Recent Blog Posts
What is the rider's responsibility? — We have long stated that we expect only two things from our riders: to be on the platform and ready to board before the train's arrival and to validate one's ticket before boarding the train. If one boards the train without a validated ticket, then that individual is at risk of receiving a citation for fare evasion.
What is fare evasion? - The Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia Â§18.2-160.1 states any person who boards or rides a train when they fail to properly validate a train ticket is in violation of the law, and any person who violates this provision is subject to a civil penalty. Therefore, all tickets must be validated PRIOR to boarding the train. The moment a passenger steps aboard the train without a valid ticket, fare evasion has been committed.
What constitutes as a valid ticket? - VRE offers a variety of tickets: a Monthly pass, a Transit Link Card, a Ten Ride ticket, a Five Day Pass, a Two Ride ticket, a Single Ride ticket and a Free Ride Certificate. So how do you know how to validate your ticket type?
For a Monthly Ticket or a Transit Link Card (TLC) you simply sign the back of the ticket and it is considered valid.
For a Ten-Ride, Two-Ride, Single-Ride and Free Ride Certificates, you must place these tickets into a ticket vending machine (TVM) located on the platform. When the TVM prints a date stamp, the available ride is removed from your ticket and a validation is printed on the face of the ticket. These tickets must be validated each time you board.
To validate a Five Day Pass, place your ticket into the TVM located on the platform. Then the machine will print an expiration validation across the front of your ticket. This ticket only needs to validate the first time it is used. Note: This ticket is AM/PM sensitive.
Remember: All tickets are only valid between their designated zones.
What is the conductor's responsibility? - If a conductor checks a ticket and finds that it has not been validated, or you are found to be riding outside of your zones, the conductor is required by VRE to issue a summons. As we first mentioned, it is the rider's responsibility to make sure they validate their ticket prior to boarding the train, and by boarding our trains the rider has consented to our policies.
We understand there may be reasons why someone may not validate a ticket, but the summons issuing process is not the time to state your case. In the conductor's eyes, you either have a valid ticket or you don't.
Why does the conductor take my ticket? - As the plaintiff VRE has the burden of evidence, therefore, your ticket will be confiscated so that the can examine the ticket in question.
Why does VRE insist on having the Conductor issue a summons? - Our goal is to keep our fares as low as possible, while continuing to maintain our current level of service. Passenger fares cover 55% of our operating costs. If riders do not validate their tickets or don't have a ticket, then VRE's revenue goes down. Keep in mind that your fare pays for more than just your trip. We use those funds to pay for parking lot leases, station maintenance, and all the other items that go along with providing train service. Unfortunately, the best way to ensure that everyone takes this seriously is to enforce the policy. And we enforce the policy by writing summons'. The best way to not get a summons is to make sure you have a valid ticket every time you board the train.
Under what circumstances can I be issued a summons?
- Failure to validate any type of ticket, including FRCs
- Traveling outside the designated zones
- No remaining rides for travel
- No ticket
- Counterfeit ticket
Is this policy customer service friendly? - Those who receive a summons probably don't think so. However, with a ridership around 20,000, if we can police a policy that helps to prevent an increase in fares for those 20,000, then for the majority of our ridership we are being customer service friendly.
What happens if I receive a fare evasion summons? - Once a fare evasion summons is written there are a few options: 1. Prepayment - Fare evasion prepayments are accepted by the general district court until 3:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on the last business day before your court date. Payment in the amount of $100 fine + $94 court cost.
Note: Pre-court payments are deemed a waiver of a court hearing and entry of a guilty plea.
A. District courts accept personal checks, money orders, certified checks and credit cards.
B. Prepayments can only be made by mailing in your payment or paying at the court.
C. Mail your payment to the Alexandria General District Court, P.O. Box 320489, Alexandria, VA 22320-4489. Visit the Court: 520 King Street, Second Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314.
D. Online payment is not available at this time.
If you have any questions, call the clerk's office at 703-746-4030.
2. Attend court on your scheduled date to plead your case before a judge. This is when you have the chance to state your case. Writing emails to gotrains and calling our office will only get you a standarized response, which is “Once the summons is written, it is out of our hands”. A judge is the only authority that can reduce the fine or dismiss the case. The conductor who issued the summons will also appear and the judge will make a ruling.
