New Rider

VRE Rider's Guide

Are you new to riding Virginia Railway Express (VRE)? Download our Rider's Guide and check out the information below that is designed to assist you in planning your first trip on VRE. If you read through this information and still have questions, please feel free contact our office at 800-743-3873 or email us at

Pick Your Station

First, check out our System Map and pick the stations you wish to travel to and from. If your destination is not directly next to a station, keep in mind that we connect with both metrorail and metrobus at five locations. Trying to decide between two stations? To look at the amenities offered, click the station name to tell you not only how to get there, but what "extras" are available. Additionally, you may use Google Maps to help plan your trip.

How Much Will a Ticket Cost?

To determine the price of your ticket, you must first identify the zones in which your originating and destination stations are located. This zone pairing will determine your fare. There are 8 different ticket options including:

  • Monthly ticket (unlimited rides in a calendar month)
  • 31-Day Pass  (valid for 31 consecutive calendar days)
  • Seven-Day Pass (valid for 7 consecutive calendar days)
  • Ten-Ride ticket (valid for 10 individual one way rides that do not have to be used consecutively)
  • Day Pass (valid until the end of the day)
  • Single-ride ticket (this is a single-one-way ride)
  • If you plan to use both VRE and Metrorail, you can purchase a combination ticket called a Transit Link Card (TLC) this ticket offers unlimited VRE and Metro usage for a calendar month.
  • Riders may also utilize select Amtrak trains with their multi-ride ticket (Monthly, Five Day and Ten-Ride) along with the purchase of a $4.00 Step-Up ticket. More information can be found here.

Discounts for all these ticket types are available for seniors, disabled passengers and youths under 18. Once you've determined which ticket works best for your travel needs, check out our ticket fare chart. Again, find your origination zone and your destination zone to find your fare.

What Times Do the Trains Run?

Since we are a commuter rail system, we run northbound into DC in the morning and southbound in the afternoon and evening. Specific departure times can be found by visiting the schedule page on our website or by emailing to request a pocket schedule to be sent to you.

Be aware that the time on the schedule is time the train will depart the station, be sure to be on the platform with your ticket validated and ready to board prior to the departure time. We suggest that you be on the platform with your ticket validated at least 5 minutes prior to the train’s departure time.

How Do I Buy a Ticket?

Now that you have chosen your station and you know which ticket type you want, the next step is purchasing the ticket.

The easiest way to determine your fare and purchase a ticket is with VRE Mobile. VRE Mobile accepts credit cards and transit benefits. Here's how to use VRE Mobile:

  1. Download VRE Mobile from iTunes or Google Play, then create an account
  2. Select Fare – choose which line you want to ride, your stations and fare type, and then press “Checkout”
  3. Pay – enter your credit card, debit card and/or SmartBenefits account number (if paying with SmartBenefits, make sure you allocate your funds to VRE Mobile first)
  4. Validate & Show Ticket – before boarding your train, select “My Tickets” from the VRE Mobile menu, choose the ticket you want to use, and tap “Use Ticket” – show this screen when the conductor asks to see your ticket

You may purchase a paper ticket from one of our platform Ticket Vending Machines using a debit or credit card. Or, you may purchase from one of our vendors with check, cash, Smart Benefits, or a credit/debit card. Keep in mind that tickets are NOT sold on the trains.

What is Validation?

Validation is the deduction of the available ride off your ticket. The deduction is indicated by a time stamp on the face of your paper ticket.

How do I Validate my Paper Ticket?

The ticket vending machines at each platform are also validators. If it is your first time purchasing the ticket (Single Ride, Ten Ride or Seven Day Pass) the Ticket Vending Machine will prompt you to validate for immediate use. If you are boarding, select “yes” and the ticket will print with the validation on the face of the ticket. If you are purchasing the ticket for future use, select “no”. When you are ready to use your ticket insert the end of your ticket with the arrows in the validator and it will time-stamp the ticket.

You MUST validate your ticket for each ride, for example:

  • On a Ten Ride ticket you should validate once in the a.m. and once in the p.m.
  • For 31-Day, Seven-Day or a Day Pass validate once, the TVM will print the expiration date and time in large print on the face of the ticket.
  • If you purchased a Transit Link Card (TLC) or a Monthly ticket you validate it simply by signing it.
  • Single ride tickets and Ten Ride tickets can only be validated approximately 1 hour prior to boarding your train.

It's Time to Ride - What Do I Have to Know?

Be sure to arrive at the station early, so that you have time to park, purchase your ticket (if you need to), and validate your ticket.

When the train arrives, you simply board and insert your validated ticket in the clip on top of the seat in front of you. A conductor will come by to check it. If you want, let the conductor know this is your first ride. He or she will be sure to help you with any questions or concerns you might have.

Prior to each station stop there will be an announcement indicating the station. When you arrive at your destination, be sure to pick up your ticket and all of your belongings. If you do happen to leave something on the train, call us at 800-743-3873 to make a lost item report.

A Few Things That You Should Keep in Mind

  • VRE does not run on weekends.
  • VRE does not run on Federal Holidays. Amtrak trains may be available for some holidays; see the Amtrak page for more details. Please visit the operations calendar page for detailed information on limited and/or no service dates.
  • Delays do happen. To find out if your train is delayed, sign up for our e-news/text service, Train Talk, to get the latest information about VRE, visit "Train Status" on our website or call (703) 684-0400 or 1-800-RIDE-VRE (800-743-3873).
  • Have an emergency and need to get home in the middle of the day? Commuter Connections offers a Guaranteed Ride Home Program that will get you home in case of a medical or other emergency for you or your family, or unscheduled overtime.

Contact VRE

If you need more information, please contact us by email at or call us at 800-743-3873.