City Wants Cambus Involved in Transit Study


Nick Rohlman

Commuters load and unload buses at the Downtown interchange in Iowa City on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

ANDY MITCHELL, [email protected]

Iowa City prepares to undergo a substantial study spanning three area bus systems.

The City of Iowa City is considering studying and potentially improving the Iowa City and Coralville transit systems, and the University of Iowa’s Cambus wants to join.

Jim Sayre, the director of UI Parking and Transportation, said his service is interested in collaborating with the city on the study.

“We’re neighbors,” Sayre said. “We work together all the time, we’re transporting each other’s customers around town. We have slightly different missions, but we intersect all over town.”

Cooperation among the area bus systems is ongoing and fluid. Sayre gave a recent example about a group of off-campus students requesting service from Cambus for their part of town. Because the students’ part of town was out of Cambus’ purview, Cambus officials joined Iowa City to find a solution.

“I hope that the study will look at things like that,” Sayre said. “What can we do to support our student and employee neighborhoods that surround campus and do we need to overlap more in one direction or another.”

Sayre described UI and Cambus as a city within a city in terms of mission and the people they serve in comparison to Iowa City and Coralville.

“We serve campus,” Sayre said. “That’s our core mission, to support the students and employees that work on campus. We’re in our own little circle here, and that’s on purpose.”

While he said the Cambus, Iowa City, and Coralville systems cooperate well, the Chamber of Commerce would like to improve the experience for commuters.

RELATED: Iowa Transportation Commission approves $600,000 for UI Cambus

“One of the things we’ve heard in the area lately is that people that live here are having a hard time getting to work,” Sayre said.

Ryan Sempf, director of government relations and public policy with the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, said the priority of the study is gathering data and exploring options.

“The most important thing is that we’re not saying there need to be changes,” Sempf said. “There’s just the opportunity to look and see if there can be changes.”

He said he understands why people see the current bus system as seamless enough, but from his perspective, he sees the opportunity for change. His example was seeing the three systems, Iowa City, Coralville, and Cambus running on the same roads and said that he thinks it could be more efficient.

Second-year UI student Kyleakin Helm depends on the bus system to move around Iowa City from her off-campus apartment.

“As it is now, I don’t mind separate routes because it means less time to my destination,” Helm said. “However, it confuses a lot of people on how to use it and which route to take.”

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