Presbyterian College > Academic Web Server > Jon Bell > Transit > (Cities | Types) > Morgantown

Morgantown, West Virginia
Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)


The Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system is one of five automated urban "people mover" systems that have been built in the United States since the late 1970s. (The others are in Detroit, Michigan; Irving, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; and Miami, Florida.) It is operated by West Virginia University, and connects the university's Evansdale and Downtown Campuses with downtown Morgantown. It is a single line, 3.6 miles long, with five stations. The section from Walnut St. (downtown Morgantown) to the Engineering station opened in 1975; the rest of the line opened in 1979.

The cars seat eight people and have some room for standees. They run on rubber tires in a U-shaped concrete guideway that has power and signal rails along the inner walls. There is no human staff on board the cars or in the stations (as far as I can tell). The three intermediate stations each have several platforms, and "express tracks" that bypass the stations completely.

During low-traffic periods, all cars stop at all stations. During high-traffic periods, cars bypass stations so that any station can be reached non-stop from any other station. When entering a station, passengers press a button on the entry turnstile that signals where they want to go, then proceed to a specific platform to wait for the next car to that station. Different platforms serve different destinations; some platforms "share" destinations, and use an overhead electric sign to indicate the destination of the next car.

WVU students, faculty and staff ride by paying a per-semester fee; they swipe their magnetically-encoded ID cards though the turnstiles when entering the stations. Others pay a cash fare of $0.50.

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These pictures were taken in early August 1999, at the end of summer semester. Classes had just ended, so traffic was very light and all cars stopped at all stations. In fact, the system was scheduled to shut down completely for a week, beginning a few days later.

[picture] An exterior view of the Walnut station in downtown Morgantown.

[picture] A car waits for departure at the Walnut station.

[picture] The elevated guideway crosses over University Avenue, just west of the Walnut station.

[picture] A street-level view of the elevated Beechurst station, which serves the WVU downtown campus.

[picture] The turnstile at Beechurst (as at the other stations) asks passengers to select their destination.

[picture] Looking out the rear of a northbound car leaving Beechurst, we can see the guideway from the platform rejoining the express guideway which passes underneath the platform.

[picture] Looking back towards Beechurst from a point further north, we get a good view of the Monongahela River.

[picture] The interior of a car traveling along the river.

[picture #1] | [picture #2] The central maintainance and control facility on Beechurst Avenue.

[picture] North of the maintenance facility, the guideway climbs a long hill from the Monongahela River valley to the Evansdale campus; here we are looking downhill out the front window of a southbound car. To the left is Monongahela Boulevard, which becomes Beechurst Avenue at the bottom of the hill.

[picture] Interior of the Engineering station, showing the stairways down to platform level, the turnstiles, and some out-of-service cars stored at one of the unused platforms.

[picture] A view of the Engineering station, from the hillside next to it. Here the "express tracks" run underneath the station.

[picture] From the same location, turning right about 90 degrees, we see the Towers station in the distance. The express tracks run around this station, not underneath.

[picture] A southbound car leaves ground level and enters the elevated portion of the guideway along Evansdale Drive, headed towards the Towers station, out of sight around the curve to the left.

[picture] Exterior view of the Medical station.

[picture #1] | [picture #2] A passenger in a wheelchair boards a car at the Medical station. Cars actually stop twice here, as at the other stations. Here, they stop first at the gate to the right so that arriving passengers can get off (note the DO NOT BOARD sign); then they advance to the gate at the left for boarding.

This page was last updated on 18 September 2007.

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