Bionic Bus Passenger Guide

Bionic Bus Passenger Information Guide

Image of Bionic Bus

Bionic Line: (319) 335-7595  |  Bionic Fax: (319) 335-6647  |  Bionic Email: bionic-bus@uiowa.edu

Updated: June 2018
 

Introduction

Operated by Cambus, the Bionic Bus system is The University of Iowa’s specialized transportation service for persons with disabilities. It is a demand-response, curb-to-curb service designed to serve the needs of University students, faculty, and staff within most areas of Iowa City and Coralville.

The goal of the Bionic Bus system is to provide effective transportation to eligible riders within the University community. Though the system is utilized and shared by several passengers, we strive to do our best in being responsive to the needs of each individual. We hope to assist in making the University experience fulfilling for all of our passengers.

The purpose of this guide is to provide a detailed explanation of what the Bionic Bus system offers, so that you know what to expect from our service. Also outlined are procedures for scheduling, riding, and what your responsibilities as a passenger are.

Your feedback is very important to us. If you have any comments or suggestions for how we may improve, please let us know. The best way would be to send an e-mail (bionic-bus@uiowa.edu) to the Bionic Supervisor.
 

Hours of Operation

The Bionic Bus runs seven days a week on the following schedule. The times vary depending on the university’s academic session. The Bionic schedule is set to reflect the hours of operation that fixed CAMBUS routes operate. See the online CAMBUS Service Calendar to determine what type of service is being operated on a particular day.

Academic Fall and Spring Monday – Friday: 6:30 a.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
 
Academic Summer, Interim or academic breaks Monday – Friday: 6:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m
Holidays CAMBUS and the Bionic Bus do not operate on most university holidays or may be altered. Service before or after a holiday may be altered. See the service calendar for details.
Safe Ride Most Fridays and Saturdays during Fall and Spring academic sessions, CAMBUS offers a Red and Blue Route that operates until 2:15 a.m. On these nights, Bionic will be able to provide service on a call-in basis only.

 

Service Boundaries

Bionic will serve areas within our boundaries:

North: Interstate-80 (including the Research Park campus)

South: Highway 1 and Highway 6

East: 1st Avenue-Iowa City

West: Highway 218 and Camp Cardinal Blvd/22nd Ave-Coralville

View a map of the Bionic Bus service area.

If a destination is within a ¾ mile distance of a University facility served by the fixed route service, it will be eligible for Bionic service. For any ride that is outside of the Bionic service boundaries, please contact Johnson County SEATS (319-339-6128), as they serve the entirety of Iowa City, Coralville and Johnson County.
 

Fare

Just as with Cambus fixed-route service, there is no fare to ride the Bionic Bus.
 

Determination of Eligibility and Certification Process

To be able to utilize the Bionic Bus system, you must obtain a “Certification of Eligibility” as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During the process of certifying ADA eligibility, a person will be granted temporary eligibility to use the Bionic service for up to 21 days. The Bionic Supervisor and Cambus Manager will determine eligibility. Decisions may be made in conjunction with the Faculty and Staff Disability Services or with your health care provider. All information remains confidential. Eligibility will be granted to individuals with qualifying permanent or temporary disabilities. 

If you are determined to be eligible for service, your eligibility will be for one of the following:

Conditional Eligibility: You are able to use fixed route service for some of your trips, but qualify for Bionic service for other trips.

Unconditional Eligibility: You are unable to use the fixed route service and you qualify for Bionic service for all of your trips.

Temporary Eligibility: You have a health condition or disability that temporarily prevents you from using the fixed route service, or due to seasonal weather constraints (e.g. winter months). 

The Faculty and Staff Disability Services provide a number of useful services to persons with disabilities. In addition, they may be able to assist you in completing ADA accommodation requests, if needed. All passengers are strongly encouraged to register with their respective office.

Student Disability Services: 319-335-1462   
Faculty and Staff Disability Services: 319-335-2660

Since these offices usually keep medical information relating to your disabilities, it is not necessary to provide CAMBUS with the same information if you have successfully completed registration with either office. However, if you are not registered, then your health care provider’s information is necessary for us to complete certification.

