It wouldn’t be Morgantown without the Personal Rapid Transit, and it certainly wouldn’t be a normal day of classes without the PRT breaking down.
Over the past couple of years, though, the PRT has undergone many drastic changes to the system and its all-around looks, but there doesn’t seem to be a difference.
This past year, the Department of Transportation (WVUDOT) decided to close the PRT early at 8:00pm instead of the original 10:00pm, but why?
Arlie Forman, Associate Director of the PRT, spoke about the topic…
Currently the Automatic Train Control and Automatic Fare Collection System are being replaced by and international company named Thales Security. Portions of the project will be completed by the end of Summer 2016, but the new System will not be commissioned and put into passenger service until August 2017. During this same period the MPRT will be replacing all of the electrical substation and we will begin working on a prototype vehicle design to replace the existing MPRT vehicle.
The MPRT is closing early to support software testing for the Automatic Train Control System. Software development and testing is a very long process and since our existing system is over 40 years old we wanted to help the testing process by allowing more time to test the new Train Control/Vehicle software since most of this work cannot be done during passenger service.
With all of the new changes and updates to make the PRT more reliable, students are still upset about the system.
“I don’t like the new PRT hours because it’s harder to get around campus in the evening, especially when you have a night class,” said Carter Thompson, a sophomore at WVU.
Joey Licata, also a sophomore at WVU, said he drives around campus because he doesn’t “have to worry about walking or the PRT breaking down or waiting around.”
However, Forman said that he’s received very few complaints about the change in operational hours.
“I have only heard of a couple complaints very early on when the hours were changed, but we hoped to mitigate any problems by providing bus support during these amended hours,” said Forman.
The PRT shuttle bus is a good replacement for students to take between the downtown Mountain Lair and Engineering after 8:00pm. The shuttle buses come into effect during the duration of the time that the PRT would normally be open.
Forman said that WVUDOT‘s first goal is greater reliability with the system…
We need to operate consistently at greater than 99% System Reliability. The problem with achieving the goal is the way power is collected for vehicle. It’s a weak spot [and] although purposeful, it does create down time since the power collection arms can fail and the miles of power rail that need to be maintained.
There are no definite blueprints for the prototype, however there are certain aspects such as vehicle dimensions and the boarding elevation that will have to remain the same since we can’t afford to change the infrastructure. I personally would like to see a hybrid powered vehicle so this inherent weak spot can be addressed.
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