Operated by Cambus, the Bionic Bus system is The University of Iowa’s paratransit 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 safe and reliable transportation services 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.

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Request Certification for Bionic Service

Fill out the form and return to CAMBUS to request certification to use the Bionic Bus service.

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Call Bionic

Bionic Phone Line: 319-335-7595

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Email Bionic

Email us at: bionic-bus@uiowa.edu 

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Address

Attn: Bionic Bus
100 West Campus Transportation Center
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Determination of Eligibility and Certification Process

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), riders must be certified to use the Bionic Bus service.  Riders are eligible to become certified to use the service based upon having a temporary or permanent disability that prevents that rider from utilizing fixed-route services. 

Riders who are unable to use the CAMBUS fixed-route system due to a permanent or temporary disability may apply for Bionic Bus service.  Riders may start this process in one of the following ways: 

  • Call the CAMBUS Bionic dispatch line at 319-335-7595.  The dispatcher will record contact information and forward your request for certification to the Bionic supervisor.  The Bionic supervisor will reach out directly to you to complete the certification request process. 

  • Complete a “Request for Certification of ADA Paratransit Eligibility” form and email or mail to the CAMBUS Bionic supervisor. 

  • Email the Bionic Bus supervisor directly to request more information about certification (bionic-bus@uiowa.edu). 

A determination of eligibility will be made within 21 days of receipt of your request form. 

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. All information remains confidential. Eligibility will be granted to individuals with qualifying permanent or temporary disabilities. 

Riders determined to be eligible for Bionic service will receive one of three types of certification to use the service: 

  • Conditional eligibility is granted to riders who are able to use the fixed-route service for some trips, but qualify for Bionic service for other trips. 

  • Unconditional eligibility is granted to riders who unable to use fixed-route services and qualify for Bionic service for all trips. 

  • Temporary eligibility is granted to riders who have a health condition or disability that temporarily prevents that rider from using the fixed-route service, such as an injury. 

Riders who are already certified to ride paratransit services with other transit agencies, such as Johnson County SEATS, are permitted to schedule rides with Bionic Bus in compliance with ADA requirements. Without completing the certification process with CAMBUS, paratransit riders with other agencies are able to schedule rides on Bionic for up to 21 days per year. If riders require more than 21 days of rides per year, they must complete the CAMBUS Bionic certification process. 

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. 

If the application for certification is denied, the applicant for Bionic services will receive written notice detailing the reason for ineligibility. The 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 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 

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. Please click here to visit the Student Disability Services website: https://sds.studentlife.uiowa.edu/ 

  • Faculty and Staff Disability Services: 319-335-2660. Please click here to visit the Faculty and Staff Disability Services website: https://hr.uiowa.edu/fsds 

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. 

Scheduling Rides

CAMBUS Bionic strives to offer convenient and flexible scheduling options to best serve the needs of its riders.  Many members of the university community rely upon the Bionic Bus for some or all of their transportation needs. 

Due to the nature of Bionic service being a shared ride service amongst many individuals with different needs, flexibility in travel plans is sometimes necessary to best balance the needs of everyone using the service.  Your understanding is appreciated as we work to make Bionic service a convenient option for riders. 

Scheduling Rides 
Rides can be scheduled in one of 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 the same day and up to seven days in advance.  “Permanent Rides”, also referred to as subscription service, are long-term reoccurring rides that are scheduled by the Bionic supervisor. 

Call-in rides are made by contacting the CAMBUS dispatcher by telephone.  The Bionic dispatch line is staffed during normal operating hours with only a few exceptions.  The dispatcher is able to schedule rides for the current week.  On Thursdays, dispatchers receive access to the next weeks' schedule. 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). 

Helpful tips for making a scheduling call to the CAMBUS Bionic line
Have the following information ready at the time of your call.  Having all of this information ready at the time of your call will reduce the chance of scheduling errors: 

  • Your name 

  • Date of trip 

  • Time to be picked or time needed to be dropped off.  In order to make the service available for the needs of all our riders, we can only accommodate either a desired pick-up time, or a desired drop-off time. 

  • If a companion or personal care attendant will be riding with you. 

  • Provide information for your next or return ride.  Return rides are the rider’s responsibility to schedule and it is advised to schedule your return ride at the same time as the “going to” ride. 

Be advised that the dispatcher is also responsible for fixed-route service and responding to service needs and  

emergencies, such as accidents.  At times, the dispatcher may request you to call back to schedule your ride.  In this case, please be understanding as we try to balance the many needs of the transit system. 

Dispatchers will try to be as accommodating as possible in scheduling rides.  There may times when the requested pick-up time or drop-off time is not available and the dispatcher will offer the next available times.  Your flexibility and understanding is appreciated. 

Have a pen/pencil and paper handy to write down the dispatcher’s name who took your ride request and the time of your rides scheduled. 

Ride requests by email 
If you send 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 who checks the Bionic email and will generally only be checking for emails during weekdays.  Additionally, the Bionic supervisors works part time and may not always see an email right away.  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 to make immediate requests. 

Dispatchers are generally available at the Bionic phone line when Bionic service is operating.  Please refer to the chart below for when the dispatcher is available and what phone number to use.  In the case of an urgent need when the Bionic line is not available, riders should contact UI Public Safety at 319-335-5022.  They will then contact the appropriate parties. 

WEEKDAYS

Time period 

Available phone line 

4:15 a.m. - 7:00 a.m. 

319-335-5208 
The dispatcher will be the CAMBUS Maintenance Facility at this time 

7:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. 

319-335-7595 
the dispatcher will be available at the CAMBUS Office and can be reached at the Bionic line 

 

Weekends during fall and spring academic session

Time period 

Available phone line 

8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. 

319-335-5208 
The dispatcher will be the CAMBUS Maintenance Facility at this time 

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. 

319-335-7595 
the dispatcher will be available at the CAMBUS Office and can be reached at the Bionic line 

 

 

weekends during summer break

Time period 

Available phone line 

11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 

319-335-5208 
The dispatcher will be the CAMBUS Maintenance Facility at this time 

 

12:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

319-335-7595 
the dispatcher will be available at the CAMBUS Office and can be reached at the Bionic line 

 

 

Break Sundays and 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: (319) 335-8312. 

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. 

Due to scheduling constraints, it is necessary to require 1 hour 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. 

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. 

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 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. 

Rider Policies

The below policies are put in place to ensure a safe and comfortable experience for our riders.  These policies are intended to promote the safety and protection of you, other riders, the driver, and all equipment.  Failure to abide by these policies may result in refusal of service.

It is recognized that sometimes there will be a need to make an exception to a policy.  Riders needing an exception to a policy should contact the Bionic supervisor in advance to arrange for such.  It is not at the discretion of drivers to approve policy exceptions.

Rider Policies

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. If your wheelchair does not fit onto the ramp or into the securements provided, please contact the Bionic Supervisor.

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.

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.

Bionic riders are permitted to bring service animals on the buses. Service animals are defined as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.” 

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.

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.

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. Drivers 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.  Where a building has multiple exterior doorways, drivers will assist a rider from the first exterior door.

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.

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.

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, website

UI Faculty and Staff Disability Services: 335-0052, website

UI Parking Department: 335-1475, website

Johnson County SEATS: 339-6128

Iowa City Transit: 356-5151, website

Coralville Transit: 248-1790, website