U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-WV, Thursday (Sept. 6) announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has released $3.97 million that the Senator added to a federal appropriations bill for enhancements to West Virginia Universitys (WVU) Personal Rapid Transit System (PRT) in Morgantown.

“Since its launch in 1972, WVU s PRT has transported 54-million passengers over 20-million miles with an unblemished safety record. But like any long-running transportation system, the PRT requires periodic maintenance and repair work. This more than $3.9 million will allow the university to rehabilitate and upgrade the PRT so that WVU s students, faculty, staff, and visitors can continue to utilize this important and efficient system,”Byrd said.

“The funding will help the university to avert potential delays and breakdowns that could cause problems for those who rely on the PRT for its dependable service,”Byrd explained.

The PRT , which connects WVU s Downtown, Evansdale, and Health Sciences Center campuses, consists of 8.2 miles of guideway, five passenger stations, and a fleet of 71 fully automated vehicles. The funding will allow the university to replace the almost 30-year-old heating system within the guideways that keeps the vehicle paths clear of snow and ice.

“Thanks to the generous support of Senator Byrd, we can continue our efforts to revitalize all facets of the PRT to better serve the university community. When the system was dedicated in 1972, it was ahead of its time. The funding that Senator Byrd has provided will allow the PRT to remain a cutting-edge transportation model for college and university campuses across the country,” WVU President David Hardesty said.

The more than $3.9 million for rehabilitation of the heating system complements the $4.2 million that Byrd added to a Fiscal Year 1997 appropriations bill to upgrade the PRT s computer system.

“The previous upgrades to the PRT s computers and the upcoming repair work on the heating system will help to breathe new life into the almost 30-year-old transportation system,”Byrd said.