University affiliation (student, faculty, or staff status) is also necessary for the Bionic Bus to be your primary provider for transportation. All other members of the general public should use
Johnson County SEATS as their primary provider if they are eligible for service under the ADA.

To complete the certification process, a prospective rider may either email the Bionic Supervisor bionic-bus@uiowa.edu or call the Bionic office 319-335-7595, or contact their respective disability services office.
 

Renewing Certification

All Bionic passengers must periodically renew their certification in order to remain eligible for service. For University students, certification is valid for one year. For University faculty and staff, certification is valid for three years. This is necessary to ensure that Cambus and Bionic
Bus records are as up-to-date as possible, which helps in providing the appropriate service to meet everyone’s needs.

Appeal of Certification Denial

If the application for certification is denied, the applicant for Bionic services will receive written notice detailing the reason for ineligibility. The Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor will make every attempt to follow up with an individual to gain more information if the information provided on their application is incomplete and/or would result in a decision of ineligibility. If an individual wishes to appeal a denial of eligibility or the category of certification given, they must make a written request for appeal with the CAMBUS Manager within 60 calendar days of the written notification of determination.

The letter should state that the applicant is appealing the determination and why they believe they should be eligible for ADA Paratransit (Bionic) service. Copies of any pertinent information should be attached. The CAMBUS Manager, in consultation with the relevant University Disability Service office, will evaluate the information provided to reassess an individual’s eligibility. Applicants will be notified, in writing, of the appeal decision. If denied, the notification will include the reason for ineligibility. Bionic service will not be provided during the appeal process, unless it cannot be concluded within 30 days after receipt of the appeal. If the process exceeds 30 days, the applicant will be considered “presumptively eligible” and will be provided service until a decision is issued.

Appeals must be in writing and forwarded to:    

CAMBUS Manager 
The University of Iowa
West Campus Transportation Center 
840 Evashevski Drive
Iowa City, Iowa  52242
 

Scheduling Rides

All rides are scheduled regardless of trip purpose. The Bionic Bus is a shared-ride service. This is based on the principle that several members of the University community rely on the Bionic Bus to meet their transportation needs. Although you may not have other passengers riding with you for many of your rides, please be mindful that others are riding before and after you. It is helpful for everyone to be flexible in order to best meet the needs of everyone.

Excessively Long Trips

Excessively long trips are defined as in-vehicle travel time that exceeds comparable travel time using the available fixed route services. Wait time is not applicable as Bionic does not use a time range in scheduling trips. For on-campus rides, travel time should typically be 15 minutes, but never exceed 30 minutes. These are the travel times experienced by the riders of the fixed-route services. For off-campus rides, travel time should typically be 20 minutes, but never exceed 60 minutes (such as for a crosstown trip). Again, these are the travel times experienced by the riders of the fixed-route services.

The Bionic Supervisor will evaluate travel times when scheduling subscription service (“permanent rides”) to avoid excessively long trips. The Supervisor will also monitor, on a weekly basis, travel times scheduled by the Dispatchers for “call-in” rides. Rides which exceed the parameters will be documented and corrective action will be taken to avoid repeated scheduling of excessively long trips.

Bionic does its best to avoid keeping a passenger on the bus for overly long periods. It is rare when a trip would be considered excessively long. This of course depends on several factors (ride requests, distance from campus, etc.). Riders are encouraged to contact the Bionic Supervisor if they feel a scheduled trip(s) is excessively long in comparison to a comparable fixed route trip.

How Can Rides Be Scheduled

Rides can be scheduled in two ways and are outlined below. “Call-in Rides” are scheduled by calling the Cambus Dispatcher or by emailing the Bionic Supervisor. The Dispatcher can schedule rides for same day up to seven days in advance. They will forward ride requests beyond seven days to the Bionic Supervisor for scheduling. “Permanent Rides” (known as subscription service) are long-term rides scheduled by the Bionic Supervisor. 

