Bionic Bus Passenger Information Guide

Bionic Bus Passenger Information Guide

Bionic Bus

Bionic Line: (319) 335-7595                             

Bionic Fax: (319) 335-6647

Bionic Email:


The University of Iowa CAMBUS Bionic Para-Transit Policy

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. Passenger 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 Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor.

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


CAMBUS Bionic ADA Paratransit Services Described

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, Bionic strives to be the most responsive and to always meet the needs of each individual. The Bionic staff hopes to assist in making the University experience fulfilling for all of our passengers.


Eligibility & Certification Process

To be able to utilize the Bionic Bus system, prospective passengers must obtain a "Certification of Eligibility" as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During the process of certifying ADA eligibility, an individual will be granted temporary eligibility to use the Bionic service for up to 21 days. Eligibility will be granted to individuals with qualifying permanent or temporary disabilities. Depending on their needs, their eligibility could also be conditional or unconditional. The Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor and CAMBUS Manager will determine eligibility. Decisions may be made in conjunction with the Faculty and Staff Disability Services or with the prospective passenger’s health care provider. All information remains confidential.

The Faculty and Staff Disability Services provide a number of useful services to persons with disabilities. In addition, they may be able to assist with 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 registered individual’s disabilities, it is not necessary to provide CAMBUS with the same information if they have successfully completed registration with either office. However, if a passenger is not registered, then the passenger must submit their health care provider’s information on their application so the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor may complete their certification.

To complete the certification process, a prospective passenger may either email the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor (, call the Bionic office at (319) 335-7595 or their respective disability services office.


Eligibility Status, Eligibility Category & Ineligibility

Upon certification, the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor will determine a passenger’s eligibility status. Depending on a passenger’s disability and information provided on their certification application, this will be permanent or temporary status. Each status will be allowed full scheduling privileges.

Upon certification, the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor will determine a passenger’s eligibility category. Certifications will be based on the criteria below. Certifications may be reassessed or revoked for persons whose eligibility was granted based on information which is inaccurate or which has changed significantly enough to warrant a change in category.

Category 1: Unconditional rider:

The individual is unable to use the fixed-route systems. This means the applicant is unable to board, ride or disembark a CAMBUS fixed-route vehicle and may use CAMBUS Bionic for all trip requests.

Category 2: Conditional rider:

The individual can use fixed-route services sometimes but may require CAMBUS Bionic when the combination of disability and the environment or some other special circumstance creates a barrier to independent use for particular trips. This means that Category 2 riders should utilize CAMBUS fixed-route services whenever they are available.

Ineligibility: Individuals who are not affiliated with the University (student, faculty or staff status) do not qualify for Bionic as their primary transportation provider. 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. Affiliated individuals who live outside of the Bionic service boundaries will not be automatically be denied or deemed ineligible. However, ride requests will only be met if the requested ride falls within the boundaries.


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.

Certified passengers will need to reply to an email sent out by the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor requesting recertification information in a timely manner to avoid a lapse in service due to expiration of eligibility. Prior eligibility does not automatically insure recertification.


Appeal of Eligibility of Certification

An applicant for Bionic services will receive an email or hard copy letter via US Mail that will describe ineligibility details. 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 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 and Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor will evaluate the information provided to reassess an individual’s eligibility. This decision will be the final determination. Bionic service will not be provided during the appeal process, unless the process cannot be concluded within 30 days after receipt of the appeal. If the process exceeds 30 days, service will be provided until concluded.

Appeals must be in writing and forwarded to:

CAMBUS Manager

The University of Iowa

840 Evashevski Drive

Iowa City, IA 52242


Visitors to Campus

Visitors to the University campus with disabilities may utilize CAMBUS Bionic para-transit services for up to 21 days per 365-day period. Visitors must call the CAMBUS dispatcher on the Bionic line to schedule rides and provide necessary information. It is preferred that visitors present documentation (e.g., an ID number or other proof) of eligibility from another transit authority in the United States. Services for visitors are subject to the same scheduling policies and must be within the Bionic service boundaries.


