Michelle Basch, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Virginia Railway Express passengers know trains can get really crowded, but a change coming soon will help create some more elbow room.
"We actually started service 20 years ago with an original intent of carrying about 2.5 million people per year," says VRE CEO Doug Allen. "Over the years, that's grown to a point where we're now almost double that."
Allen says trains are near capacity.
"We have standees now and that can last for a little bit, but at some point people don't want to ride commuter rail if they have to stand for such a long period of time," he says.
To help alleviate the problem, VRE will soon cut the price of an Amtrak Step-Up ticket from $5 to $3.
The change in price is expected to be made by December and should encourage riders to hop on Amtrak when VRE trains are full.
Allen says VRE also needs more seating, more parking and more space to store trains.
"All of these of course take funding, and that's our next challenge," Allen says.
Overall, VRE has a lot to brag about. "The service has gone through a lot of improvements over the last few years," Allen says. "We've changed out contractors, we've really focused on customer service, and now our on-time performance is over 95 percent."
"We recently within the last year started the first express train in our system. It goes from Fredericksburg, bypasses four stations along the way and gets to the District about 15 percent faster than the local train, so it's our start of express train service," Allen adds.
Another improvement is coming in about a year.
"We will be opening a station in Spotsylvania, going into another county, another large parking facility at the end of the line," he says. Allen made his remarks at seminar hosted by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.
Get a look at the graphics Allen showed during his presentation by clicking here.
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