Call-In Rides

Call-in rides are made by contacting the Cambus Dispatcher by telephone. To schedule a ride on a call-in basis, the Dispatcher can be reached by calling the Bionic line at 335-7595. The phone is staffed during normal Bionic operating hours (shown on page 2) with only a few exceptions. The dispatcher will have the current week’s schedules in front of them, and by Thursday evenings, will have the following week’s schedules as well. The Dispatcher can schedule your ride requests that fall within this time period. Ride requests that that exceed the schedules available to the Dispatcher (7 days) will be recorded by the Dispatcher and then be forwarded to the Bionic Supervisor. The Bionic Supervisor will then contact you regarding the status of your ride requests. It is also an option, and often more convenient, to email the Bionic Supervisor with your requests that are several days in advance (bionic-bus@uiowa.edu).
 

The following are tips to make the call-in scheduling smoother.

  1. Have the following information ready at the time that you call.
    Your name
    Date of the trip
    Time to be picked up or time needed to be dropped off (choose one, but not both)
    Specific locations of the pick-up and drop-off
    If a companion or personal care attendant will be riding with you.
  2. Have any information for a return ride as well. This is the passenger’s responsibility to schedule.
  3. Keep the phone call short. If your information is not complete when you call, scheduling errors are more likely.
    Keep in mind that the dispatchers are also responsible for three other department phone lines, the CAMBUS radio, and monitoring fixed-route service. When scheduling rides, it is best to avoid peak rush-hour times on the phone. If the dispatcher asks you to call back, please be understanding because they are likely very busy at that given moment.
  4. Be aware that all ride requests are subject to bus availability. The dispatchers are as accommodating as possible, but there isn’t always room in the schedules at the time you request. The more flexible you are, the more likely you will be able to schedule a ride.
  5. Have a pen/pencil and paper handy to write down the dispatcher’s name, and time of your rides.

Note: If you have sent in a ride request by email, be sure to allow plenty of time for the request to be filled. Please be aware that the Bionic Supervisor is the only one with access to the Bionic email, and will generally only be checking for emails during weekdays. Immediate changes or requests should not be done by email, as they are unlikely to be viewed in time. Please call the dispatcher on the Bionic line (319-335-7595) to make immediate requests.
 

Ride Spacing Policy

Due to scheduling constraints, it is necessary to require at least 30 minutes between a passenger’s drop-off and their next scheduled pick-up. The reason for this is because Bionic needs to allow space between rides in order to be able to accommodate ride requests from other passengers. 

Dispatcher Availability

Dispatchers are normally available at the Bionic phone line when the Bionic service is operating. The following are the times where the dispatcher will not be available during Bionic operating hours. The dispatcher is always available during normal business hours: 8AM-6PM, Monday-Friday and 8:30AM-6PM Saturdays and Sundays. In the case of an emergency, riders should contact UI Public Safety at 335-5022. They will then contact the appropriate parties.

Weekday Mornings

The dispatcher is available as early as 4:15am. Until around 7:00-7:30am, however, they will be at the Cambus Maintenance Facility. If there is no answer on the regular Bionic line, please call 335-5208.

Late Nights

Bionic will provide service until 1:00am when there is no Safe Ride service.
However, the dispatcher will leave the Cambus Office at 12:30am. If you need a same-day call-in ride late at night, be sure to call before 12:30am.

Interim Sundays & Holidays

During the few interim weekend days when there is no CAMBUS or Bionic service, there will not be a CAMBUS dispatcher on duty. On the few Sundays and Holidays of each year when there is no Bionic service, but there is service the following day, it is recommended that ride requests be made by the Friday before. If not possible, riders can call the Parking & Transportation Dispatcher to make a ride request:  335-8312.
 

Permanent Rides

A “permanent ride” is a ride that is automatically scheduled at the same time and day, every week, for the entire semester. Permanent rides are a privilege assigned to facilitate rider convenience and to utilize the available service more efficiently. Riders with permanent rides may also call in for additional rides at any time. Any permanent ride requests or changes must be communicated via email or mail.

