The University of Iowa

Demand-Response Transportation Service for Persons with Disabilities

Rider's Guide to Service Information & Policies

What is the Bionic Bus?

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 (door to door assistance may be provided when necessary) designed to serve university students, staff, and faculty. The service operates up to three accessible mini-buses, each of which may accommodate up to three wheelchairs and four ambulatory riders at any one time. The Bionic Bus is one service of the Cambus Public Transit System.

What is the fare to ride the Bionic Bus?

There is NO FARE to ride the Bionic Bus.

What are the hours of operation?

Academic Session Service

Monday through Friday 6:45 a.m. - 12:00 midnight

Saturday and Sunday 12:00 noon - 12:00 midnight

Interim and Summer Session Service

Monday through Friday 6:45 a.m. - 12:00 midnight

Saturday and Sunday 12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.

What mobility devices are allowed on the buses?

Bionic attempts to accommodate all types of mobility devices.  For your safety, it is recommended that devices approved for public transit vehicles be used, if possible.  Guide animals and respirators are accommodated on the vehicles.  Devices powered by flammable fuels (e.g. gasoline) are not permitted on vehicles due to safety issues.

How do I get certified as eligible to ride Bionic?

To use the service, you must obtain a "Certification of Eligibility" as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  During the process of certifying ADA eligibility, a person may be temporarily eligible to use the service for up to 21 days.  Bionic has a certification process for UI students, faculty, and staff. Members of the general public should get certified by the Iowa City or Coralville Transit systems.  Eligibility will be granted to persons, with qualifying permanent or temporary disabilities, who need specialized transportation. Dependent upon your needs, eligibility may be permanent or temporary, unconditional or conditional. All information remains confidential.  A prospective rider must contact either the Bionic Office (335-7595) or the Faculty and Staff Disability Services to receive certification forms and information. 

The Faculty and Staff Disability Services provides a number of services for persons with disabilities in addition to the opportunity to complete accommodation requests, if needed. Riders are, therefore, encouraged to contact their respective office.

Student Disability Services - 335-1462

Faculty and Staff Disability Services - 335-2660

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

University affiliation (student, faculty, or staff status) is also necessary for the Bionic Bus to be your primary provider for transportation.  All other members of the general public should use Johnson County SEATS as their primary provider if they are eligible for service under the ADA.  However, some Iowa City or Coralville residents who are certified with SEATS do attain university affiliation.  When this happens, they become eligible for Bionic Bus service.  While SEATS certification satisfies Bionic certification requirements, we ask that a form still be completed so that we have the complete information necessary to provide adequate service.

To complete the certification process, a prospective rider may either call the Bionic office (335-7595), complete and print the Bionic online certification form, or call their respective disability services office.

How do I schedule a ride?

Rides can be scheduled on a call-in basis (as needed) through the Cambus Dispatcher by calling the Bionic line at 335-7595.  Rides can also be scheduled on a "permanent" basis through arrangement with the Bionic Supervisor (see "What is a permanent ride?)  You may call in to request a ride at any time during normal operating hours.  Your ride will be scheduled if there is space available.

Tips to make call-in scheduling smoother

Be prepared to tell the dispatcher your name, requested pick-up time, pick-up location and your destination. Please be able to identify the locations. It is also the rider's responsibility to request a return ride if one is needed.

Please try to keep the phone call short. The best way to do this is to know complete addresses and desired times before placing the call. The dispatchers have many duties and if your ride information is straightforward, scheduling errors will be less likely.

Please be aware that rides are scheduled upon bus availability.  The dispatchers are as accommodating as possible, but there may not be room in the schedule at the time you requested.  Remember, the more flexibility you have, the more likely you will be able to schedule a ride.

Take note of the dispatcher's name, as it may be helpful later if there is a problem or question about your ride.

Where do I call in the early mornings & interim weekends?

Weekday Mornings:  there is a dispatcher available at 5:15 a.m.  If you do not receive an answer when calling the Bionic line (335-7595) this means that the dispatcher is still at the Maintenance Facility organizing the buses for the day.  You may then call the Cambus Maintenance Facility at 335-5208.

Interim Weekends:  scheduling rides for weekends during interim sessions should be done during the week by calling the Cambus dispatcher (335-7595). If on the weekend, however, a ride needs to be added or cancelled on the weekend during interim and summer, the driver must be contacted at the Maintenance Facility (335-5208), since there is not a dispatcher on duty. The driver can be reached by telephone prior to the start of service ( 11:30 to noon) or between scheduled rides. In case of an emergency, a rider may contact Public Safety, 335-5022, who will then contact the driver.

What is a permanent ride?

A "permanent" ride is a ride automatically scheduled on the same day of the week, every week, for the entire semester (e.g. pick-up at 9 a.m. every Monday).  Permanent rides are a privilege assigned to facilitate rider convenience and to utilize the available service more effectively.  Riders who have permanent rides scheduled may also call in for additional rides at any time.

