In 2012, I took a daytrip to Morgantown, West Virginia. Why Morgantown, you ask? Because it is home to one of the most unique rapid-transit systems in the world: Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit. It opened in 1975, making it the first and oldest personal rapid-transit, or PRT, system in the world. In fact, it was the only PRT system on earth until 2010, when it was joined by systems in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. But Morgantown’s system is still the largest and busiest, and it still operates largely on the 1970s technology that made it possible.
So, what’s it like to ride PRT? In Morgantown, at least, there are turnstiles, much like, say, the New York City Subway. But after you deposit your fare (currently 50¢) or swipe your West Virginia University ID card (the system is free for WVU students, staff, and faculty), four buttons on the turnstile light up, each labeled with the name of one of the other stations in the system. Push the button next to the name of the station you want to go to and wait no more than a few minutes before a small, rubber-wheeled car that fits eight or so passengers pulls up. An electronic sign over the car’s door lights up with the name of your destination. Step in, and you’re on your way, skipping intermediate stations using bypass tracks.
And what does the ride look like? Check out this time lapse I created of a trip from one end of the system, the Walnut Street station in downtown Morgantown, to the other end, Medical Center.
|Read more about my trip that day—it was quite the adventure—on my other blog at Dialann.org.|