Morgantown, West Virginia, is home to West Virginia University. In the 70s, that college devised a transportation system that would eliminate traffic caused by bussing students to three distinct campuses on narrow and hilly roadways. That system was the PRT, or Personal Rapid Transit system.
The PRT was recently featured in a video by Tom Scott on YouTube, and you can see it at the head of this post.
If you’re unfamiliar with Tom Scott, you should check out his channel. He does some pretty incredible videos covering a wide range of topics typically with a basis in science, technology or, sometimes, law.
The system is genuinely efficient, running students along routes en masse better than a bus system ever could. They’re also used by students, and the video indicates that it’s capable of running 4,000 people in an hour.
Now, I have a really good friend who happens to be an alum of WVU, and I asked if the PRT is as stable and reliable as is suggested in the video. Not so much. Folks all over Reddit and YouTube offered that it breaks down often, and my buddy even admitted to being stuck once. Though he also explained that its efficiency made him use it all the time.
With that said, I’m a sucker for old engineering feats, and this PRT system feels like something straight out of TomorrowLand in Disney World. How about the TomorrowLand Transit Authority’s People Mover?
Great, now I’m watching this cartoon again.