The Iowa City Area Transit Study (ICATS) was initiated by Iowa City Transit in 2019.  Coralville Transit and University of Iowa CAMBUS joined the study to ensure the study's scope and findings would be comprehensive across all three transit systems.  The transportation planning firm Nelson-Nygaard was selected to conduct a Comprehensive Operations Analysis (a.k.a. Transit Study) for all three transit systems.

Local Transit Systems

There are three transit systems that operate in the local area - Iowa City Transit, Coralville Transit, and the University of Iowa CAMBUS.

While the service areas of these systems overlap on campus and in downtown Iowa City, each meets different needs of the community.

  • Iowa City Transit primarily provides service to and from Iowa City neighborhoods, local businesses, and the university campus.
  • Coralville Transit primarily provides service to and from Coralville neighborhoods, local Coralville businesses, and the university campus.
  • CAMBUS primarily provides high-frequency transit services on campus among on-campus residence halls, university buildings, and commuter parking lots.

Previous studies have considered the consolidation of all three transit systems.  This consideration was not part of the scope of 2019-2021 Iowa City Area Transit Study with Nelson-Nygaard.

Public input

Feedback from the public was collected throughout the study through in-person surveys, online surveys, and open house meetings and presentations.

Scope of the Study

The study was comprehensive in nature and included:

  • All routes
  • Bus stops
  • Hours of operation
  • Service areas
  • Frequency of service
  • Bus stop amenities
  • Policies
  • Reduced emissions/electric vehicle considerations

In addition these areas of study, ICATS also examined the fares/passes structure for Iowa City Transit and Coralville Transit.  An analysis of a zero-fare system for Iowa City and Coralville was also studied.

CAMBUS has been fare-free since 1972.

4,000 +

Online survey responses

Survey responses were collected across 3 online surveys during fall 2019 and spring 2020.

200 +

Open House Attendees

Open house meetings were held in fall 2019 and spring 2020 to collect feedback from the community.

Future Service Changes

CAMBUS has implemented the major changes from the transit study as of the FY 21 year.  The transit study also provided a broader scope of opportunities to improve transit through transit infrastructure, including signage, bus stop amenities, and other future planning scenarios.  The transit study documents and recommendations will continue to be referenced for future improvements to the system.

Learn more about Iowa City and Coralville Transit

Information below is specific to CAMBUS' participation in the study and changes made as a result of the study.  For more information about Iowa City Transit and Coralville Transit, visit their website.

Iowa City Transit

Learn more about Iowa City Transit's experience with the transit study and changes made to enhance public transportation in the Iowa City area.

Coralville Transit

Learn more about Coralville Transit's experience with the transit study and changes made to enhance public transportation in Coralville.


Updated June 2021

Route numbering and naming

The transit study provided opportunity to re-evaluate how routes are named.  Some routes were renamed in an effort to improve rider understanding of routes.  In coordination with Iowa City Transit and Coralville Transit, route numbers were also introduced.  Iowa City Transit now uses route numbers 1-19 and Coralville Transit uses route numbers 20-29.  CAMBUS uses route numbers 30 and above.

updated route names and new route numbers

New route number, name, and variations

Previous route name

30’s: Main Campus and Large Circulators

31 Red Route

  • 31 Red Route (regular daytime route)
  • 31M Red Route (when it serves Mayflower)

Red Route

32 Blue Route

  • 32 Blue Route (regular daytime route)
  • 32M Blue Route (when it serves Mayflower)

Blue Route

33 South Campus Shuttle

East Campus Shuttle

34 Research Park

Research Park

35 Interdorm

  • 35 Interdorm (Mayflower – Rienow/Slater alignment, weekend route)
  • 35A Interdorm-WCTC (serves WCTC between Rienow and Slater)
  • 35B Interdorm-Pride and Cultural Centers (serves Pride and Cultural Centers after Rienow, does not serve WCTC or Slater Hall)


36 Mayflower Shuttle

Mayflower Shuttle

40’s: Hawkeye Routes

41 Hawk Lot-Hospital

Hawk Lot-Hospital

42 Hawkeye-Pentacrest

Hawkeye Express

43 Hawkeye Interdorm

Hawkeye Interdorm

50’s Commuter Routes (Lots 55, 65, 75)

51 Hospital-Finkbine/Arena


52 Finkbine-Pentacrest

  • 52 Finkbine-Pentacrest (regular, daytime route)
  • 52N Finkbine-Pentacrest (night route, serves WCTC)


53 VA Loop Shuttle

North Hospital Shuttle

54 Hancher-Newton Road

Hospital via Hancher

60’s: On-Demand Services

61 On-Demand (commuter)

62 On-Demand (campus-wide)

Route alignments

All CAMBUS routes were evaluated in the transit study.  Most CAMBUS routes were found to be useful and highly effective as is.  Opportunities were identified to consolidate and simplify service to and from the Hawkeye campus, while also increasing service and frequency on key routes.

