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Let's Talk!

The next VRE online forum will start on Wednesday, April 1st at 12:00pm. Click on the "VRE" Button below to submit a question.


 
There are currently 36 questions waiting to be answered.

VRE Management:
Thanks again for joining us today. If you don’t already know, joining our regular chat staff today is Nat Parker, CEO of GlobeSherpa. They are currently helping us develop our mobile ticketing app. You may see some beta testers on the train in a few weeks and we hope to make it available to our riders later in this spring. So be sure to ask as many mobile ticketing app questions as you can while he is here.
Meet the Management season starts April 29th at Union Station. This is your opportunity to come and meet VRE’s management face to face for all afternoon trains starting at 3:30pm. We will also be demonstrating the mobile ticketing app and presenting various safety messages.
Now on with the questions.



Devin from chesapeake asks:
What is the mandatory crew rest time

VRE Management:
If for an example, a Conductor works 12 consecutive hours the mandatory rest time is no less than 8 hours uninterrupted.






devin from chesapeake asks:
Where do the trains go after they end at manassas

VRE Management:
The trains are secured in our storage and maintenance train yard.






devin from chesapeake asks:
do you all give cab rides

VRE Management:
No, not unless extreme circumstances occur.



Leon from Manassas, VA asks:
I smoking allowed in the Manassas Parking Garage? Every morning I have to hold my breath while navigating through four or five people that have decided right next to the exit door is an ideal smoking area.

VRE Management:
We will put out a courtesy reminder.



Jon from Washington, DC asks:
Where does the toilet go on the train? This is very important!

VRE Management:
The toilet drains to a series of specially designed effluent tanks that treat the material and allows it to settle. See our link at http://gotrains.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/let-get-mechanical






John from Manassas asks:
Are there plans to lengthen the platform at Crystal City? When there are delay's with the Fredericksburg 305 and Manassas 329, it get dangerously crowded.

VRE Management:
We have no immediate plan to lengthen the platform at Crystal City.






Holly from Broad Run asks:
We have all been on a delayed train and recieved a FRC. While this is nice, maybe with what seems like more delays we should play train bingo. A card stamped by VRE conductors for issues like speed restrictions, freight train delay, our favorite VIP movement at Union Station, mechanical issues, or our more sad issues which brings us a four hour delay. Once you fill your card you get like a VRE tote bag or some other VRE swag.

VRE Management:
The FRCs are the only compensation we currently plan to offer.






Dave from manassas asks:
Do your new locomotives have a on board heating system powered by the 480v shore power to keep the engine warm below 40 degrees, and eliminate the need for idling?

VRE Management:
Yes, we plug all of our equipment with this feature each night.






robert from Potomac Shores asks:
Why isn't the Westside entrance and bus/kiss and ride used at Woodbridge?

VRE Management:
This entrance is open for passenger use. However, a redevelopment project by VDOT will close this in the near future.






Christine from Stafford, VA asks:
Are the conductors instructed or allowed to ask passengers who are speaking loudly (as if they are in their living room) to lower their voice? Or ask passengers who have music so loud that the entire car can hear it, (despite the earphones) to lower the music? I realize there is a Quiet Car, but even in the other cars passengers frequently talk on their phone the entire commute or to a fellow passenger in the same volume as if they are in their living room or in a bar. Some passengers have their music so loud that despite the earphones, you can hear it throughout the car. It is very disturbing

VRE Management:
Courtesy Reminder.






Christine from Stafford, VA asks:
Do you know when Fredericksburg line train 310 and train 311 will be updated to the newer rail cars? We only have one new car, with the rest being the older models.

VRE Management:
Rich. Newer cars are expected first quarter in 2016.






Don from Stafford, VA asks:
Can something be done to make the gravel parking lot better at Leland Road. Road coming in from Conway Elementary School to the hard surface parking lot is in bad shape.

VRE Management:
We will have our Facility’s Manager investigate the parking lot.






Matt from Manassas asks:
Has there been any discussion about a expansion of the Manassas Line?

VRE Management:
No, not at this time. See our link at www.vre.org/aboutt/strategic/strategic-plan.htm






Janet from Spotsylvania, Virginia asks:
Will Amtrak stop at the new Crossroads station?

VRE Management:
No, not at this time.