Scheduling Rides

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 passengers may not have other individuals riding on a regular basis, it is best to keep in mind that there are several others riding before and after a passenger’s particular ride. It is necessary for everyone to be flexible so that no passenger’s needs are left unmet. Bionic will do its best to avoid keeping a passenger on the bus for an excessively long trip, it sometimes is possible that the duration of a ride could last up to 60 minutes. This of course depends on several factors (ride requests, distance from campus, etc.)


Call-In Rides

Call-in rides may be scheduled at any time, regardless of trip purpose. To schedule a ride on a call-in basis, the CAMBUS Dispatcher can be reached by calling the Bionic line at (319) 335-7595. The phone is staffed during normal Bionic operating hours 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. Passengers wishing to make ride requests before the schedules are made available to the dispatcher, they may e-mail the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor ( The following are tips to make the call-in scheduling smoother.

1.  Passengers should have the following information ready at the time that they call.

  • Their name
  • Date of the trip
  • Time to be picked up or dropped off (choose one, but not both)
  • Specific locations of the pick-up and drop-off

2. Have any information for a return ride as well. This is the passenger’s responsibility to schedule.

3. Keep the phone call short. Passengers should have complete information when they call to minimize scheduling errors. Passengers should be mindful that the dispatchers are very busy. In addition to the Bionic line, they also are 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. The dispatchers may have to ask passengers to call back at a less busy time. They appreciate the passengers’ understanding.

4. Passengers should be aware that all ride requests are subject to bus availability. The dispatchers are always as accommodating as possible, but there simply isn’t always room in the schedules at the time requested. The more flexible passengers are, the more likely dispatchers will be able to schedule a ride.

5. Passengers should have a pen/pencil and paper handy write down the dispatcher’s name, and time of their rides.

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


Cancellation Policy

Passengers who do not need a ride they have scheduled (call-in or permanent), they must call the dispatcher to cancel it. In order for other passengers to utilize service, Bionic requires that passengers cancel their rides as soon as they realize they do not need them or as far in advance as possible.  CAMBUS Bionic allows passengers 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.

It is important for passengers to only schedule rides that they will actually use, and for permanent rides, ones that will be used on a consistent basis. Passengers should avoid scheduling rides “just in case” as it can potentially take service away from another individual.


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. This is important because Bionic needs to allow space between rides in order to accommodate ride requests from other passengers.


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 arranged via email. 


Requesting Permanent Rides Prior to a Semester

For each and every change of session within the University, the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor will create new Bionic Bus schedules. Approximately one month before the start of a new session, the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor will send out a notice via e-mail or letter (for those who do not have email), notifying all current riders of the upcoming scheduling process.

Please note that the dispatcher will not receive these requests over the telephone. Ride requests must be returned to the Dispatch & 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, passengers can call the CAMBUS Bionic Line, and if the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor is not available, they can leave a message with the dispatcher. 


Dispatcher Availability

Dispatchers are normally available at the Bionic line during normal Bionic operating hours. The following are the times where the dispatcher will not be available during normal operating hours.

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 (319) 335-5208.

Late Nights: Bionic will provide service until 12:30am when there is no Saferide service. If individual should need a same-day call-in ride late at night, it is important to call before midnight.

Interim Weekends: During interim weekend service, there will be no dispatcher on duty. All rides should be scheduled during the week prior to an interim weekend. If an immediate change is necessary, however, the driver must be contacted at the CAMBUS Maintenance Facility at (319) 335-5208. They will be available to answer the phone from 11:30am until 11:50am, and when they are not out providing a ride. In case of an emergency, a rider may contact UI Public Safety at (319) 335-5022, who will then contact the driver over the CAMBUS radio.


Service Area

Bionic will serve areas within our boundaries (Map of Bionic Bus Service 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 Boulevard (22nd Avenue)-Coralville

Businesses along the boundaries will be served by Bionic Bus, such as Hy-Vee or Wal-Mart. The only exception to this rule pertains to the Coral Ridge Mall area in Coralville. Bionic does not have the capability to service the Coral Ridge Mall and the surrounding commercial area on a regular basis. Therefore, Bionic will only service this area on Saturdays and Sundays. Monday through Friday, Coralville Transit services this area, so Bionic will provide a ride downtown so that passengers may connect with one of these buses.

