Affordable Access

Law's artefacts: Personal rapid transit and public narratives of hitchhiking and crime.

  • Cole, Simon A
  • Bertenthal, Alyse
Publication Date
Mar 18, 2024
eScholarship - University of California
External links


The West Virginia University (WVU) Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system was built between 1971 and 1975 in Morgantown, West Virginia to be a prototype transportation system of the future. Envisioned as a hybrid of public and automotive transportation, the fully automated cars deliver passengers directly to their destinations without stopping at intervening stations. The PRT concept may be familiar to STS scholars through Latour's study of Aramis, a PRT in Paris that was never completed. This article recounts a history with the opposite ending: the successful realization of a PRT in West Virginia. Our account supplements existing ones, which explain the construction of the WVUPRT primarily as the product of geography and politics. While not denying these factors, we carve out an explanatory role for another influence: a public narrative about the dangers of hitchhiking and crimes that might ensue from that practice. In weaving together that narrative with the history of the WVUPRT, we show how public narratives of crime authorize technological infrastructure.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times