David from Fredericksburg VA asks:
This morning as I was waiting to catch the train there was a young boy pushing a loaded baggage cart along the platform. He started running with it and pushed it right into a piling where he suddenly vanished. Is this normal or did he have a special express ticket?

VRE Management:
Email us details at gotrain@vre.org.






JR from Stafford asks:
Ive not heard of any plans to expand the number of cars or trains while adding the new station on the Fredericksburg line in Spotsylvania. The 300 train is packed after leaving Leeland and Brooke so what contingency plans are in place? It's a very long ride to DC and passengers should not be expected to stand that long nor should they have to pay full fare if they have to stand up.

VRE Management:
An additional train set is being added to the service on or about the time the new station opens, hopefully that will reduce crowding.



Danny from Manassas, VA asks:
Why is it necessary to have those stupid quiet car PSAs in the quiet car? It's supposed to be QUIET!

VRE Management:
For safety and security reasons, the public announcement system will continue to be used even in the quiet car.






Danny from Manassas, VA asks:
Is there a published set of VRE riding etiquette rules? I've had to endure the most ridiculous hot air, wind bag phone calls from people feeling it's OK to blab incessantly about nothing for over an entire hour that it makes me want to grab their phones, throw them on the ground and stomp on them!

VRE Management:
Unfortunately “etiquette” and “rules” are difficult things and hard to control. We always remind our passengers that courtesy to others is important and appreciated. See our link at www.vre.org/service/newsletter/2012/august.pdf.



Jack from Massaponax asks:
How is Spotsy station coming along? Any progress photos you can post?

VRE Management:
We are still expected to open this summer.






Sharon from Manassas VA asks:
Please define the location of the smoking area at L'Enfant Plaza. Smokers are standing beside the sign pointing to the smoking area but are not smoking in the designated smoking area which is several yards away. The smoke filters into the crowds waiting in line for the train. Is the smoking area located at the end of the platform? Thank you

VRE Management:
The smoking area is designated at the north end of the platform.






Greg from Springfield, VA asks:
How much longer will it be before VRE has WiFi on the Manassas line trains? Its really difficult to connect without it.

VRE Management:
As previously mentioned, VRE has tested devices with the current cell technology on both lines. There are still significant areas that do not get a signal.



Curious from Crystal City asks:
Who decides which question to delete/ignore in this forum because, I can only assume you don't like the answer you'd have to give? I previously asked how VRE can in good conscience report a bogus on-time rating. You are constantly greater than 5 min late leaving stations other than the last stop, yet report on-time stats ignoring that fact. Clearly the minority of your riders go all the way to the last stop on each line, each way. Pants on fire much?

VRE Management:
On time performance is based on arrival time at the final destination. We are in the process of reevaluating our schedules to make the times at the intermediate stations more accurate. In the meantime, it is important to note we will not depart the stations earlier than the time listed on the schedules.



Tim from Nokesville, VA asks:
Are there any plans to clean up the sand in the parking lots from the winter? Broad Run is terrible, aside from the nuisance factor of getting into cars and shoes I've seen people slipping on the sand and my own car has slipped a bit, it's not safe. It is an excessive amount of sand that has worn out it's usefullness.

VRE Management:
We will pass this along to our Facilities’ Manager.



Bob from Woodville, VA asks:
Do you have records of on each day how many minutes before scheduled departure time the track gets posted at Union Station, and at what time the train arrives at its pickup location? It seems to me that you cannot make a case for better service from Union Station unless you know just how bad current service is. If you do not have that data, would you like for someone to maintain it for you?

VRE Management:
We are working towards improving current service at Union Station.






Debbie from Broad Run, VA asks:
Since we are finally to a point where no more snow is expected, I was wondering if it was possible to send someone out to the Broad Run Station to sweep up all the sand in the parking lot when its empty. It makes it a little hard to walk in some places. Thank you.

VRE Management:
We will alert our Facilities Manager of this request.



L from Burke asks:
You know, I really try to park decently (i.e., between the lines, and more-or-less parallel to them), but it's impossible when there are no lines, or the lines are so faint that they're not visible in dim light. When, oh when, is Fairfax going to re-stripe the parking deck at Burke Centre? Any idea?

VRE Management:
We will alert Fairfax County of this.