3. A request for waiver may be submitted only if you were the owner of valid monthly ticket at the time the summons was issued. Pursuant to the Tariff of the VRE 04.07.00, you must send a clear copy of the front and back of the ticket, proof of purchase along with a copy of the summons within 3 business days of the issue date on the citation. Request for waivers can be mailed, faxed, or emailed. Requests for waivers should be mailed to:
Virginia Railway Express
Attn: Fare Evasion Waiver
1500 King Street, Suite 202
Alexandria, VA 22314
What happens when I go to court? - Court will be held on the scheduled date at the Alexandria General District. The issuing conductor will also be in attendance. Once the judge hears both sides, a ruling will be issued. If found guilty, the rider will need to pay the fine and court costs, which go to the Commonwealth and not to VRE. If dismissed, there are no fines or fees that need to be paid.
What happens after court? — Tickets are not automatically sent back to the rider. Passengers may send a request for the remaining value of the ticket once all fines are paid. Please email your request to email@example.com be sure to include your name, mailing address, and summons number.
- Temporary cost reduction of a single-ride Amtrak Step-Up
- May 17, 2019
We've temporarily lowered the cost of a single-ride Amtrak Step-Up ticket from $8 to $4!
While VRE is unable to run additional or longer trains, the temporary reduction is part of VRE’s effort to accommodate Metrorail passengers during this summer’s closure of six stations south of National Airport for platform repairs.
- OmniRide Adds Free VRE Shuttles During Metro's Summer Shutdown
- May 10, 2019
OmniRide will offer FREE shuttle service connecting residents with two nearby Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Stations during Metro’s summer shutdown. The shuttles will begin operating on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 and will continue until Metro reopens the six Blue and Yellow line stations that are scheduled to undergo major repairs.
The Dale City shuttle will start at the Dale City Commuter Lot at Minnieville Road and Gemini Way. It will serve multiple stops along Dale Boulevard before connecting riders with the Rippon VRE Station.
The Lake Ridge shuttle will start at the Tackett’s Mill Commuter Lot at Old Bridge Road and Minnieville Road. It will serve multiple stops along Old Bridge Road before connecting riders with the Woodbridge VRE Station.
The shuttles will operate four trips in the mornings, and those trips will be timed to meet specific VRE trains. In the afternoons and evenings, OmniRide shuttles will meet each VRE train at the Rippon and Woodbridge VRE stations so riders can disembark from the train and ride the shuttle back to their neighborhoods and/or commuter lots. Shuttle service timetables and maps are posted at OmniRide.com.
“VRE is a tremendous resource for Prince William County, and it serves some of the same destinations as the six Metro stations that will be closed all summer. OmniRide is happy to work with our friends at VRE to lighten the burden of commuting during Metro’s summer shutdown,” said PRTC Board Chair Ruth Anderson.
As an added benefit, commuter parking in the Prince William County area is free, so OmniRide passengers will be able to park and ride the shuttles at no charge.
Potomac Mills Mall will increase the number of parking spaces it sets aside for commuters during Metro’s summer shutdown, making it easier for commuters to park close to home and ride one of OmniRide’s regularly scheduled bus services. OmniRide Express buses that serve the Potomac Mills area have destinations including the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station, Washington, D.C., and the Washington Navy Yard.
“With the upcoming closing of six local Metro stops, Potomac Mills welcomes affected commuters to access free parking in the mall’s commuter lot – available near Costco and Restaurant Plaza,” said Jen Snitselaar, General Manager, Potomac Mills Mall. “Working closely with OmniRide operators, our hope is to provide convenience to commuters, while keeping the roads clear and safe throughout the work period. Not to mention, no better way to break up a commute than easy access to great shopping!”
- FRED Transit to Start New Quantico VRE Feeder Service in May 2019
- April 8, 2019
Beginning Wednesday, May 1, 2019, FREDericksburg Regional Transit (FRED) will start early morning and late afternoon feeder bus service between Aquia Towne Center, the north VDOT commuter lot on Route 610/Garrisonville Road and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) station in Quantico, VA. The service is made possible through a partnership among Stafford County, the Federal Transit Administration, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and FRED, and Marine Corps Base Quantico.
In the morning, the new service will meet VRE trains 302 (departing Quantico for Washington at 5:40 am) and 312 (departing for Washington at 7:41 am). In the evenings, the new service will meet southbound VRE trains 303 (arriving at 4:15 pm) and 311 (arriving at 6:20 pm). The service will operate Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays.
The first bus in the morning will depart FRED Stop #36 at Aquia Towne Center at 4:45 am, stop at the FRED shelter at the north VDOT commuter lot off of Route 610/Garrisonville Road, travel north on Route 1 to Stop #502 at the intersection with Acadia Street (at Potomac Hills development), continue north where it will make two stops in the Quantico Corporate Center, and then onto the Marine Base to the VRE station. On the return trip the bus will depart the train station at 5:35 am and make stops on base at the Marsh Building and the Davis Building before returning to Aquia Towne Center by the reverse route.
