PRT upgrades to decrease wait time
Published: Monday, September 20, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010 23:09
Two multimillion dollar projects are expected to upgrade the PRT at West Virginia University in less than a year.
The upgrades won't correct the PRT's heating, ventilation and cooling problems, but will decrease waiting time, said Arlie Forman, associate director of the PRT, in an e-mail.
The projects include renovations to the PRT's on-board computer system and vehicle propulsion system, he said.
The on-board computer system project is expected to be done by the end of 2010 and the propulsion system done in about a year, Forman said.
The projects will provide 11 new on-board computer systems and five new propulsion units, he said.
"We anticipate this will increase the fleet size thus reducing the amount of wait time at stations," Forman said.
The on-board computer system will cost $1.6 million and will require an additional $3.56 million to outfit the rest of the vehicles, he said.
The vehicle propulsion system will cost $7.2 million and will take an additional $7.64 million to outfit the rest of the fleet, Forman said.
Recently, the PRT has been experiencing problems with the vehicle's HVAC system at the Medical Center PRT.
The Medical Center PRT was out of operation Sept. 14 through Sept. 16 due to a primary and secondary cooling system failure, he said.
"Due to the tremendous heat generated by the old computer hardware, which runs the station, and with the lack of replacement components, the station had to be shut down in order to avoid permanent computer damage," Forman said.
Replacement parts had to be ordered and shipped to make the repairs, he said.
The Medical Center PRT was in operation Saturday morning at 3 a.m., in time for the football game, he said. PRT staff worked until 7 a.m. Saturday to ensure it was operational.
Upgrades to the on-board computer system and vehicle propulsion system would not correct the problems with the HVAC, Forman said.
"(HVAC) replacement is the best option, and we plan to replace the system at Medical Center Station soon since it has been giving us a lot of trouble," he said.
Thursday, the PRT system was struck by lightning during a storm, and, as a result, was out of operation most of Friday.
The lightning caused problems with the Beechurst PRT station's computer hardware and presence detectors located within the guideway around the station.
"Several presence detectors were knocked out during the storm and needed to be replaced," Forman said. "These detectors are critical to the safe operation of the system."
A circuit board at the Beechurst station was also damaged during the storm.
"These problems sound straight forward, but they actually require a lot of man hours to troubleshoot, diagnose and repair," Forman said. "Replacement parts for the station computers and electronics are in short supply, if available at all, due to their age."
Currently, the Morgantown PRT does have the means to address the larger and more costly upgrades needed for the PRT such as the HVAC, he said.
Morgantown PRT has submitted a grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation for almost $94 million dollars needed for upgrades.
Forman hopes to hear about their status within the next month.
The PRT received more than $8 million for upgrades over the summer, said Hugh Kierig, director of Parking and Transportation, in a previous statement.
The money was used replace a portion of the PRT's boiler systems and normal maintenance, Kierig said.