Posted tagged ‘personal rapid transit’

PODCARS – A Personal Rapid Transit primer

September 9, 2009

Seattle Transportation Examiner

United States

By David Gow

This year has seen an increasing stream of news, included, about the mass transit alternative concept Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) — also known as “podcars.”

Stories on podcars are usually followed by discussions among readers speculating about what PRT is, how it would work, or why is it needed. Answers tend not to resolve their questions to any great satisfaction.

I have some insights into the subject, having observed PRT development for nearly twenty years. Wider public understanding is needed about PRT, because there are two PRT projects that are to begin operating soon — short initial phases of what could become larger PRT-based transit networks.  In the next few years, your community could start thinking about adding PRT to existing transit services, and your thumbs-up or thumbs-down needs to be an informed one.


– BC needs personal rapid transit – not 18th Century locomotives

August 18, 2009

Here’s a story from the USA about a personal rapid transit (PRT) system built in the early 1970’s and still in operation today

Four seater PRT

Eight-seater 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.


Additional news story