Requesting Permanent Rides Prior to a Semester

For every change of session within the university, the Bionic Supervisor will create new Bionic Bus schedules. Approximately one month before the start of a new session, the Bionic Supervisor will send out a notice via e-mail or mail (for those who do not have email), notifying all current riders of the upcoming scheduling process. Please note that we will not receive these requests over the telephone. Ride requests must be returned to the Bionic Supervisor by the indicated due date in order to receive priority in scheduling. Any ride requests received after the due date will be considered, but will be fit into the already existing schedule. Once the due date passes, a schedule will be constructed from the requests that will be effective throughout the entire session. Riders will be notified of their finalized permanent schedules, generally by the Thursday before the next session begins.

Requesting Permanent Rides During a Semester

Riders may make changes to their permanent schedule at any time during a session. Again, the preferred method would be to make such a request via e-mail. However, if the change is very simple, you can call the Cambus Office, and if the Bionic Supervisor is not available, you can leave a message with the dispatcher.
 

No-Show Policy

Bionic understands that, for a variety of reasons, riders may occasionally miss scheduled rides or forget to cancel rides they no longer need. Bionic also understands that riders may sometimes miss scheduled trips or be unable to cancel trips in a timely way for reasons that are beyond their control. However, repeatedly missing scheduled trips and/or failing to cancel trips in a timely manner can lead to suspension of service. Last minute cancellations, or “no-shows”, are detrimental to effective operation of the Bionic service and adversely affects the ability to provide service to other passengers. The following information explains the Bionic no-show policy.

Definitions

A “no show” occurs when the vehicle arrives at the pick-up location at the scheduled time, waits the required 5 minutes and the passenger does not board the vehicle.

A late cancellation occurs when a passenger cancels a trip less than one hour before the scheduled pick-up time. This includes cancelling by contacting the dispatcher or by informing the driver upon their arrival.
 

Driver Wait Times

When the vehicle arrives for a pick-up, the driver will wait for at least five minutes past the scheduled pick-up time. Once five minutes has passed, the bus may leave without the passenger. If the schedule permits, the vehicle may wait additional time, but due to schedule constraints, this is not always possible. In the case that a passenger does not show up for a trip, the dispatcher will attempt to contact the passenger to notify them of the no-show, and also to inquire about the status of any rides connected to the ride that was no-showed (in most cases, this means a return ride).
 

Cancellations

If you find that you do not need a ride that you have scheduled (call-in or permanent), you must call the dispatcher to cancel it. We ask that you please cancel your ride as soon as you realize that you do not need it or as far in advance as possible, so that someone else may use your time slot. We allow riders to cancel up to one hour prior to their ride. Any ride that is not cancelled at least one hour prior to the pickup time will be considered a no-show.

Please only schedule rides that you know you will use, and for permanent rides, ones that will be used on a consistent basis.
 

No-Shows or Late Cancellations Due to Bionic Error or Beyond the Riders Control

The Bionic system will not record a no-show or late cancellation that is due to an error by the Bionic system or situations beyond the rider’s control that prevent them from notifying Bionic that the trip cannot be taken.

Examples of Bionic errors include: trips scheduled in error, pickups scheduled at wrong location, bus arriving early or late, driver does not wait the required 5 minutes after the scheduled time.

Examples of situations beyond the rider’s control include:  medical emergency, family emergency, sudden illness or change in condition, appointment that runs unexpectedly late.

Riders should contact the Dispatcher or the Bionic Supervisor when they have a no-show or late cancellation due to circumstances beyond their control.
 

Subsequent Same Day Rides Following a No-Show

When a no-show occurs, the Dispatcher will attempt to contact the rider to notify them of the no-show, and also to inquire about the status of any rides connected to the ride that was no-showed (in most cases, this means a return ride). If the dispatcher’s attempt to contact is unsuccessful, all other rides for that day will not be cancelled, however, a no-show will be recorded if the rider fails to appear for the ride. Therefore, it is in your best interests to contact the Dispatcher as soon as possible after a no-show ride.
 

