MORGANTOWN – West Virginia University will not be running its blue and yellow Personal Rapid Transit cars during the upcoming semester out of concerns about possibly spreading COVID-19 to students returning to campus next month.
Instead, the university said it plans on using more buses – both its own and Mountain Line – between its Downtown and Evansdale campuses to help students commute. It is still not known how many buses will be used, but a schedule is expected to be finalized shortly, officials said.
WVU’s Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop said the decision to not run the PRT was made after consulting with Clay Marsh, the university’s executive dean and vice president of health sciences, who has been overseeing the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response, and Jeff Coben, WVU’s associate vice president for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Public Health.
“You can’t it a lot of kids in a PRT car and we had to weigh the risks,” Alsop said.
The PRT, which shuttles around 15,000 people per day on a 3.6-mile track between the two campuses, has been a WVU fixture since 1975. Each car can hold roughly 15 people.
WVU officials said they don’t anticipate any problems swapping out the PRT for more buses. Everyone who rides a bus will be required to wear face mask.
The university also said occupancy guidelines will be followed so riders can physically distance from each other. Hand sanitizers will be installed in each bus and a shield will also be installed to protect drivers.
As they get off the bus, riders will be required to wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before removing their mask or face covering. All university transportation will undergo a deep cleaning after each shift.