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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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 university community members rely upon the Bionic Bus for some or all of their transportation needs.

Bionic Bus is a shared ride service amongst many individuals with different needs. Flexibility in travel plans is sometimes necessary to best accommodate everyone using the service. Your understanding is appreciated as we work to make Bionic Bus a convenient service option for all riders.

Scheduling Rides 

Rides can be scheduled in several different ways:

  • Call-in rides” are scheduled by calling the CAMBUS dispatcher. The dispatcher can schedule rides for the same day and up to ten days in advance.  
  • Permanent Rides,” also called subscription service, are long-term reoccurring rides that are automatically scheduled daily, weekly, or otherwise on a schedule. The bionic bus supervisor processes requests for permanent rides. Riders can request permanent rides by emailing bionic-bus@uiowa.edu.
  • Email – riders may contact the bionic bus supervisor to request rides. Please note that the bionic bus supervisor works part-time, and the Bionic Bus email is not checked every day. If trying to schedule or cancel a ride less than seven days in advance, riders should use the CAMBUS Now app or contact the CAMBUS dispatcher by phone.
  • CAMBUS Now mobile app – Riders can request and cancel rides through the CAMBUS Now mobile app. Riders can request rides between 48 hours to 10 days in advance. To request a ride with less than 48 hours' notice, please contact the CAMBUS dispatcher by phone.

CAMBUS makes every effort to accommodate same-day ride requests. However, same-day ride requests are not guaranteed, and there may not be room in the schedule to accommodate a same-day ride request. Riders are encouraged to make ride requests in advance.

To maximize the efficiency of the service and accommodate as many rides as possible, CAMBUS uses a pick-up window with all scheduled rides.

How pick-up windows work

All ride requests are scheduled with a 10-minute pick-up window. The window begins 5 minutes before the requested pick-up time and ends 5 minutes after the requested pick-up time. Riders are expected to be ready for their ride when the bus arrives within the 10-minute pick-up window. 

For example, if a ride is requested at 10:30 a.m., the pick-up window will be 10:25 a.m. – 10:35 a.m.

The bionic scheduling system provides an estimated pick-up time within the window when the ride is confirmed. The estimated pick-up time may change within that window based on other scheduled rides. Riders can verify their up-to-date estimated pick-up time in the CAMBUS Now mobile app or by calling CAMBUS dispatch.

Call-in rides are made by contacting the CAMBUS dispatcher by telephone. The dispatcher can schedule rides up to 10 days in advance.   The Bionic dispatch line is staffed during normal operating hours with only a few exceptions.

Riders wishing to schedule a ride beyond ten days in advance should either call back within the 10-day window or email the bionic bus supervisor with your request. The bionic bus supervisor will contact you regarding the status of your ride request.

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 will reduce the chance of scheduling errors: 

  • Your name 
  • Date of trip 
  • Time to be picked up or time needed to be dropped off. 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. Sometimes, the dispatcher may request that you 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 be as accommodating as possible in scheduling rides. There may be times when the requested pick-up or drop-off time is unavailable, 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.

Riders will receive an email confirming the details of the ride after it is scheduled. Riders should call CAMBUS dispatch if they notice any errors in their trip details.

Bionic riders may use the CAMBUS Now mobile app for their Bionic Bus needs. The mobile app has many features, including:

  • Ability to schedule and cancel rides
  • Riders can see upcoming confirmed rides
  • Notifications of ride status, including when the bus is approaching

Setting up an account

For riders who already have an account in CAMBUS Now: inform CAMBUS that you already have a CAMBUS Now account, and CAMBUS will add you to the Bionic riders group. The Bionic riders group allows you to schedule on the Bionic Bus system.

For riders who do not already have a CAMBUS Now account: the first time a Bionic Bus rider schedules a ride, CAMBUS will set up an account in CAMBUS Now. Riders can choose to use the mobile app or not use it. An account in the system, whether the rider uses the app or not, is necessary to schedule rides.

Using the app

Bionic Bus riders should refer to the CAMBUS Now user guide. For questions about using the app, call CAMBUS dispatch or email bionic-bus@uiowa.edu.

View the CAMBUS Now app user guide

Rider notifications

Bionic Bus riders will receive the following notifications: email, push notifications with the CAMBUS Now app, or text SMS.