Eva from Lorton, VA asks:
When will VRE extend the platform at the Lorton Station? We were told last year that a company had been selected for the project and all you had to do was give the go ahead. Yet - no extension to date.

VRE Management:
This project is currently on hold.






S from Fredericksburg VA asks:
I ride the 302 out of Leeland. There are two VERY annoying conductors. They socialize the entire time on the train.Male conductor stands at the seat of whoever he is chatting & only moves when train goes in station& doors must be opened. Female conductor extremely loud and never stops talking even in quiet car recently someone in that car told her to be quiet.She walks along aisle and slaps the area above the seats to say hello to riders/still talking. Complaints have been made but they continue. This is a early train. We nap/read. We don't need/want this noise/rudeness. Can SOMETHING be done?

VRE Management:
We will make sure the crew managers are aware of this.






Manassas 328 from Manassas asks:
Want to thank the conductor on Manassas line 328 Wednesday morning. He actually went through and check for zone 1 tickets after we left Crystal City. So many people cheat the system by $20 a month when they ride from Crystal City to DC on a zone 2 ticket. Glad to see you all are aware of this.

VRE Management:
Thanks for the compliment.






Mel from Burke, VA asks:
Why did it take so long for the FRCs to be distributed on 337 Tuesday night? We sat just south of Alexandria but conductor's did not start to distribute FRCs until after Rolling Rd, leaving people to find a conductor when they got off the train and get one. Even in situations when hardly any room for more people to get on the train, took less time to distribute FRCs.

VRE Management:
Once the train hits 30 or more minutes late, FRCs should be distributed. FRCs were distributed shortly after the 30 minute delay occurred last night. If any passenger did not receive an FRC, they should request one at our website at http://vre.org/programs/PDF/frc-request.pdf



Ron from Woodbridge,VA asks:
I live within 6 buildings of the Rippon train station. I would love to ride the train it takes way to get to DC. Any chance of a fewer stop/s train? The cost is crazy high why are you raising prices again? Every year it goes up but not our pay checks.

VRE Management:
We have no current plans for additional express trains.



Patricia from Fredericksburg, VA asks:
I ride the 507 departing Alexandria at 5:03pm and I have noticed increased ridership with little or no seating until Rippon or sometimes Quantico. I depart at LeeLand. Is there a plan add cars to this train? Thank you.

VRE Management:
The additional Fredericksburg train will help this situation.



Dave from Woodbridge, Va asks:
When will the new Fredricksburg train start running? Do you all have morning/evening times yet?

VRE Management:
We are still working to finalize the schedule.






Big D from WB asks:
How often are the conductors supposed to check tickets? On the 300 Express I think they "might" check our tickets about once every 5-6 weeks. Some afternoon trains they check daily.

VRE Management:
The Conductors should be checking tickets in every car and on every train unless they are addressing an issue related to the safe operation of the train.



Richard from Bristow, VA asks:
Sirs; Two concerns, first is that Broad Run/Airport access road is in bad repair with uneven asphalt and pot holes lined up from the viaduct to the turn onto the access road. I understand that is not your responsibility, but could you alert the county of the desperate need for repair? This is my third request and have not received a response back from VRE on the County's intention. My second concern is that VRE should be responsible for their area of concern; namely, the parking lot. It is a sandbox!! It gets into clothes on windy days, interior of cars and clogs air filters. Please remove.

VRE Management:
We will as our Facilities Manager to speak with the County and get a definitive answer.






Harry from Fredericksburg Va asks:
I was on one of your platforms and seem to have dropped my wand. If anyone turns it in can you return it to me. It's rather valuable and may cause a bit of michief if a person isn't careful how they handle it. Just hold it above your head and say Hogwarts. An owl will fly by and take it. It will know where to deliver it. Thank you.

VRE Management:
Thanks for that comment today, April 1st.






Take a seat from Fredericksburg asks:
I get on the 303 at Quantico and everyday its a struggle to get on the train due to people standing in the vestibule and blocking the walkway. There is a message every afternoon asking riders to stay seated till their stop and do not block the walk ways. Even the conductor makes an announcement everyday to remind riders to sit until their stop is announced. There are plenty of seats on an average day, so not sure what the problem is. Why can't or doesn't the conductor enforce this policy??

VRE Management:
You just listed a number of items the Conductors are doing to address queuing. We ask compliance from our riders on this issues.






