Opinion: Cambus Bionic is essential for transportation for those with disabilities

The service UI Parking and Transportation offers is well worth supporting.


Katina Zentz

A Cambus passes by the Main Library on Thursday, September 26, 2019.

Ally Pronina, Columnist

Transportation can be difficult in Iowa City, especially for people who have a disability. Luckily, the Cambus Bionic bus service is here.

Riders with cognitive disabilities might struggle with sitting down, distracting the driver, and understanding when to get off. Since Cambus Bionic drivers are trained to provide assistance to these riders, they can help.

Bryan Mulrooney, Cambus student dispatch and Bionic supervisor, said Cambus Bionic is a no-fare campus service serving people with cognitive and physical disabilities. 

Cambus Bionic does not discriminate based on what type of disability a person may have.  Per [the Americans with Disabilities Act], if your disability makes it difficult to ride existing fixed-route service, you are more than likely eligible to ride Cambus Bionic,” Mulrooney wrote in an email to *The Daily Iowan*.

To comply with the ADA, Cambus Bionic drivers are trained to provide assistance to all riders, including those with cognitive disabilities. 

It makes sense something which has the goal of assisting people with disabilities complies with the ADA. Mulrooney wrote other ways Cambus Bionic complies with the ADA. 

Cambus Bionic complies with all ADA regulations, and goes above-and-beyond where we can,” Mulrooney said. “For example, riding Bionic requires filling out an application and ADA requires we process this application within 21 days.”

Cambus Operations Manager Mia Brunelli also wrote in an email how Cambus Bionic provides accommodations for its riders. 

“Our dispatchers, who schedule rides for Bionic riders, are trained in ADA regulations. Our driver and dispatcher training are meant to be inclusive for all persons with a disability who might use the Bionic system,” Brunelli said. “We also go above-and-beyond the requirements of ADA in our scheduling by allowing riders to make same-day ride requests or changes.  We know our riders have busy schedules and we do this to help make the system more flexible and convenient for our riders.” 

Brunelli also wrote that while the Cambus Bionic is open to the public, it is best suited for University of Iowa students and faculty because of the area it serves. 

UI student Megan Reichel talked about her experience with Cambus Bionic. 

”It’s been really nice, always on time. A few of them (drivers) have made conversation with me on the way there,” Reichel said. “They don’t ask any questions if I come onto the bis without using my cane.” 

Reichel said Cambus Bionic requires filling out a form online about where riders want to be picked up, where they are going, and what time they would like the bus to pick them up.

This schedule is beneficial for those who need services Cambus Bionic offers. It is able to serve more people by basing its schedules off riders’ requests versus a fixed schedule the department of transportation sets.

Reichel said there have been instances where she could not get the times she requested because the bus was already packed. Brunelli said the service does have to turn down requests at times due to full schedules. 

Mulrooney said the Bionic bus is funded through student fees and UI Parking and Transportation, along with federal and state funds.

Cambus Bionic serves an irreplaceable purpose in the UI community. It is important to support Cambus Bionic so that it will continue to provide services to people who need it. You can never get enough of a good thing.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article did not identify the Cambus Bionic as a bus service and gave an incorrect reason for the service having to turn down request. These have been corrected. The Daily Iowan regrets these errors.