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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.
- Coronavirus Health & Safety Guidance on VRE
Effective Tuesday March 17, 2020, VRE will operate at a reduced “S” schedule level. Only trains marked with an “S” on our schedule will operate. Amtrak is operating on their reduced schedule, so no cross-honor step-up trains will be offered.
- VRE to Use Everbridge Starting March 9th
VRE is transitioning to a new system to send Train Talk alerts. For many of you, no action is required to continue receiving Train Talks. However, if you originally subscribed for VRE alerts through another organization, you will need to opt-in to receive messages through Everbridge.
- 7-Day Pass ... Service or Calendar Days?
The 7-Day Pass is good for seven consecutive calendar days once validated. So, rather than counting the number of service days after you validate, use your calendar to track which days your ticket will be honored.
- 7-Day and 31-Day Passes Now Available
Convenient, flexible and economical, two new fare passes were designed with the rider in mind. The 7-Day and 31-Day Passes are now available on VRE Mobile.
- USB Tethering
VRE will not have Wi-Fi available until cell phone towers are put in place all along the route so that riders have 100% connectivity. Sometimes during the ride, however, you undoubtably wish your laptop had an Internet connection. USB tethering may fit the bill.