GS from Burke asks:
Last month, I asked a question that you essentially dodged. My question: It seems that lately, we have a fare increase every year, while our colleagues who ride MARC have not had a fare increase in about ten years. Can you comment? Your answer: We did not have a fare increase in 2014. Would you mind providing an answer that addresses why we have NEAR annual increases, but MARC has not had an increase in about 10 years.

VRE Management:
We’re funded differently than MARC. MARC is funded by the state. VRE is funded by local jurisdictions and our tariff requires us to achieve a higher fare recovery than other train agencies.



Michael from Stafford, Virginia asks:
Why does VRE risk the appearance of discrimination based on Race, Sex, and Age on Southbound VRE train 303? Specifically, for the last month the conductor appears to target individuals to enforce the cueing rules in a manner that could be construed as discriminatory. If the conductors friends approach they have been seen talking to the conductor in the vestibule while others are told to sit down until their stop is reached. Why cant the cueing rules be either equally enforced or better yet not enforced at all?

VRE Management:
Several VRE staff ride this train daily and there are plenty of seats available in the rear of the train.



Scott from Stafford asks:
I have been a longtime rider of 306 and 313 out of Leeland and have never been really affected by the queueing issue. This past Friday I took 303. I almost was unable to get off at Leeland because of all the Fredericksburg riders blocking the path in the last two cars. Some riders were even making fun of my "excuse mes" with snarky remarks of "no queuing." Two conductors I complained to said that we do announcements but they don't do any good and that I should complain to VRE. How about a grade school policy of no station departures until all are seated?

VRE Management:
Again we will continue to work with crews. It’s very hard to police queuing.



Roy from Manassas, VA asks:
What joker decided to make a toilet car as the quiet car? Train 327 has this situation. Revolving door of people and noise due to having the toilet car and the quiet car together.

VRE Management:
We place bathrooms on board the train so that riders never have to walk more than 2 or 3 cars. Unfortunately, we cannot always guarantee where the exact placement of a car with a restroom will be since cars often get switched out for maintenance.



Tim from Woodbridge, VA asks:
Why did VRE set fares to be 50% of its operating budget? According to article about MBTA who's Keolis conductors aren't always checking tickets, fares are 30% of its operating budget. We should note, that MTBA operates 400 daily trains vs VRE's 30 daily trains http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/03/19/commuter-rail-customers-fume-about-conductors-who-let-some-ride-free/xqj64hAfjDdzWVgMqIaLmL/story.html

VRE Management:
The General Assembly established the minimum fare recovery ratio at 50% when VRE was formed.



Shelley from PW County, Virginia asks:
Broad Run parking has been greatly expanded, but handicapped slots were not; with the result being that you have to get there by the 3rd train out or face a long hobble to the platform, even if your workday begins much later. Any chance of more handicapped parking spots at Broad Run . . .?

VRE Management:
We do not have plans to add any more accessible parking spaces at this time.






Nancy from leeland va asks:
I see many people parking in handicap spots, that really dont look like they need too! I know that you cannot tell someones issue by looking at them, but someday you should do a sweep of the l-plates and check with dmv to make sure they are legit! there are many people I see stuggling to walk due to over crowding of those spots.

VRE Management:
We can ask local law enforcement to make periodic checks.






Gary from Alexandria asks:
Could you invite other special guests and make this hour a little more topical. Complaints are ok, but we have other avenues to submit those. For example, maybe you could invite Dale to come back for a session, or the new CEO to talk about their vision for commuter rail. Then this could be an exchange of ideas, not complaining about WIFI :-). Thanks!!

VRE Management:
Good idea!



David from Rippon, VA asks:
Why is VRE ignoring negative comments about the propose fare increase and raises fares anyways? I read in the board agenda/minutes about someone opposed to the fare increase because it is a burden, but VRE seems to ignore it

VRE Management:
All comments are made part of the public record for determining whether or not a proposed fare increase is approved.



Rich from Fredericksburg asks:
I heard today that the Old Town Commuter store will be closing. Is there another place where we can pick up our tickets?

VRE Management:
If Old Town Transit shop closes, we will sell tickets from our office in Alexandria.



