Imagine yourself inside a small space, crammed with around 14 other people on a five-minute ride between campuses. Despite TSA requirements, some passengers may decide that it is not worth wearing a mask during a pandemic, thus exhaling their breath into the cramped vehicle.
Sound like fun?
Besides mentioning the risk of getting COVID-19 from your peers, you may not even know if you will get to where you need to go on time. The ride may break down and leave you explaining to your instructor why you were late to class. Call that the thrill of the gamble!
It is time to bring back the shuttle buses.
Last year, a loop of shuttle buses was made between Health Sciences, Evansdale and Downtown, as the PRT was not designed to allow passengers to distance from one another while riding. The buses were quick, held many passengers with room to spare and, if one bus broke down, that did not leave the entire fleet to come to a halt.
It may be worth continuing shuttle buses even when the pandemic ends due to its reliability.
The PRT, though a nostalgic and unique piece of West Virginia University, is increasingly becoming an outdated transportation system of the 1970s. We all enjoy the sight of those yellow carts running up and down the mountains of Morgantown, but what was excitedly called “the ride of the future” fifty years ago is now showing its age with eroding concrete pillars, discontinued mechanical parts and, of course, the breakdowns.
As we are still facing the delta variant of COVID-19, the presence of a driver makes it unsavory for a passenger to ignore the mask requirement.
This is a significant difference from the situation aboard the PRT. On the PRT platforms, if someone does not want to wear a mask, they simply ignore the automated voice overhead.
If a bus driver asks someone to put a mask on, it would be socially unacceptable to refuse to do so.
It is vital to ensure masks are worn aboard campus transportation. When many strangers are close together in an enclosed space, one infected individual not wearing a mask can spell trouble and cause many more infection cases for West Virginia University.
Let us bring back the buses! Let us work with Morgantown to create a better method of transportation.
It is important to recognize that many of the roads here were not built with large shuttle buses in mind, but with many sessions of brainstorming and discussion, we can come up with a wonderful new way of transportation that can succeed the PRT.
We will never forget the PRT, it is a precious part of WVU, but it is time to update our transportation between campuses.
William Irwin, a third-year student at West Virginia University. They are a second-year student in the Landscape Architecture program at the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.