For any ride that is outside of the Bionic service boundaries, please contact Johnson County SEATS at (319) 339-6128 as they serve the entirety of Johnson County.


Days/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 regular CAMBUS routes run. A CAMBUS service calendar is available at

Fall and Spring Academic

Monday-Friday: 6:30am-12:30am

Saturday-Sunday: 12:00pm-12:30am

Summer Academic, Interims and Fall/Winter Breaks

Monday-Friday: 6:30am-12:00am

Saturday-Sunday: 12:00pm-6:00pm

Holidays – CAMBUS and the Bionic Bus do not run on scheduled University holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas (2 days), New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Schedules for other University-recognized holidays are likely to be altered as well.

Saferide – Most Fridays and Saturdays during Fall and Spring academic sessions, CAMBUS offers a Red and Blue Route that run until 2:15am. On these nights, Bionic will be able to provide service on a call-in basis only.



Generally, a "no-show" is when a passenger does not show up for a scheduled ride. However, there are three things that Bionic considers a no-show:

  • A ride that is canceled or moved with less than one hour’s notice.
  • A ride when the passenger does not show up after the bus has arrived.
  • A ride for which the passenger shows up five or more minutes late.

When the bus 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 bus 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 ride, 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).

No-shows will be tracked for each passenger. A ride that is missed, but was beyond the control of the passenger will not be documented as a no-show. Passengers should inform the Dispatch and Bionic Supervisor of any missed trips, and provide explanation, that they believe were missed for reasons beyond their control.


No-Show Consequences & Service Suspensions

No-shows are a serious disruption to Bionic service. It wastes valuable service and usually causes the bus to be late in picking up subsequent riders. Therefore, passengers who have a pattern or practice of no-shows may be suspended for service for a period of time.

A suspension decision and length of suspension will be made on a case-by-case by the CAMBUS Manager and the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor. In general, no-shows will be considered excessive when they approximate 20% of scheduled trips in a month. If a decision is made to suspend service, the individual will be notified in writing, in an accessible format as necessary, citing the reasons for the suspension, the length of the suspension period and details of the appeal process. The individual must appeal the decision at least 7 days prior to the start of the suspension period to prevent a lapse in service. The individual will remain eligible for service during the appeal process.

The goal of this policy is to minimize the number of no-shows, in an effort to minimize waste and disruption of the Bionic services. When an issue arises, the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor will communicate with the rider in an attempt to determine a solution that is workable for both parties.


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 Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor, or by the CAMBUS Manager. These policies are intended to promote the safety and protection of all passengers, the drivers, and all equipment. Failure to comply with these policies may result in refusal of service.



Riders are allowed the privilege of bringing 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.


Mobility Devices & Securement

Bionic can only guarantee to accommodate mobility devices that meet 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.

While on the bus, all wheelchairs and mobility devices must also be secured with the proper restraints. All buses are designed to meet ADA requirements. However, if a wheelchair does not fit onto the ramp or into the securement provided, the passenger should contact the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor immediately.


Seat Belt/Postural Belt Use

Bionic does not require the use of seat belts while riding the bus. Some buses are equipped with seat belts if a passenger wishes to use one.

Postural belts are available upon request. Postural belts aid passengers so they may remain seated in their mobility device in case of an accident. Postural belts are not to be used as seat belts, as they are not attached to the frame of the vehicle and may not fully prevent one from falling out of a wheelchair. It is highly recommended that passengers use the stanchion bars on the bus or hold on to their wheelchair armrests throughout the ride.


Service & Non-Service Animals

Passengers may bring service animals to accompany them on ride(s). According to the DOT ADA Regulations, a service animal means any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.

Other (non-service) animals or pets are not permitted on any CAMBUS.



