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CAMBUS and the Dynamics of Iowa City

Aria Widyanto, Indonesia

Organizing Grantee: ICMA

YSEALI Theme: Civic Engagement

Host: City of Iowa City, IA



Aria Widyanto

CAMBUS - the University of Iowa Transit System


Spotted all across the downtown, CAMBUS has a significant presence among the community of students at the University of Iowa (UI). Operating since 1972, CAMBUS has become the backbone of transportation to commute between dorms and all other UI campus facilities. And yes, it’s a free ride!

One thing that surprise me about this transit system would be the way it operates: by the students! The crew members including drivers, dispatchers, trainers, mechanics and departmental supervisors, are students currently enrolled at the University of Iowa. Serving more than four million rides a year, it’s a big thing for a student-run establishment.

Running a transport system is a complex management process. It involves accuracy in scheduling, routing, driver’s shift management, maintenance and compensation scheme for the team. In fact, this has been conducted seamlessly under the management of CAMBUS, which signifies that CAMBUS system has proven to be an excellent example that the University of Iowa has a strong culture of entrepreneurship, innovation and collaboration.

Bionic Bus System by CAMBUS, a specialized transportation service for persons with disabilities


The presence of CAMBUS also changed my perspective about Iowa City in general. Prior to my arrival here, I was wondering if the State Department and ICMA would assign me to go farming in Iowa (the first picture I discovered when googling about Iowa was a giant cow with a vast farm land at the backgorund).

Getting used to live in a super hectic metropolitan like Jakarta, farming might be a good Exchange idea to put my brain back into the serenity. Maybe. But then, my perception about sleepy college town in the middle of okra land has changed. I see Iowa City as an ideal town to live. For the city of its size (approx. 68,000 people), Iowa City has a modern amenity and infrastructure. Top-ranked university, modern hospital and libraries, state-of-the-art sports complex (Kinnick Stadium is awesome!) and young vibrant communities. And yes, it’s been recognized too as one of the most livable cities in the US.

While physical infrastructures are important to keep the day to day lives of the citizen going, innovative cultures are the one that would make it sustainable for the long run. And from CAMBUS case study, I believe that Iowa City is on the right track towards maintaining its sustainable future.

Video link about Cambus that I posted on YouTube : CAMBUS


Genevieve Yee

Woohoo! CAMBUS! Awesome idea for empowerment in our youths!

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