If rider has the CAMBUS Now app

If rider does not have the CAMBUS Now app

Dispatch schedules a Bionic ride for a rider

Rider receives an email confirmation

Rider receives an email confirmation

Scheduling software automatically schedules a permanent, reoccurring ride

Rider receives an email confirmation

Rider receives an email confirmation

Rider schedules a Bionic ride in the CAMBUS Now app

Rider receives push notification in app


Ride request is rejected due to no drivers available or schedules are full

Rider receives push notification in app

Rider receives SMS text

Vehicle is arriving at the pick-up location

Rider receives push notification in app

Rider receives SMS text

Vehicle is arriving 5 or more minutes after the 10-minute pick-up window Rider receives push notification in app Rider receives SMS text

Dispatch cancels a ride

Rider receives an email confirmation

Rider receives an email confirmation

Rider cancels a ride

Rider receives push notification in app

Rider receives SMS text

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. 


Time period 

Phone number

dispatcher location

4:15 a.m. - 7:00 a.m. 


CAMBUS Maintenance Facility

7:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. 




Weekends during fall and spring academic session

Time period 

phone number

dispatcher location

8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. 


CAMBUS Maintenance Facility

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m. 




weekends during summer break

Time period 

phone number

dispatcher location

11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 


CAMBUS Maintenance Facility

12:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 




Break weekends and holidays: During the few break 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. Riders wishing to schedule permanent rides or make changes to their permanent ride schedule must contact the bionic bus supervisor.

Requesting Permanent Rides Before a Session

For every session change within the university, the bionic bus supervisor will create new Bionic Bus schedules. Approximately one month before the start of a new session, the bionic bus supervisor will send out a notice via email or mail (for those who do not have email), notifying all current riders of the upcoming scheduling process. Ride requests must be returned to the bionic bus supervisor via email, survey response, or mail by the indicated due date to receive priority in scheduling. Any ride requests received after the due date will still be considered and fit into the 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 change their permanent schedule at any time during a session. Riders should coordinate these changes with the bionic bus supervisor through email.

Due to scheduling constraints, it is necessary to require one hour between a passenger’s drop-off and their next scheduled pick-up. This policy helps to ensure space between rides can be used to accommodate 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. 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).

The Bionic bus 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 Bus 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 bus supervisor if they feel a scheduled trip(s) is excessively long in comparison to a comparable fixed route trip. 

Bionic Bus understands that 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 promptly for reasons beyond their control. However, repeatedly missing scheduled trips and/or failing to cancel trips promptly can lead to suspension of service. Last-minute cancellations, or “no-shows”, are detrimental to the effective operation of the Bionic Bus service and adversely affects the ability to provide service to other passengers. The following information explains the Bionic Bus no-show and late cancellation policy. 


 A “no show” occurs when the vehicle arrives at the pick-up location within the 10-minute pick-up window, 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 canceling 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 at least five minutes past the scheduled pick-up time. Once five minutes have passed, the bus may leave without the passenger. If the schedule permits, the vehicle may wait additional time. It is not always possible for the bus to wait longer than 5 minutes due to schedule constraints. 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). 


 If you find that you do not need a ride that you have scheduled, you must call the dispatcher to cancel it. Please cancel your ride as soon as you realize 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 before their ride. Any ride not canceled at least one hour before the pick-up time will be considered a late cancellation no-show. 

Please only schedule rides that you know you will use, and for permanent rides, those that will be used consistently. 

No-shows or late cancellations due to bionic error or beyond the riders control 

 The Bionic Bus system will not record a no-show or late cancellation due to: 

  • an error by the Bionic Bus system, or 
  • situations beyond the rider’s control that prevents them from notifying Bionic to cancel the ride

Examples of Bionic errors include: 

  • trips scheduled in error
  • pick-ups 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
  • an appointment that runs unexpectedly late

Riders should contact the dispatcher or the Bionic bus supervisor to inform them when they have a no-show or late cancellation that they feel was 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 to inquire about the status of any rides connected to the one 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 remain on the schedule; however, a no-show will be recorded if the rider fails to appear for subsequent rides. Therefore, it is best 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 stated previously, last-minute cancellations or “no-shows” are detrimental to the effective operation of the Bionic Bus 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, and 
  • Recorded 3 or more no-shows or late cancels in a calendar month, and
  • 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 bus 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 bus supervisor will also attempt to consult with the rider to 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. 

Fourth Violation: 

The rider receives a 14-day suspension. 

Fifth & Subsequent Violations: 

The rider receives a 21-day suspension. 

Notice of suspension 

The Bionic bus 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 notify  the rider of 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. As stated previously, the Bionic bus supervisor will also attempt to consult with the rider to 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 bus supervisor to explain the circumstance and request removal of the no-show or late cancellation. The Bionic bus 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 within 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