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Duke's PRT tram to (mostly) shut down October 15

Duke_hospital_prt For years, it's been an odd asterisk in North Carolina's record book: the only underground transit system in our state has been located in Durham.

And there's a good chance you never knew it existed.

Not that anyone would mistake Duke's Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system for a full-fledged urban transit system. Hailing from the halcyon days of the late 1970s, when such concepts were definitely in, the PRT provides a miniature subway car-style experience connecting Duke North hospital with the Duke South clinics.

Come Oct. 15, though, the PRT goes the way of bell-bottom pants and disco. Well, at least the main segment does; the trams will remain between Duke North and the parking garage, but the longer, main circuit between hospital facilities will be gone to make room for the hospital's forthcoming half-billion-dollar-plus expansion.

N&O writer Eric Ferreri has more in today's paper:

A covered walkway that follows roughly the same route between the Duke's north and south facilities will remain open and will likely be more heavily traveled, as Duke Medicine is encouraging employees to walk once the tram is gone.

But there will be other ways around as well. Patients will be transported via ambulance. Shuttles will whisk people from one facility to the other, and electric cars similar to golf carts also will be used.

Comments

Tar Heelz

None of the replacement concepts promise to equal muchless surpass the utility of the existing monorail system.

This is a real loss.

Rob

I was always afraid to ride the PRT because I was told on my first day that it frequently gets stuck.

I myself prefer walking. However, I can definitely see the utility in having the PRT for elderly patients and their visitors. It is quite a distance between the two hospitals.

Dan R

Yea, it makes way more sense to have an ambulance used to transport patients-the typical American way (maybe they will pave a 4-lane road between Duke North and South so patients can drive their cars between the 2 buildings).

Lenore

I found it very entertaining when I was a toddler, but I was in it once when it basically accelerated out of control and then got stuck. I haven't been willing to get in it since.

Terry

I always did breathe a sigh of relief when I would actually arrive at Duke South...so actually rarely rode it. My kids loved it though, whenever they were with me at work.

By the way, it's not a monorail. They are hovercrafts, which is why, when they first start up, you can feel them rise up a bit, and then lower themselves back down when they arrive. These vehicles are no longer made, and I think that the mechanical staff at Duke has done a admirable job keeping them running as well as they have all these years.

KFes

sorry to come in so late on this post, but I used to work at Duke Hospital in the late 80s and my job sometimes involved going from North to South and vice versa...I loved the hell outta that little tram/hovercraft/whatever...at that time, it seemed so modern and futuristic...dare I say in many ways it still does

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