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


Door-to-Door Service, Driver Assistance, & Personal Care Assistance

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 an individual to and from their door.

There are restrictions as to what the drivers may do. Drivers are only required to get the passenger in and out of their door. They are not allowed inside the doors of any residency or residency building, nor expected to assist in dressing, preparing food or beverages, putting away items, or anything else inside the passenger’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.

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.


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 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.


Rider Conduct/Service Suspension for Violent, Illegal, and/or Seriously Disruptive 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.

Service can be immediately suspended up to 30 days for passengers who engage in violent, illegal, or seriously disruptive conduct.

Those actions included, but not limited to, are:

  • Threats of physical harm to other passengers, drivers, or other personnel
  • Physical assault or battery on other passengers, drivers or other personnel
  • Verbal abuse, intimidation, or altercation with other passengers, drivers or other personnel
  • Unlawful harassment of other passengers, drivers, or other personnel, including but not limited to unwelcome verbal, non-verbal or physical behavior having sexual, racial, or discriminatory connotations
  • Unauthorized use of or willful damage to vehicle equipment
  • Repeatedly violating riding rules, including smoking on the vehicle, defacing equipment or refusing to comply with other service requirements specified in the policies included in this document

Such behavior may be reported to the UI Department of Public Safety or other law enforcement agencies (depending on jurisdiction and location of incident).


Appeal of Service Suspension

Any passenger whose service is suspended for any reason may appeal the decision. If a passenger wishes to appeal a service suspension, they must make a written request for appeal with the CAMBUS Manager. The CAMBUS Manager and appropriate supervisors will assess the situation and items leading up to the suspension, and will seek additional information to determine the outcome decision.

Appeals for no-show service suspension must be received one week before suspension effective date to prevent a lapse in service.

Appeals for passenger misconduct must be received no later than two weeks after the effective date.


Reasonable Modification

CAMBUS will make reasonable modifications/accommodations to policies and practices to ensure accessibility subject to several exceptions. These exceptions include when the modification or accommodation would:

  • Cause a direct threat to the health or safety of others
  • Result in a fundamental alteration of the service
  • Not actually be necessary in order for the individual with a disability to utilize CAMBUS services
  • Result in an undue financial and administrative burden

Reasonable modification simply means that CAMBUS (if requested) will make slight alterations to policies and/or procedures in order to eliminate barriers for passengers for disabilities, so they may fully utilize services. Reasonable modification requests may be submitted via phone by calling the Bionic Line, emailing the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor, or emailing the CAMBUS Manager.


CAMBUS Bionic Rules and Regulations

All CAMBUS vehicle and passenger rules and regulations shall apply to CAMBUS Bionic, unless otherwise specified in this document.


Rider Commendations, Complaints, or Other Correspondence

Your feedback is very important to us. If you wish to submit any commendations, comments, suggestions, or complaints about our service or a particular driver, please let us know. The best way would be to send an e-mail to You may also call the Bionic Line at (319) 335-7595 to speak with the dispatcher, or to leave a message or speak with the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor.


Contact Information

CAMBUS Bionic Line:  (319) 335-7595

CAMBUS Bionic Fax Line:  (319) 335-6647

CAMBUS Maintenance Facility:  (319) 335-5208   

CAMBUS Office (general information):  (319) 335-8633

UI Student Disability Services:  (319) 335-1462

UI Faculty and Staff Disability Services:  (319) 335-0052

UI Parking and Transportation Department:  (319) 335-1475

Johnson County SEATS:  (319) 339-6128

Iowa City Transit:  (319) 356-5151

Coralville Transit:  (319) 248-1790

CAMBUS Manager/Operations Supervisor email:


Review of CAMBUS Bionic Service Policies & Procedures

In order to ensure adherence to the requirements of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA); federal, state, and local law; CAMBUS Bionic Purpose Statement, and the delivery of safe and excellent customer service, this document will be reviewed by the CAMBUS Manger, Operations Supervisor, and the Dispatch & Bionic Supervisor to be updated as needed.