Changes to CAMBUS route alignments as a result of the transit study


Route Alignment Changes

31 Red Route

No changes to route alignment

32 Blue Route

No changes to route alignment

52 Finkbine-Pentacrest (Pentacrest)

No changes to route alignment

34 Research Park

Additional service to provided in Coralville, west of 12th Avenue.

This additional service was coordinated with Coralville Transit.  By providing service to this corridor, Coralville Transit was able to reallocate service to other underserved areas of Coralville.

35 Interdorm

No changes to route structure.

The academic weekday route was expanded to serve the WCTC during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This change was carried forward as a permanent route change.

36 Mayflower Shuttle

No changes to route alignment

43 Hawkeye Interdorm

No changes to route alignment


Route discontinued.

Resources reallocated to provide higher frequency service on other Hawkeye routes

42 Hawkeye-Pentacrest (Hawkeye Express)

No changes in route alignment.

Changes in route alignment were not made initially during the fall 2020 implementation of new routes and schedules.  After receiving rider and driver feedback in fall 2020, route alignment was changed to be bi-directional on Newton Road all day.  A safety analysis of the left turn from Prairie Meadow Drive onto Mormon Trek also resulted in a new route alignment through the Hawkeye campus, so that buses make left turns onto Mormon Trek from Hawkeye Park Road where there is a stop light.

41 Hawk Lot-Hospital

No changes in route alignment

53 Hancher-Newton Road (Hospital via Hancher)

Route was adjusted to both enter and exit the Hancher Parking lot via the entrance on N. Riverside Drive to improve route efficiency.

51 Hospital-Finkbine/Arena

No changes in route alignment

54 VA Loop Shuttle (North Hospital Shuttle)

No changes in route alignment

33 South Campus Shuttle (East Campus Shuttle)

No changes in route alignment

Some routes had naming changes.  The name in parentheses is how the route was identified prior to the transit study.

Route schedules

Route schedules and frequency were changed on some routes to simplify service and in some cases, provide more frequent services.

Route schedules changes implemented in FY 21
Route schedule changes
31 Red Route no changes implemented
32 Blue Route

no changes implemented

33 South Campus Shuttle no changes implemented
34 Research Park no changes implemented*
35 Interdorm no changes implemented*
36 Mayflower Shuttle no changes implemented
41 Hawk Lot-Hospital Frequency of route was increased to every 7 minutes during AM and PM peak commuting hours, and every 10 minutes during midday and evening hours.  Before the study, 41 Hawk Lot-Hospital only operated during AM and PM peak commuting hours at 10-minute frequency.  The Hawkeye campus was served during midday via the Hawkeye-Hospital route and 43 Hawkeye Interdorm.  The Hawkeye-Hospital route was discontinued and resources reallocated to providing more 41 Hawk Lot-Hospital service.  Daytime service on 43 Hawkeye Interdorm was discontinued to provide more midday service on 42 Hawkeye-Pentacrest and 41 Hawk Lot-Hospital.  The consolidation of these routes was intended to simplify service to/from the Hawkeye campus.
42 Hawkeye-Pentacrest Service was increased to 20-minute all-day service.  Before the study, 42 Hawkeye-Pentacrest previously operated as an AM/PM peak service only.  Resources from other Hawkeye routes were reallocated to provide all day 42 Hawkeye-Pentacrest service to provide more reliable and consistent service between the Hawkeye campus, Health Sciences campus along Newton Road, and the Pentacrest/downtown area.
43 Hawkeye Interdorm Service was reduced to hourly late night service (9 p.m. - 1 a.m.).  43 Hawkeye Interdorm previously provided all-day 30-minute service until 9 p.m.  Due to increase congestion across campus, this route became increasingly unreliable to maintain during the daytime.  The resources used to provide daytime 43 Hawkeye Interdorm service were reallocated to 41 Hawk Lot-Hospital and 42 Hawkeye-Pentacrest, which operate with a more reliable schedule.
Hawkeye-Hospital route was discontinued due to duplication of services with 41 Hawk Lot-Hospital and 42 Hawkeye-Pentacrest
51 Hospital-Finkbine/Arena no changes implemented
52 Finkbine-Pentacrest no changes implemented
53 Hancher-Newton Road no changes implemented*
54 VA Loop Shuttle no changes implemented*

*Although these routes did not have schedule changes as a direct result of the transit study, they did have some schedule adjustments during the FY 21 and FY 22 year due to adjusted transit operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  These changes were carried through as permanent schedule changes beyond the pandemic.


Study documents

The links below include documents related to ICATS.  Documents beginning with a number a chapter out of the study final report.