The second morning bus will depart Aquia Towne Center at 6:30 am and follow the same route as the first bus. It will depart the train station at 7:20 am and return to Aquia Towne Center at 8:10 am.
Upon entering the Marine base, all passengers will be required to show a valid picture ID. The ID may be a Virginia or other state driver’s license, an ID issued by the Federal government, or a state-issued picture ID in lieu of a driver’s license.
The first bus in the afternoon will depart the VRE station at 4:25 pm, with stops on base at the Marsh Building and the Davis Building, the Quantico Corporate Center, Acadia Street, the north VDOT commuter lot and Aquia Towne Center. The bus will then return by the reverse route to meet the VRE train at 6:30 pm FRED Transit Quantico VRE Feeder Service 2 and return by the same route noted above, returning to Aquia Towne Center at 7:20 pm.
The morning service will also allow travelers to connect at the VRE station with OmniLink bus service to Prince William County operated by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC) at 5:30 am and 7:22 am. The afternoon service will allow OmniLink connections at 3:34 pm and 5:56 pm.
The schedule and map for the VRE feeder service may be found here.
To introduce the service to our customers, the FARE WILL BE FREE FOR THE FIRST TWO MONTHS. Beginning July 1, 2019, the one-way fare will be $1.75. Regular riders may find it advantageous to purchase discounted monthly passes for $60.00. Please check with your employer to determine whether you can use your commuter benefits to purchase tickets. Senior citizens 65 and over, Medicare recipients, and the disabled travel at half fare or $0.85 per trip.
All FRED buses are wheelchair lift equipped.
If you have any questions about our new service, please contact: Craig Reed, Manager of Policy and Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about all FRED services visit www.rideFRED.com.
- Lost and Found
- February 6, 2019
It sometimes seems impossible to believe that a lost umbrella or cell phone could ever find its way back to us, but at VRE, thousands of “lost” items have been reunited with their owners over the years thanks to our Lost & Found program, which has an 85-90 percent return rate.
If you've misplaced an item, the process for making a claim is simple, just fill out VRE's online Lost Item Report or call (703) 684-1001 as soon as you realize an item is missing. Please be sure to provide as much detail as possible to help distinguish your property from similar items.
In the meantime, VRE staff collects and tags items that are found on the trains every day. It can sometimes take up to 48 hours for an item to make it off the trains and through the proper channels to end up at our office in Alexandria, so please plan accordingly if you want to pick up an item. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. You must have a photo ID to recover your item from Lost & Found, and items are only kept for 30 days, except for keys, which will now be held for six months. (Food items must be claimed by 6:30 p.m. on the day that they arrive at VRE. All food items left after that time will be discarded.) Unclaimed items (except keys and food) are all donated to charity.
We ask that everyone coming to our offices to retrieve a lost item have a photo ID and please don't come until you have filed a report. Arriving unannounced without a report on file slows the whole process down and will likely result in more frustration for the customer. We're here to help, and we'll welcome anyone to come in to take a look at keys, umbrellas, glasses, but if you give us a heads up us that you're coming, everything can be processed more smoothly.
If you lose your ticket or ID, the procedure is similar: except you use the on-line Lost Ticket Report at http://www.vre.org/communicate-with-vre/contact/lost-tickets-form. If your ticket is found, we will contact you and make arrangements to return it to you. Ten-Trip and Single-Ride tickets will be mailed to your home address and Monthly tickets and Five Day Passes can be picked up at our Alexandria office between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. If you lose a Monthly ticket that is not found within 48 hours of reporting it missing, you may be eligible for a replacement ticket.
While we will do our absolute best to recover lost items and tickets, we are not ultimately responsible for them. In the case of a lost ticket, it is your responsibility to be in possession of a valid ticket when riding on trains until the missing ticket surfaces and is returned. To help ensure your ticket is returned, follow these simple suggestions:
- Always print your name and daytime telephone number on the front of your ticket,
- Try not to keep other people's business cards in your ticket holder, and
- Do not keep other valuables, like IDs or other tickets inside your ticket pouches. The higher its value, the more tempting it maybe for someone to take your ticket/pouch rather than to turn it in.
One final suggestion: A number of lost items and tickets go unclaimed. Please make sure to file a report even if you think your lost item or ticket(s) may not be of value.