Suspension Policies for a Pattern or Practice of Excessive No-Shows or Late Cancellations

As state previously, last minute cancellations or “no-shows” are detrimental to effective operation of the Bionic service and adversely affects the ability to provide service to other passengers. Therefore, verified no-shows and late cancellations will be recorded for each rider and evaluated each month.  

A rider may be subject to suspension from service after they meet the following conditions:

  • Have booked 8 or more trips in a calendar month
  • Recorded 3 or more no-shows or late cancels in a calendar month
  • The no-shows or late cancels make up 20% or more of their scheduled trips in a month

A rider will be subject to suspension only if the minimum number of trips scheduled and the minimum number of no-shows or late cancels has been exceeded during a calendar month. The Bionic Supervisor will notify the rider by phone and/or email when they are at minimum one incident from meeting the standard for suspension. All suspension notices will include a reason for the suspension, a copy of this policy, information on disputing no-shows/late cancellations and how to appeal suspensions. The Bionic Supervisor will also attempt to consult with the rider do determine what measures may be taken to mitigate future no-shows/late cancellations.

No-Show Suspensions:  Riders incurring excessive no-shows/late cancellations under this policy are subject to suspension for a reasonable period of time. Repeated violations will cause the length of the suspension to be increased. The following suspension periods shall apply to violations of this policy that occur within the same rolling 12-month period.

First Violation     The rider receives a warning letter.
Second Violation:     The rider receives a 3-day suspension
 Third Violation:     The rider receives a 7-day suspension
 Forth Violation:     The rider receives a 14-day suspension
    Fifth & Subsequent Violations:     The rider receives a 21-day suspension 


Notice of Suspension

The Bionic Supervisor will send a written notice of suspension to riders in violation of this policy. The notice will identify each no-show or late cancellation occurrence. Suspensions will go into effect 10 calendar days from the date of the letter notifying the rider. The notice will advise when the rider on the dates the suspension begins and ends. All suspension notices will include a reason for the suspension, a copy of this policy, information on disputing no-shows/late cancellations and how to appeal suspensions. The Bionic Supervisor will also attempt to consult with the rider do determine what measures may be taken to mitigate future no-shows/late cancellations.
 

Disputing Specific No-Shows or Late Cancellations

Riders wishing to dispute specific no-show or late cancellation instances must do so within 10 days of receiving a suspension letter. They should contact Bionic Supervisor at 335-7595 between 8AM-5PM, Monday-Friday to explain the circumstance and request removal of the no-show or late cancellation. The Bionic Supervisor will rule on their request and the rider will remain eligible for service until the ruling is made.
 

Appeal Process for Suspension of Service

Riders wishing to appeal suspensions under the No-Show policy have the right to file an appeal request. The appeal must be filed with the CAMBUS Manager in writing or by email within 10 business days of receiving the suspension notice. Riders who fail to file an appeal by the required deadline will be subject to suspension as indicated on the suspension notice. 

The CAMBUS Manager will review the appeal and issue a ruling with 10 business days. The rider will remain eligible for service until the appeal is resolved.
 

Policies for Riding the Bus

The Bionic Department, in conjunction with Cambus management and the Department of Parking and Transportation, has formulated a set of policies for riding and for conduct on the Bionic bus. It is recognized that sometimes there will be a need to make an exception to a policy. However, this is limited unusual circumstances, and must be approved by the Bionic Supervisor, or by the Cambus Manager. These policies are intended to promote the safety and protection of you, other passengers, the driver, and all equipment. Failure to comply with these policies may result in refusal of service.
 

Wheelchair Loading and Securement

All Bionic vehicles are low-floor, ramp access. While on the bus, all wheelchairs and mobility devices must be secured with the proper restraints. All buses are designed to meet ADA requirements. However, if your wheelchair does not fit onto the ramp or into the securements provided, please contact the Bionic Supervisor immediately.
 

Seat Belts

Bionic does not require the use of seat belts while riding the bus. If the rider requests, however, the buses are equipped with seat belts on the seats, and all buses have the capability to use lap belts with the wheelchair securement.
 

Mobility Devices

Bionic can only guarantee to accommodate mobility devices that can be accommodated by vehicles that meet all ADA specifications. Wheelchairs and scooters are preferred to have working brakes, and must not have leaking batteries. Gasoline-powered devices are not allowed on the bus.
 