View the full ICATS report

00: Front Matter
Includes: cover page and table of contents

01: Executive Summary
Includes: overall summary of study, including goals of the study, methods, preferred alternative maps

02: Introduction
Includes: goals of the study and a description of each chapter

03: Plan Review
Includes: analysis of previous studies and data collected in the community, including local master plans

04: Market Analysis
Includes: Transit Prosperity Index (TPI) map based upon various demographic data in the community

05: Transit in Iowa City
Includes: performance metrics overview of the three local transit agencies

06: Route Profiles
Includes: profiles of each route for each system, including ridership, destinations served, schedule, and efficiency metrics

07: Scenario Development
Includes: overview of three proposed concepts ("alternative scenarios") for changes to transit system routes, maps of alternative scenarios

08: Outreach Summary
Includes: surveys used and their results by system, summary of open house meetings, stakeholder meetings

09: Preferred Alternative
Includes: overall description of preferred alternative selected by each agency, and detailed descriptions of changes by route and system

10: Transit Infrastructure
Includes: analysis of bus stops in the area, including locations and rider amenities, enhancing speed and reliability of transit services through infrastructure, and considerations for moving to zero-emissions vehicles (electric-powered buses)

11: Vision for Transit

Appendix A: Ridership Maps

Appendix B: Route Profiles

Appendix C: Survey Instruments

Appendix D: Fare Study


Updated June 2021



Kick-off meeting with consultant team from Nelson-Nygaard (NN), Iowa City Transit (ICT) and Coralville Transit (CVT).  Goals of the study were defined and a general timeline of the study was established.


Phase 1 Public Outreach: Ridership data was collected on all routes.  On-board rider surveys were distributed across all routes, and 1,418 responses were gathered on CAMBUS routes (2,777 responses were collected overall across all three systems).  The surveys collected demographic data, information about their transit trip, and desired service enhancements.

October and November

Consultant team performed background review and market analysis, developed route profiles/maps, and finalized a report on the existing conditions of transit in the community.


Phase 2 Public Outreach: Public meetings were held in Iowa City, Coralville, and on the UI campus.  Approximately 90 members of the community attended the public meetings and provided feedback about existing transit services.  12 stakeholder meetings were held with area social service, economic development, and educational organizations.  An online tool "Design Your Own Transit System" was put out to gather community feedback on transit priorities.  1,325 responses were completed.

November and December

Using public feedback and data collected, alternative service scenarios were developed by the consulting team.

attendees gather at an open house meeting for the transit study

ICATS Open House, Nov. 12, 2019 at the university's Iowa Memorial Union

During the phase 2 public outreach, open house meetings were held in Iowa City, Coralville, and on the university campus.



Phase 3 Public Outreach: Open house meetings were held in Iowa City, Coralville, and on the UI campus to present three different concepts for transit system service in the area.  Over 150 community members attended the open houses and provided feedback.  Alternative service scenarios were defined into three concepts:

  • Concept 1 focused on increasing frequency of service
  • Concept 2 focused on simplifying coverage
  • Concept 3 (for Iowa City Transit only) involved restructuring and improving weekend and evening service

Alternative scenarios for CAMBUS largely focused on simplifying route structures and reducing duplicate service coverage.

An online survey was distributed for community members to provide feedback on the service scenarios.  About 1,400 responses were received.


CAMBUS began development of a preferred alternative transit system design based upon feedback received and recommendations from the transit study.  The main focus of change was simplifying service to and from the Hawkeye campus and providing more frequent service to the area.

June and July

CAMBUS developed routes and schedules for the 2020-2021 academic year.  Route schedules and changes reflected much of the transit study recommendations, but also required additional changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The university held mostly online and some hybrid classes during the academic year, and campus service dedicated to academics was reduced to reflect the decreased demand.  In addition, hospital commuter service was greatly increased to reduce crowding on the buses during the pandemic.


CAMBUS implemented route structure and naming changes as a result of the transit study.  Schedules were modified due to the operational needs of the university during the pandemic.




CAMBUS began planning for the 2021-2022 academic year.  Route schedules were adjusted to reflect regular, non-pandemic, operations of the university.

CAMBUS introduced route numbers in response to the transit study recommendation.  Coralville Transit introduced route numbers in fall 2020 and Iowa City Transit planned to implement route numbers in fall 2021.  The numbering system was coordinated amongst the transit agencies:

  • Iowa City Transit: route numbers 1-19
  • Coralville Transit: route numbers 20-29
  • CAMBUS: route numbers 30 and above
attendees gather at an open house meeting for the transit study

ICATS Open House, Jan. 29, 2020 at the university's Iowa Memorial Union

During the phase 3 public outreach, open house meetings were held in Iowa City, Coralville, and on the university campus.  Feedback was collected on the proposed alternative service scenarios developed in late fall 2019.