- Receiving News and Delay Alerts
- February 6, 2019
VRE embraces the world of social networking sites to both communicate and interact with our riders. Twitter allows short 140-character messages that can be received via the Twitter website or via text messages on a cell phone. People must opt in to “follow” individuals or organizations in order to receive “tweets” from them. For us, we mostly use Twitter to help update riders of train delays, remind them of upcoming events, or relay other important information. If you are interested in following VRE on Twitter, you’ll first need to register by visiting http://www.twitter.com/VaRailXpress, and clicking on “join today” if you’re not already a Twitter user. During the registration process, you’ll be asked to set up any type of profile you’d like to make for yourself, as well as select which type of device you’d like the updates sent to. Once you opt in to start receiving VRE’s “tweets,” you’ll begin receiving them as we send them out.
Facebook is also utilized in a similar way, although it has the ability to provide longer more in depth information. VRE’s Facebook page provides info about delays, upcoming events, such as board meetings, Meet the Management schedules and on-line chats with VRE management.
To access VRE’s Facebook page, please visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Virginia-Railway-Express/53836370185#!/pages/Virginia-Railway-Express/53836370185.
Don’t like social media? You can still receive delay alerts and news updates to your email or phone via our “Train Talk” alert system. To subscribe please visit the Train Talk page (https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/VAVRE/subscriber/new) and follow the prompts. If you need assistance, contact the VRE office weekdays between 7:00a and 7:00p at (703) 684-1001 or send an email to email@example.com. Make sure you click all the necessary boxes pertaining to your commute. We do get riders reporting that they did not receive alerts about a specific train or a specific station and when we check their account the boxes to those trains or stations have not been checked.
While Train Talk is our chief method to disseminate information for normal delays, during heavy delays when many messages are being sent out, email and phone servers can delay receipt of messages and we have found that our Twitter page (http://twitter.com/#!/VaRailXpress) is more instantaneous when it comes to relaying information.
Other ways that VRE communicates with you!
Call our office: 703-684-1001. Need a question answered immediately? Give us a call Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
CEO Report: http://www.vre.org/about/board/board-agenda-minutes/. Read our report presented each month to our Operations Board regarding On Time Performance, Capital Project Updates, Parking Utilization and more.
Contact & Forms page: http://www.vre.org/communicate-with-vre/contact/. Office address, phone number and email, as well the link to all our various forms (complaints, lost items, refunds, reduced fare applications, and more).
Daily Performance: http://www.vre.org/service/daily-performance/. Was your train delayed? Go here to find out why.
Email our office: firstname.lastname@example.org. Not finding the information you need? Send us an email and we’ll do our best to get back to you ASAP.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RideVRE. Information, news and a chance to interact with VRE and fellow riders.
Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.vre.org/service/faq/. Weekend service? Price for children? Gainesville/Haymarket extension? See what riders ask on a regular basis.
Meet the Management: http://www.vre.org/special-events/meet-the-management/. VRE management visits a different station every week usually between April and June to meet our riders in person to hear any questions, complaints or comments they may have.
New Rider page: http://www.vre.org/service/rider/. If you've never ridden our trains before, this is the first page you need to visit.
Online Forum: http://www.vre.org/about/online-forum/. Our Monthly live online chat session between VRE management and riders. Every 1st Wednesday of the month at Noon.
Press Releases: http://www.vre.org/about/pr/.
RIDE Magazine: http://www.vre.org/about/ride/. RIDE is our monthly print and online magazine designed to inform riders of VRE service information as well as other transportation and community matters.
Train Status: http://www.vre.org/service/status/. Live tracking of your trains.
Train Talk: Check out the latest delay alert notices posted on our website: http://www.vre.org/service/traintalk/.
Want to receive alert texts or emails from VRE, subscribe at: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/VAVRE/subscriber/new.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VaRailXpress. News and delay alerts available here.
- Receive Alert Messages: Tips for Registering for Train Talk
- February 6, 2019
Still not a member of VRE’s Train Talk news service? Why not? It only takes a couple of minutes to join.
To register, visit us here (https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/VAVRE/subscriber/new). The program takes you through a series of steps so that you can customize your account and only receive alerts that are important to you. Once registration is complete, you will receive the latest information on schedule changes, service disruptions, seat notices and other news via email and phone.
There are two types of Train Talk messages: urgent service-related messages and newsletter-type information. The service messages can be sent so that you can receive longer messages through email or shorter versions on your cell phone. The newsletter is only sent in a long format.
When editing your account information, make sure you also tell the program which email address or phone number should receive the message and when. In the previous step, you created your contact information, but now, we need to know which one should get which messages.
Finally, the preference page allows you to choose some other important features. Would you like to know when an elevator is out of service? Choose the appropriate email address under the elevator notification.
