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Personnel Rapid Transit
2008-07-24 Duke Hospital PRT 4.jpg
Locale Durham, NC, US
Transit type People mover
Number of stations 3
Began operation 1979-12-08
Ended operation 2009
Operator(s) Duke University
Number of vehicles 3
Track gauge concrete guideway

Duke University Medical Center Patient Rapid Transit or Personnel Rapid Transit (PRT) was an automated people mover system located at the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, in the United States.[1] The service is now discontinued. The PRT was notable for having cars propelled by a linear induction motor and suspended on a bed of compressed air[2] similar to a hovercraft. Uniquely, the cars can move sidewards, as well as backwards and forwards.[2] The first transit route to be discontinued from service, during the year of 2008, was the one connecting the Duke South Hospital clinics to/from Duke North Hospital. The second and final route to be shut down was the one connecting Duke Parking Garage II to/from Duke North Hospital (end of 2008—2009). The doorway for the station at Parking Garage II was permanently boarded up and turned into a wall. The leftover tracks and infrastructure remain.

The proclaimed "horizontal elevator" system was designed by Otis Elevator Company during the 1970s, installed beginning in 1977 and opened on December 8, 1979. The people mover was provided with three driverless Hovair vehicles.[3] The concrete guideway was built as double track, connecting the three stations at Duke South, Duke North and Parking Garage II via a tunnel under Erwin Road.[4] The 0.25-mile (<400 m) section between Duke South and Duke North was scheduled to close permanently on October 15, 2009 to allow for expansion of the hospital buildings.[5]


Both ends of each car have a hinged-window for emergency exit.[6]

Otis later installed a variant using the same air-cushion technology, but propelled by wire cable at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and then the Mystic Transportation Centre next to Wellington (MBTA station) in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States.[3]


  1. ^ "PRT Supervisor, Senior". Duke University Job Description. Duke University Human Resources. 2007-12-01. Archived from the original on 2007-07-09.*/ Retrieved 2009-10-17. "... Personnel Rapid Transit system utilized to transport patients, employees, visitors and supplies between Duke Hospital North, Duke Hospital South and Parking Garage II."  
  2. ^ a b Wessner, Laura (December 1978). "Air-cusion people mover". Popular Science (Bonnier Corporation) 213 (No. 6): 64. ISSN 0161-7370. "three 22-passenger ... no rotating parts ... a linear-induction motor propels the cars ... ice, rain and snow don't limit performance ... the cars can move sideways".  
  3. ^ a b Richards, Brian (2001). Horizontal elevators and peoplemovers. Taylor & Francis. p. 130. ISBN 9780415261425. Retrieved 2009-10-17. "developed by Otis ... their first vehicle was called Hovair"  
  4. ^ "Clinic Parking Information". Pediatric Urologic Care. Duke University Division of Urology. Retrieved 2009-10-17. "a walkway and monorail beneath Erwin Road from the garage to Duke Hospital"  
  5. ^ "Tram scrams Oct. 15". Inside Duke Medicine. 2008-09-01. Retrieved 2009-10-17. "in the 1970s when it was announced that a futuristic "horizontal elevator" would ferry ... between the Duke Hospital and its planned North Division. ... the inaugural ride on Dec. 8, 1979, ... Otis Elevator Co. had designed an innovative, pilotless shuttle that travels "on a cushion of air.""  
  6. ^ Peacock (January 1979). "Fire Safety Guidelines for Vehicles in a Downtown People Mover System". Fire Safety Guidelines for Vehicles in a Downtown People Mover System. Center for Fire Research, National Engineering Laboratory, National Bureau of Standards, Washington.  


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