A car on West Virginia University's Personal Rapid Transit System moves people around the campus.
MORGANTOWN -- The West Virginia University Personal Rapid Transit System (PRT) is still attracting worldwide attention some 30 years after it first began carrying passengers.
On March 20, WVU will host a group of eight engineers and scientists from Korea interested in observing the PRT control/maintenance center and entering into technical discussions on how the system works.
The group, from the Korean Railroad Research Institute (KRRI), has been developing a PRT-type system over the last 10 years.
Their representatives tour various systems around the world, and WVU is a major stop for them, according to Assistant Director of Public Safety and Transportation Bob Hendershot.
"This is great recognition for our system," Hendershot said. "It also provides us the possibility of taking advantage of new developments we can incorporate in the PRT, providing close ties with companies implementing new technology."
KRRI has been designated as the primary project manager for the "Next Generation Urban Transit System Development," a program funded by the Korean government and private industry. Over $50 million has been designated for the development of the next generation of PRT systems.
WVU's PRT was dedicated Oct. 24, 1972. Phase I of the system – which consisted of 45 vehicles running from Walnut Street to the Evansdale Campus – began carrying passengers in October 1975. Phase II extended the system to the Health Sciences Center , adding 28 more cars. It began running in July 1979.
To date, the PRT has carried 62.7 million passengers since its debut over 30 years ago. It has also accumulated a remarkable safety record, reporting no serious injuries in that time period.
Powered by electric motors, the computer-driven cars arrive at stations within five minutes after a student Mountaineer Card or employee ID card has been swiped.