Getting Around the Iowa City Area (Without A Car)

As a native of Philadelphia, I’m very comfortable navigating life via public transportation.  However, if you are used to living in an area where having a car is a necessity (or preference), transitioning to a life where other people take the wheel might be a bit daunting.  Never fear – I’m here to help!

The main hub for the transit system is between the Old Capitol Mall and the Pentacrest in downtown Iowa City.  Even if you accidentally get on the wrong bus, just stay on it.  You will end up back downtown.  Trust me – I’ve done it.  It’s fine 😊

Okay – let’s go through some some FAQs:

How much does it cost?

In general, an adult passenger will need to pay $1.  When you board the bus, you will put either your dollar bill or coins into the machine by the driver.  If your trip requires transferring to another bus, make sure to ask for a free transfer when you pay your initial fare.

If you will be spending the day traveling to different parts of the city, it would be best to get a 24 hour pass – which will allow you unlimited rides for a day from the time of purchase.  That pass costs $2.  When you board, request that type of pass from the driver, and deposit your money once the driver indicates that the system is ready.

Youth (ages 5-18) cost 50 cents, and both children under 5 and seniors 65+ are free.  See other fare information here.

Am I allowed to travel between Iowa City and Coralville?

Yes!  Passes purchased (10 ride, monthly, college/university) can be used on either city transit bus system.

Where do I buy bus passes?

Good question!  For Iowa City 10 ride and monthly passes, you can visit any of the following places: Iowa City City Hall Cashier; Iowa City Parking; 1st Avenue Hy-Vee; Waterfront Hy-Vee; Hy-Vee Drug Store and North Dodge Hy-Vee.

The Annual U-Pass (unlimited rides for employees associated with the University of Iowa or UIHC) can be purchased at the UI Parking office or online.

For Coralville passes, you may purchase them at Coralville City Hall, Coralville Library, and the Coralville Recreation Center; Hy-Vee in Coralville (8th Street; Crosspark Road)

Iowa City Transit (ICT)

Within Iowa City, there are thirteen bus routes that can get you to most areas within the city limits.

1 South Iowa City – stops along Gilbert Street, Lakeside Drive, and Heinz Road, including Waterfront HyVee and Fareway

2 Court Street – stops along Burlington and Court Streets, including Scott Park, Fraunholz-Miller Park and City High School

3 Eastside Loop – a limited route that runs before and after school, servicing City High, Southeast Junior High, Regina, Grant Wood Elementary, Systems Unlimited and the Iowa City Marketplace

4 Downtown Shuttle – traverses near-downtown neighborhoods, UI East campus, and the Campus Wellness & Rec Center

5 Lower Muscatine/Kirkwood – has stops along Kirkwood, including Iowa City Marketplace, Eastdale Plaza, The Quarters and Bon Aire

6 Peninsula – travels on North Dubuque Street, in the Peninsula Neighborhood, City Park and Laura Drive

7 North Dodge – Along Highway 1, reaching North odge HyVee, Northgate Corporate Park and Pearson.  Campus stops at ACT are only served during peak hours

8 Oakcrest – can be utilized to reach University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Oaknoll, the Oakcrest neighborhood and Sunset Street

9 Towncrest – Towncrest and 7th Avenue areas, including Walgreens/CVS, First Avenue HyVee and Towncrest Commercial area

10 West Iowa City – stops near the reach University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, North Hospital/Newton Road (near the Carver College of Medicine), Pheasant Ridge, Fareway, Westside Drive and Rohret Road.  The Irving Avenue/Shannon Drive loop is only serviced during off-peak hours

11 Rochester – utilize this route to get to Mercy Hospital, Regina Education Center, HyVee Drug Town, Olde Town Village and the surrounding commerical area

12 Highway 1 – route travels via Riverside Drive and Highway 1, stopping near Walmart/Aldi, Fareway and Pheasant Ridge

13 South Gilbert – stops along this route include Napoleon Park, Terry Trueblood Rec Area, Cole’s Mobile Home Park and the Campus Wellness and Rec Center

Coralville Transit

Coralville is a city located directly northwest of Iowa City and, due to its proximity, is often referred to a suburb of the larger city.  Their buses have several stops in Iowa City, and then go on to transport passengers throughout Coralville.

There is also a route that travels to North Liberty (22) on weekdays.

University of Iowa CAMBUS

The University of Iowa transit system is easily spotted because they sport the campus colors: black and gold.

  • Red Route (31) – Includes WCTC, UIHC, Health Sciences Campus, residence halls, and the Pentacrest
  • Blue Route (32) – Includes WCTC, UIHC, Health Sciences Campus, residence halls, and the Pentacrest
  • South Campus Shuttle (33) – Service between Pentacrest area and south campus locations, including Voxman Music Hall, University Services Building, Parking Lot 11, and the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.
  • Research Park (34) – Service between the Research Park campus and the Health Sciences Campus (please note: this route extends into Coralville)
  • Interdorm (35) – Provides service between residence halls and the Pentacrest area.
  • Hawk Lot-Hospital (41) – direct service between Parking Lot 85, Hawkeye Commuter, and the West Campus Transportation Center (WCTC). The WCTC has skywalk access to UIHC. Serves Aspire on Hawkeye Park Road.
  • Hawkeye-Pentacrest (42) – Service between the Hawkeye Campus, Health Sciences Campus, and the Pentacrest area.
  • Hawkeye Interdorm (43) – night and weekend connection between Hawkeye campus, UI Hospitals & Clinics, and the residence halls
  • Hospital-Finkbine/Arena (51) – Service between Parking Lot 65, Finkbine Commuter, and Parking Lot 75, Arena commuter parking lots to the West Campus Transportation Center (WCTC). The WCTC has skywalk access to the UIHC Main Entrance.
  • Finkbine-Pentacrest (52) – Connections between the Pentacrest area, Health Sciences Campus, and Parking Lots 65, Finkbine Commuter, and 75, Arena
  • VA Loop Shuttle (53) – Provides AM/PM peak commuter service between Parking Lot 65, Finkbine Commuter, and 75, Arena, and the VA Loop on the Health Sciences Campus.
  • Hancher-Newton Road (54) – Provides direct service between Parking Lot 55, Hancher, the Arts Campus, and the Health Sciences Campus.

Tracking Buses

There are three ways to track the location of buses, so that you can best plan out your trip.  In 2019, a new app called Transit (available to download for Android and iOs devices) was introduced for this purpose.

There have been some issues with that app/system (in terms of accuracy with timing), so you have the option of using the previous, web-based system, Iowa City Area Transit (also known as Bongo).

The third way is by using Google Maps.  Once you put in your destination and click for directions, you will have the option of changing your method of traveling to public transportation.

In Transit, it will use your location to tell you which buses are nearby/incoming.  With Bongo, you can utilize the search bar along the top and find out specific arrival information for your stop.

Ultimately, you should find that the area is quite easy to get around, with a lot of options to get to your destination.

So sit back, relax and enjoy Iowa City! Without a car!


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