Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fire Bad

Like OMG there was a big gigantic malfunction today involving the Morgantown PRT! Let's go to the coverage:
Investigators were working on Saturday to determine the cause of a transformer fire that caused a power outage at an El Cajon mall, fire officials said-

--oh hold on. That's not the story about Morgantown. That's one of the other 3,690 hits for 'electrical fire' currently being returned by Google News.

Courtesy of Laffable Luddite Ken Avidor, the Morgantown story is:


This is what I wrote back in 2010 about the so-called WVU PRT:
The PRT hucksters will often cite the so-called West Virginia University's Personal Rapid Transit in Morgantown as a successful example of PRT "technology":
A heavy weight PRT network opened in Morgantown, WV in 1975 and has delivered 110 million injury-free passenger miles.
But the WVU PRT is neither PRT (it's really an ordinary, automated people-mover similar to what you see in airports) or successful.

While the crackpot-free version goes something like this:
WBOY-12 Morgantown Jan. 11, 2012

West Virginia University officials responded to an electrical fire at the PRT, Personal Rapid Transit, substation on the Evansdale WVU campus Wednesday afternoon.

A mechanical malfunction which resulted in an electrical fire has interrupted service to passengers.

WVU officials said passengers were in no immediate danger and no injuries have been reported.

The system is expected to be operational by around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The point, of course, is that electrical fires are common throughout the world and not inherent to Personal Rapid Transit. Today's fire was in the substation, the vehicles and track were not involved.

Ken Avidor is basically criticizing PRT for relying on electricity.

Update 1:

Avidor's panic-bashing of the Morgantown PRT is sort of like the time a car crashed into a power pole in a snowstorm, causing a power outage affecting the PRT, and Ken blogged "a snowstorm shut down the PRT."

Update 2:

Avidor's blog headline promises description of "chaos" caused by electrical fire -- then he quotes the Daily Athenaeum article that shows the emergency was handled in a calm, orderly and professional manner.

Students were evacuated, and no one was harmed, according to University officials.

The PRT service was restored by Wednesday evening.

Students, faculty and staff were able to use the Mountain Line bus service and WVU shuttles while the PRT was out of service.

"Normally, when the PRT shuts down for an extended period of time, shuttles are used to transport between stations," Mazzella said.

Max Carozza, a senior finance student, said he was stuck on the PRT for 30 minutes on the track along Beechurst Avenue.

"The lights flickered, and it shut off," he said. "It slowly died. The PRT voice told us to hang tight."

PRT workers then located the car and led the seven people on the PRT tracks to the Beechurst PRT station.

Devin Novak, a sophomore nursing student, said she waited on the PRT for an hour before she was rescued.

"They said it took so long because a girl was claustrophobic and they needed an ambulance for her," Novak said.

Novak asid [sic] that before being rescued, another student on the PRT tried to pry the door open herself, but was quickly told over the car's intercom not to proceed.

"You could tell something bad was happening," she said.

At the opening of his post, Ken re-treats us to part of his conspiracy theory about the Morgantown PRT, that evil transit "concept" that relies on electricity:

...the WVU PRT was created to monkey-wrench conventional modes of transit and will be expected to function as a paragon of "gadgetbahn" for as long as they can keep it going.
The FTA and Recovery Act are supporting the PRT's modernization program, so by "they" Avidor must mean the Federal Government. Can we quote you, Ken, that you believe the Obama Administration and USDOT Sec. Ray LaHood are anti-transit?

But Ken never attacks them as 'infeasible' or 'dangerous'; #ModeBigot.

Update 3:

(3/14/12) - 21,000 in Boston lose power due to transformer fire. Hey Avidor, maybe this is connected to the Raytheon PRT test center that used to be in Marlborough!


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