically, the toilet is a little higher (but not 30 inches!) and has grab bars.
I had no trouble with the lower bunk going down on the Auto train last year in WC Room. I have trouble standing, (plane seats are difficult) my wife might have put out a hand to help me into chair. The toilet was low (usually use an insert) but again made it off and didn't drink much that trip. Wouldn't do it cross country but for one night, "It is what it is". WC fit through Isles, so walker might also. Another option is to use a Amtrak Transfer Chair and avoid, possible falls.
 

me_little_me

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I had no trouble with the lower bunk going down on the Auto train last year in WC Room. I have trouble standing, (plane seats are difficult) my wife might have put out a hand to help me into chair. The toilet was low (usually use an insert) but again made it off and didn't drink much that trip. Wouldn't do it cross country but for one night, "It is what it is". WC fit through Isles, so walker might also. Another option is to use a Amtrak Transfer Chair and avoid, possible falls.
WC has a different meaning outside the U.S. so "WC fit through Isles[sic]" could make one think of you doing really weird things.
 

gwolfdog

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WC has a different meaning outside the U.S. so "WC fit through Isles[sic]" could make one think of you doing really weird things.
Please explain. I would of asked earlier but I was playing Cornhole with some guys outside.. As long as my fellow Gimps know what WC means I'm OK.
 

gwolfdog

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Thanks, but disappointed. I thought it was a lot sleazier than that. I will use the Politically Correct (PC) less offensive term Accessible Room in the future.;)😷
 

Devil's Advocate

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We definitely want to look out the windows while in the bed. That's the whole point of the trip, to get out and see things. So maybe we'll avoid the accessible bedroom. Really there's probably not that much about the accessible bedroom that helps her since she's not in a wheelchair. 2nd floor bedroom might even be worth it if she just stays there for the entire trip...will be very hard to get up stairs but worth for the extra view maybe.
I cannot imagine how your relative is going to navigate the tight winding stairwell based on what you've already told us. If your relative struggles with being driven or flown somewhere then riding Amtrak will also be a serious struggle. I suggest you take your own trip and scope it out first as I'm afraid this thread may be giving unrealistic advice.
 
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gwolfdog

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I cannot imagine how your relative is going to navigate the tight winding stairwell based on what you've already told us. If your relative struggles with being driven or flown somewhere then riding Amtrak will also be a serious struggle. I suggest you take your own trip and scope it out first as I'm afraid this thread may be giving unrealistic advice.
I agree. I use a Transport chair to get on plane, then carefully wobble down the isles and struggle to get up to get off the plane. I can use a Walker around the house. If I were doing the train again, I'd use the transport chair service to get on and off, and the Accessible Roomette with Toilet, for safety. If she just uses the Walker for balance and has good strength in her legs, I don't get the plane difficulties. Never looked at 2nd floor. Spiral Stairway? They'd have to pull me up with Ropes.
 

Dakota 400

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I cannot imagine how your relative is going to navigate the tight winding stairwell based on what you've already told us.
Your advice to the OP is spot on. The stairs on the Superliner sleepers can be a challenge for people in good physical condition, particularly when the train is traveling at a high speed.
 

Alice

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Bill, if you are still reading this, I suggest you catch the Zephyr or Starlight from Emeryville to Martinez or Sacramento or something like that in a sleeper, then take the Cap Corridor or San Joaquin back to your car. Also check out the coach seats on the trip, they might recline enough for your relative. The $100 or so fare is ridiculous for such a short distance but could be well worth it. The Zephyr would be during breakfast so you could check out food, too. Interrogate the sleeping car attendant (and tip accordingly) about things like converting the seats to a bed. Take the relative if she wants, Martinez is around 45 minutes, if you book to SAC and it isn't working, just get off early. Note that sleeper fare for two people is one sleeper plus two coaches, approximately.
 

me_little_me

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I cannot imagine how your relative is going to navigate the tight winding stairwell based on what you've already told us. If your relative struggles with being driven or flown somewhere then riding Amtrak will also be a serious struggle. I suggest you take your own trip and scope it out first as I'm afraid this thread may be giving unrealistic advice.
I think you missed her problem - SHE CAN'T SIT! She can walk and lie down but not SIT!

You can't walk all the time on a plane and not at all in a car. Also, lying down in either is impossible except on a few selected flights in First Class - mostly, if not exclusively, international.
 
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