West Virginia University has been chosen as one of the nation’s �€?Best Workplaces for Commuters�€? for its innovative and effective transportation services for employees and students.


WVU was the only organization in the state and one of only 72 colleges and universities nationwide recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation for outstanding commuter benefits, said Bob Roberts, WVU director of public safety and transportation.


�€?WVU’s unique Personal Rapid Transit System, our arrangement with the local Mountain Line bus system and our own University buses were the primary reasons WVU was given this honor,�€? Roberts said.


And, looking to the future, he added, WVU will be announcing some new park-and-ride arrangements and car pooling options to further strengthen commuter services.


WVU ’s PRT has long been recognized as an efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transportation used by thousands of people daily �€including WVU students, faculty and staff, community residents and visitors. The service is free to employees and students with a University ID card.


The electric-powered, computer-driven system was dedicated Oct. 24, 1972, and began carrying passengers in October 1975. To date, the PRT has carried 62.7 million passengers. It has also maintained an impressive safety record, officials say, with no serious injuries reported.


Cars arrive at the five stations �€Downtown Morgantown, Stansbury, Evansdale Residential Complex, Engineering and Health Sciences �€typically within five minutes after a student or employee ID card has been swiped, Roberts said.


WVU ’s arrangement with the Mountain Line bus system allows employees and students to ride the system free �€again with proper University ID. The system runs from one end of the county to another Monday through Saturday �€with the exception of a few major holidays �€with dozens of stops, including downtown, the two local malls, other shopping centers and grocery stores, and major thoroughfares.


Mountain Line also recently added the Grey Line, which transports passengers from Clarksburg , Morgantown and Fairmont to and from Pittsburgh International Airport for a reasonable fare.


WVU ’s bus system is also free to WVU employees as well as students, and makes several stops per day at the Mountainlair, Evansdale Campus locations and the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center . The bus system also offers a shuttle from the Engineering PRT station to the Coliseum every 15 minutes to make it easier on employees and students who park at the Coliseum lot during the day.


The WVU bus system also recently added a Sunday run to the Morgantown Mall from the Mountainlair and Evansdale Residential Complex so students can shop.


University buses are also available to transport students to and from surrounding areas in Pennsylvania , Maryland and Virginia during spring, winter and summer breaks for a reasonable fee. This service is provided in cooperation with the Mountaineer Parents Club.


The city of Morgantown was recently named the 5 th �€?Best Small Metro�€? by Forbes magazine; 15 th in �€?Overall Best Cities�€? by Inc., an online entrepreneurial Web site and magazine; and 29 th among �€?50 Smart Places to Live�€? by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.


This latest commuter ranking also bodes well for Morgantown , adding to its livability by reducing traffic congestion, Roberts said. The transportation services also save employees money by reducing fuel costs and the use of personal vehicles, he noted, and helps slow down urban sprawl by reducing the demand for parking.


Morgantown Mayor Ron Justice commended WVU for this recent honor.


�€?This latest ranking shows the University’s commitment to improving the quality of life of its employees and students by offering effective and cutting-edge transportation services,�€? he said. �€?And, with fewer cars on the road, commuters also help reduce air pollution in the city and cut down on parking and traffic issues.�€?


Lucinda Potter, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science at WVU , rides the Mountain Line bus system four days a week and appreciates the free service.


�€?It has made commuting much less expensive,�€? Potter said. �€?I don’t have the wear and tear on a vehicle. I don’t have to fight for a parking space in a metered lot or buy a permit. Avoiding the hassle and expense of commuting is the best part.�€?


Jason Gross, Student Government Association president, said SGA is thrilled about the ranking and noted that the student organization was instrumental in initiating the arrangement with Mountain Line.


�€?It is great that WVU has been recognized,�€? Gross said. �€?The SGA has always been an advocate for better campus transportation, and we want to continue to search for ways to continually improve transportation.�€?


Best Workplaces for Commuters is a free, voluntary program that recognizes employers nationwide that offer a comprehensive package of commuter benefits. Participating organizations must meet a National Standard of Excellence as defined by program criteria.


Offering the recommended commuter benefits improves employee job satisfaction and saves money from reduced payroll taxes. Employees enjoy reduced stress and delays caused by driving alone to work and save money by using employer-provided commuter benefits and reducing use of personal vehicles.


For more information on this designation and other facts, visitwww.bwc.gov.