A transport wheelchair is designed for caregivers to push, while manual wheelchairs are designed for the person in the chair to navigate themselves. Transport wheelchairs have four small wheels, while manual wheelchairs have 2 smaller wheels in front and 2 larger wheels in back. The smaller front wheels give the chair good turning radius, while the larger wheels in back provide the propulsion necessary to push yourself while sitting in the chair.

So, which is the best option for you? That depends on personal mobility and if you or a caregiver typically pushes your chair. Transport wheelchairs, also known as travel chairs, are the most common type of chair found in hospitals today.

The biggest differences between manual and transport chairs include:

  • Transport chairs have 4 small tires, while manual chairs have 2 small front tires and 2 larger rear tires.
  • Transport wheelchairs are lighter and narrower for easier navigation between tight spaces.
  • Travel wheelchairs are easier to transport.

Transport Wheelchairs are Lighter & Narrower

Transport chairs are designed to be lightweight so that it’s easy for caretakers to push them without expending a lot of energy. They are also easier to fold up and stick in the back of your car when traveling, or in a closet when not in use. Models tend to be narrower width-wise so they are easier to maneuver through tight hallways or doorways. As transport wheelchairs are commonly used indoors.

How to Find Best Transport Wheelchair for You

There are some super sleek transport wheelchairs on the market, like the Karman S-115 Ergo Transport Wheelchair sporting an “S” shaped seat that’s ergonomically designed to reduce pressure, improve stabilization and weight distribution, as well as reduce the development of pressure sores.

You have a lot of options when shopping for a transport chair. Some important factors to consider include…

The Size of the Seat

Transport wheelchairs come with various seat sizes, and the best option is entirely based on the size of the patient. The most common seat size is a 19” in width, but there are smaller 17” options and larger 22” options available. Try out several options to see which one feels the most comfortable.

The Weight of the Chair 

A lightweight transport chair is ideal, after all it’s meant to be transported. Lower cost models made of steel tend to be on the heavier side, while pricier aluminum transport chairs are lighter.


Brakes lock the chair in place and serve as an important safety feature. Brakes are typically positioned on the rear wheels, but not all brakes are made equally. More affordable models come with the most basic braking system, which might be all you need. If brakes are a concern, you might want to consider a higher quality chair with a more advanced braking system, although it’ll cost you more money. 

Wheels & Handles

The larger and softer the wheels, the smoother the ride in a chair will be. Handles are another thing to consider, some chairs come with handles that are designed for extra comfort. Comfy handles tend to be more important if the same caregiver pushes your chair on a regular basis.

Chair Arms

Some transport chairs have flip back and removable arms. This is an important feature if you have limited mobility and require lateral transfers in and out of the chair, car, etc.

Non-emergency Medical Transportation in Melbourne & Beyond

Speaking of transport wheelchairs, we specialize in non-emergency medical transportation for wheelchair patients of all ages and mobility. All our drivers are trained in senior sensitivity and defensive driving, ensuring the safest and most enjoyable ride in town.  Contact us today to receive a free quote for long distance or local transportation.