Service Animals

Bionic riders are permitted to bring service animals on the buses. Any trained guide dog, signal dog, or other animal that is individually prepared to work or perform tasks for an individual with disability may travel with the client. Service animals include, but are not limited to those that guide individuals with impaired vision, alert individuals with impaired hearing to an intruder or sounds, provide minimal protection or rescue work, pull a wheelchair or fetch dropped items. Non-service animals may travel on vehicles on a space-available basis, provided that the animal is properly secured on a leash, in a cage or container, and does not jeopardize the health, safety, or the sense of well-being of other passengers or the driver. For reasons of safety, the driver is not permitted to carry cages or containers of non-service animals, or attempt to handle a passenger’s service animal.
 

Medications and Other Medical Needs

Bionic drivers are not required, nor are they trained to administer medical assistance or assist in the administration of medication. Riders with these needs are required to make alternate arrangements to fulfill these needs.

Life Support Equipment
Respirators, portable oxygen, and other life support equipment are permitted aboard the Bionic vehicles. The driver will assist with securing this equipment; however, a driver is not permitted to operate or make adjustments to the tank mechanisms. If you need assistance with portable life support equipment, please arrange to bring a qualified attendant along with you. 
 

Door-to-Door Service

Most Bionic riders utilize the service on a curb-to-curb basis. For those who request it, Bionic can provide door-to-door services when needed. This means that the driver will assist you to and from your door. There are restrictions, however, as to what the drivers may do. Drivers are only required to get the rider in and out of their door. They are not allowed inside the doors of any residence or residency building, nor are they expected to assist in dressing, preparing food or beverages, putting away items, or anything else inside the rider’s door. There are also restrictions on the carrying of personal belongings (see the next section). Drivers are not trained to do such activities, nor are they prepared to accept any liability that could result.
 

Personal Belongings

Drivers may be asked to assist in carrying of a small item for a passenger within reason, but are not required to do this. In the event that a passenger needs assistance in carrying items or bringing non-comforting items on their own, then it is recommended that the passenger have a companion ride along with the assistance of such matters.

In addition, passengers should not plan on bringing items that could compromise the safety of other passengers, or the safe operation of the Bionic vehicle. Bionic is not and shall not be utilized for the sole purpose of moving personal belongings. Our purpose is to take people, not packages, from one place to another.
 

Companions

Riders may bring a companion or attendant along on their ride. There is no fare for companions, and up to two may ride. They must board and exit the bus at the same locations as the rider. To facilitate scheduling, riders should always indicate when another person will be accompanying them, and must indicate if their companion is in a wheelchair, due to limited wheelchair space on each bus. If a particular companion is found to be disruptive on the bus or is impeding service, then they will not be allowed to ride. The bus will also be unable to wait if a companion is late. If this happens, the passenger will either have to ride without the companion, or the ride will be recorded as a no-show.
 

Rider Conduct

Violent, illegal, or seriously disruptive behavior is not allowed on Bionic vehicles. This includes the behavior of all riders, companions, and service animals. Anyone who engages in such behavior will be refused service, or will only be provided service on a conditional basis. Please note that service will not be refused to an individual solely because their disability results in appearance or involuntary behavior that may offend, annoy, or inconvenience the driver or other passengers.

With these policies, please keep in mind that the purpose of the Bionic Bus is to provide transportation to individuals with disabilities. Our mission is to transport passengers safely and to help individuals on and off of the bus. Your cooperation will enable Bionic to provide effective service to everyone who needs it. If there are any questions, comments, or concerns regarding Bionic service, please contact the Bionic Supervisor.
 

Other Contact Information

Cambus Maintenance Facility: 335-5208

Cambus Office (general information): 335-8633

UI Student Disability Services: 335-1462

UI Faculty and Staff Disability Services: 335-0052

UI Parking Department: 335-1475

Johnson County SEATS: 339-6128

Iowa City Transit: 356-5151

Coralville Transit: 248-1790