Still confused? Feel free to contact VRE for assistance with signing on or troubleshooting at (703) 684-1001.
- Operation Lifesaver Infographic
- February 5, 2019
- Head Phones & Announcements
- January 30, 2019
Some choose to wear headphones while commuting. We understand that listening to music is one of the perks of riding the train or the use of noise cancelling headphones may be a “sound” investment for those who like absolute silence in the quiet car. However, if you do wear headphones, please keep a few things in mind:
1. It's courteous.
Keep the volume of your electronics turned down low, one, as a courtesy to those around you.
2. It's for your safety.
Also, keeping the volume low is for your own safety. If an emergency occurs, announcements about that emergency will be made over the PA system.
3. We don't want you to miss your stop.
Announcements are made for each station stop. Please do not only allow rely on the scrolling screens on board the train to see if you are approaching your stop.
We understand that riders wish to be as comfortable as they can while riding our trains. But remember, train announcements are there for a reason and if you hear them playing, you may wish to take a second and listen.
- Rippon and the Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge
- September 6, 2017
Recent construction at the Rippon station to allow public access to a wildlife refuge has been completed.
The Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge, which is adjacent to this VRE station, is a National Wildlife Refuge (located at the meeting point of the Potomac River in Virginia and the Neabsco Creek) established with the purpose to protect the features of a contiguous wetlands area.
VRE’s parent commissions, through VRE, were asked to permit public pedestrian access across the station to reach the refuge. Completed construction includes a platform extension, stairs, and a ramp on the east side of the platform.
The 325 acres of woodland and freshwater tidal marsh has been administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service since 1970; currently, it is part of the Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuge covers wetlands and woodlands, and has a railroad right-of-way bordering its western edge.
- The Circus Train
- September 1, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, step right up and witness the final bow to what was once the greatest ride on Earth! The Circus Train! Not only have railroads proven well-suited for commuters and freight, but for over 140 years they have also been known to ease the transportation of massive animals and heavy equipment often for your entertainment. In fact, during the late 1800s, the term “railroad show” was synonymous with large circuses and carnivals. One of the largest and best known users of trains was the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (RBBX).
During the 1820s, there were approximately 30 animal circuses touring the eastern United States. These shows traveled nightly by wagon through muddied country roads. By 1872 the P.T. Barnum Circus had grown so large that they decided to only play at large venues, and to travel by train. They developed a system of ropes, pulleys, inclined planes and crossover plates between cars that, first used in 1872, was continued through more modern methods by the RBBX up until its retirement this year.
The RBBX circus trains were more than one mile in length and consisted of 60 railroad cars, which is the equivalent of 120 trucks. The trains consisted of stock cars for exotic animals, flat cars for heavy equipment, and coaches to the rear. No space went underutilized.
Stock cars were 72 feet long and of two basic types. One was designed for the horses and ring stock, and the other for the elephants, or “bulls.” The cars designated for bulls were about a foot taller than the others, with solid sides and small windows for ventilation near the top. The bulls were usually positioned in three pairs at each end of the car and another elephant could be loaded at the center. Thus, each bull car could carry 12 or 13 adult elephants. Stock cars were usually coupled directly behind the locomotive to help minimize jolting the animals, and were then followed in the consist by the flat cars which were the heaviest due to rides, wagons and other equipment. Finally, the passenger coaches brought up the rear of the train.
The circus had a very strict employee caste system that was apparent in the sleeping assignments onboard. Featured performers and key personnel were often assigned a stateroom or even a half or third of a car. Some of the larger shows had a private coach for the owner or star performer. Most of the circus coaches were filled top to bottom with bunks, and an individual’s assignment in the circus and length of employment dictated the assigned bunk. For example, a newcomer might be assigned a top bunk, while working men might be assigned two to a bunk. These cars were not air conditioned and many a circus worker chose to sleep on an open flat, beneath the wagons, on a hot summer night.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circuses traveled in two trains, the blue unit and the red unit, following an alternating two-year schedule to bring a new show to each location once a year. Up to their retirement, between 250 and 300 performers and other circus workers traveled on each of the two trains for more than 40 weeks each year. The Red train made its final run on May 7th this year, transporting its last show to Rhode Island. The Blue train followed suit two weeks later, on May 21st, with its final show in New York.
Although the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus no longer performs, other circuses still take advantage of the railroad for transportation. From circuses to lumber to coal and to people, America’s railroads have played a vital role in building, connecting, and even entertaining the country. Among all opportunities made possible by the railroad, who knows what could be next?