Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The good old PRT

Jessica forwarded me a nice article in the New York Times online edition (originally from her Dad) that showcases the mighty PRT, a staple of my days in Morgantown, WV.

City's White Elephant Now Looks Like a Transit Workhorse

I'm glad to see that the PRT is up for expansion. As the article points out, it is one of the things that has enabled Morgantown to escape the decline in population that other West Virginia cities have faced in previous decades. I remember moving to Morgantown and being shocked when I met students that did not own a car. Imagine! Using public transportation as your only means of getting around!

Luckily, the Times writer didn't visit when school was in session - the system could benefit from an increase in capacity. I remember many days waiting for cars that never came, with a mob of angry students. The system's linear layout is interesting, but not practical. Each station has a bypass track, meaning if the car arriving flashed the last station on the route, you couldn't board if you wanted an intermediate station. It only makes sense because the cars don't hold that many people - it's not like a subway train that holds hundreds.

Also, it was always a great excuse for being late to class. Entering a room and saying, "Sorry, the PRT broke down," would always draw understanding nods and smiles from the entire classroom, and usually, the professor.


Jessica said...

Unfortunately, my only experience with the PRT was when we tried to take it to the WVU football game and the stations were packed because it had broken down. Fortunately it was a beautiful autumn day for our (very long) walk to the stadium.

Liz said...

It seems like an idea with potential. Anything to cut back on use of cars!

Robert said...

Seeing this picture reminds me of the World's Fair (in 1964) with all of it's innovation of "people movers"!!

SCFP said...

WVU Morgantown (2008)would be 'lost' without this system - despite all of it's somewhat chronic issues - it DOES keep "things moving".