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But now, 32 years after it began operating, the P. With commuting times increasing in the region, the university, which operates the system, is considering expanding it.
The two leading proposals are an extension at the southern end of the line along the Monongahela River into the Wharf District, which city officials hope will be a mix of hotels, restaurants and retail shops; another would go farther north into the research park the university is developing, an area that could become home to a distant park-and-ride facility. The driverless, passenger fiberglass cars, gliding on rubber wheels and powered by electric motors, pick up riders and deliver them to their stops quickly, bypassing intermediate stations along the concrete and steel guide way.
But it is also expensive. University and local government officials realize they are not likely to get the federal government to finance the expansion, as it did the original project.
They are talking about coming up with local and state financing. Not everyone thinks so highly of the P. Richmond, a transportation expert, said in an e-mail message from Singapore, where he is advising the government. From July to June , some 2. After a decline in ridership during the s, the number of rides has increased roughly 10 percent a year over the last five years, but nonstudent and nonemployee ridership has stayed relatively constant, about 80, rides a year.
View all New York Times newsletters. The system essentially breaks even after the university picks up the cost for university employees and everyone else pays 50 cents per ride. Though Morgantown was and is a relatively small urban area — 63, people in versus 84, now — getting students to class on time became a challenge in the s when the university outgrew its downtown campus and opened a campus in Evansdale two miles away.
The idea might have died a swift political death, but when it was proposed in it served the political needs of President Richard M. Nixon, who wanted a demonstration project to usher in an era of urban mass transit. One researcher proposed that students be given golf carts so that at least they could ride them on the P.
The first phase was opened in Despite the early missteps, the P. It is so reliable that after moving to Morgantown a year ago, Ms. Ganguly sold her car. Still, it does not run often enough for people who do not attend the university or work there.
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