Jaime from Fredericksburg asks:
Hi Mr. Parker, question about mobile ticketing. Does mobile ticketing implies a broad functionality such as buying any type ticket onboard, validating a 10-ride ticket from station vending machine, and any type of payment method like CC, debit, SmartCard, cash??. Thank you!!

VRE Management:
Nat says -we are very happy to launch the mobile app this Spring. The app will allow passengers to purchase any type of fare including reduced fare tickets. The app let users pay with debit, credit, PayPal and most importantly SmartBenefits. You can purchase tickets anytime and anywhere but you must validate your ticket on your phone before boarding a VRE train. It’s just a couple of clicks to ride.



Dave from Nokesville asks:
I'm confused about how the mobile ticketing app will work. Does it mean we don't need to carry paper tickets? I'm a monthly pass user. Could you please explain here or point me at another source?

VRE Management:
Nat says-the mobile ticketing app will allow you to use the monthly pass or any other VRE fare with just your smartphone, no more paper tickets needed.



scott from lorton asks:
What is the construction going on just south/west of l'enfant station towards the Potomac. Looks like CSX is putting in more tracks

VRE Management:
Brian says-as part of CSX's National Gateway project, a temporary track is being constructed to be utilized while existing tracks are lowered to increase clearances to accommodate more efficient double - stack intermodal freight trains. Visit Nationalgateway.org for more information.



Mike from Manassas, VA asks:
1. For the mobile app, can purchased ticket be saved on the phone and show it when is needed? 2. For monitor screens at stations, can you add the time (Ex: 02:11PM) data as well?

VRE Management:
Nat says - yes tickets can be purchased at anytime and stored for later use.



Craig from Bristow, VA asks:
My company is enrolling in the SmartBenefits program. How will the mobile app work with SmartBenefits? Will the payments be able to be made on-line vs at the store?

VRE Management:
Nat says-yes, absolutely SmartBenefits can be added through the app or an e-commerce website. We will provide more information in the coming weeks.



Cameron from Montclair, VA asks:
Will your mobile ticketing app be BlackBerry friendly? Thanks!

VRE Management:
Nat says-the initial version of the app will be for iOS and Android. Subsequent versions will support Blackberry and Windows versions.



Roger from Chantilly, VA asks:
How will conductors verify a mobile ticket? How will they be validated?

VRE Management:
Nat says-riders will present a ticket on the screen of their smartphone when asked just like paper tickets.



mike from manassas va asks:
For the mobile app, will it be able to store ticket and validate it with some kind short range wireless device on vre conductor's hand? like NFC

VRE Management:
Nat says-the initial version will rely on visual inspection but future versions may support this feature.


VRE Management:
Thanks for all the great questions. Our special guest had a great time. Remember we will start Meet the Management on Wednesday, April 29th at Union Station. We hope to see you there.
If your question wasn't answered please submit them at gotrains@vre.org
See tracks, think train!
Rich, Chris, et al.

VRE Management:
Thanks for all the great questions. Our special guest had a great time. Remember we will start Meet the Management on Wednesday, April 29th at Union Station. We hope to see you there.
If your question wasn't answered please submit them at gotrains@vre.org
See tracks, think train!
Rich, Chris, et al.

VRE Management:
Thanks again for joining us today. If you don’t already know, joining our regular chat staff today is Nat Parker, CEO of GlobeSherpa. They are currently helping us develop our mobile ticketing app. You may see some beta testers on the train in a few weeks and we hope to make it available to our riders later in this spring. So be sure to ask as many mobile ticketing app questions as you can while he is here.
Meet the Management season starts April 29th at Union Station. This is your opportunity to come and meet VRE’s management face to face for all afternoon trains starting at 3:30pm. We will also be demonstrating the mobile ticketing app and presenting various safety messages.
Now on with the questions.


VRE Management:
Thanks again for joining us today. If you don’t already know, joining our regular chat staff today is Nat Parker, CEO of GlobeSherpa. They are currently helping us develop our mobile ticketing app. You may see some beta testers on the train in a few weeks and we hope to make it available to our riders later in this spring. So be sure to ask as many mobile ticketing app questions as you can while he is here.
Meet the Management season starts April 29th at Union Station. This is your opportunity to come and meet VRE’s management face to face for all afternoon trains starting at 3:30pm. We will also be demonstrating the mobile ticketing app and presenting various safety messages.
Now on with the questions.


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