Requesting Permanent Rides

Approximately one month prior to the start of each academic period, the Bionic Supervisor will send out a Bionic Ride Request Sheet.  This sheet should then be completed with ride requests and returned to the Bionic Supervisor by the indicated due date.  Those received after the due date will be fit into the already existing schedule.  Such requests will not be accepted over the telephone.  Arrangements can be made for the use of cassette tapes, if needed, but these arrangements must be made ahead of time with the Bionic Supervisor.

Scheduling Permanent Rides

After the Ride Request due date, the Bionic Supervisor will devise a schedule for the semester from the requests received.  Ride Request Sheets received after the due date may not be included.  This schedule will be maintained throughout the semester.  Finalized permanent schedules will be sent out to riders approximately 5-14 days before the academic session begins.  Any changes that you need to make to your permanent schedule throughout the semester should be referred to the Bionic Supervisor.

The Bionic Supervisor will do her/his best in coordinating all of the requests with the service availability.  It is important to remember, however, that all requests may not be filled if requests exceed service availability.  In such instances, the Bionic Supervisor will do her/her best to accommodate as many rides as possible.  The goal is to serve the greatest number of people possible with the service available.  It is impossible, however, to always be able to accommodate all rides at the exact times requested.

What are the policies concerning Cancellations and No-Shows?

a. Cancellation Policy

If you find that you do not need a ride that you have scheduled, you must call the dispatcher to cancel it. Please be considerate of the other riders and cancel as soon as you realize you will not be taking the ride. This opens more schedule time (service) for others to call in rides.

When a ride is not cancelled at least a day ahead of time, the changes are good that the time slot will go unused.  This wastes valuable service.  Bionic understands that calling this far in advance is not always possible and consequently we allow our riders to cancel up to one hour prior to the ride.  Any ride that is not cancelled at least one hour before pick-up time will be considered a no-show.

If you consistently cancel a permanently scheduled ride (3 times per month or more than 50% of the time) that ride will be removed from the schedule. This is based on the assumption that if a rider cancels this often, the ride is unneeded on a weekly basis. Such rides may still be scheduled, as needed, through the dispatcher.  Please do not schedule permanent rides "just in case". This takes up valuable schedule time and is not fair to the other riders. Schedule permanent rides that are needed and will be used on a consistent basis.

b. No-Show Policy

Any ride for which you do not show up, or cancels with notice of less than one hour, will be recorded as a "no-show". If a ride is no-showed, the return ride will automatically be cancelled unless the rider notifies the dispatcher.  It is important that all riders be on time, as lateness interrupts service to others.  The driver will wait a maximum of three minutes past the pick up time, schedule permitting.  If there is still no sign of the rider, the driver will be forced to leave and the ride will be recorded as a no-show.

No-Show consequences

If a rider has (3) three no-shows in a 30 day period, his/her eligibility for transportation services may be limited or ultimately suspended. Following the third no-show in a 30 day period, the Bionic Supervisor will mail out a notice informing the rider that the no-show limit has been exceeded. At this time, the Bionic Supervisor will take appropriate action, which may include:

  1. Suspension of permanent rides (limited to call-in basis only)
  2. Limiting the number of rides that may be scheduled
  3. Suspension of Bionic eligibility

The goal is to minimize no-shows so the service can be used.  The Bionic Supervisor will work with the rider in an attempt to determine a solution that is workable for both parties.

The importance of avoiding no-shows cannot be stressed enough. No-shows waste valuable service and resources that could be utilized by others. For this reason, no-shows will be taken viewed and acted upon seriously.

What is the policy for loading & securing wheelchair?

For your safety, as well as the safety of other riders and the driver, we require that:
  1. All wheelchairs be facing outward when loaded on the wheelchair lift.
  2. All wheelchairs be secured with the proper restraints when in the bus.  

The drivers have been instructed to load and secure all wheelchairs accordingly prior to moving the bus.  If a passenger refuses to load properly or allow the wheelchair to be secured as specified, we will be forced to refuse service.  All buses meet ADA requirements, however, if your wheelchair will not fit onto the lift or into the securements provided, please contact the Bionic Supervisor immediately. It is recommended, but not required, that those using wheelchairs also secure themselves when riding the bus.  Lap belts and shoulder harnesses are available on all buses. 

What are the driver's responsibilities?

The drivers are employed and trained to meet transportation needs. Their job is to transport passengers safely and to help them onto and off of the bus. They are not required to carry things for riders or assist in other ways. If more assistance is needed, it is strongly recommended that an assistant accompany he rider.  Please remember that the driver has a schedule to keep and other rides for which they are responsible.

Cambus does provide accessible fixed-route service, as well!

All of the Cambus fixed-route vehicles and routes are accessible to persons with disabilities.  The buses are equipped with front door lifts and wheelchair securement stations.

Several people find the fixed-route service to be a convenient option for many of their trips.  For service and schedule information call Cambus at 335-8633 or visit the web site at

Your feedback is important.

Please remember that we value your comments and suggestions. The purpose behind all the Bionic policies and procedures, which have developed over years of experience, is to provide the best service possible for the greatest number of people. If you feel any of our policies, procedures, or the service itself could be improved, please do not hesitate to offer your suggestions.


© The University of Iowa 2005.  All rights reserved.

Revised: December 06, 2005.