VRE advancing expansion, mobile ticket changes

The expansion of Virginia Railway Express’ Broad Run Station at the Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia is moving forward, and the VRE Board is also authorizing additional efforts Friday to expand the rail yard at the end of the Fredericksburg Line.

At Broad Run, the board is set to authorize contracting for final design of the station and rail yard expansion, new parking lot on the north side of the tracks and a tunnel connecting the lot to the station platform.

Preliminary designs and environmental reviews are expected to be done this fall, after additional work that has been added to the already $4.5 million preliminary contract. The expansion at the existing station was selected over extending service to Gainesville.

In Spotsylvania County, the board is also extending a consulting firm’s contract focused on an expansion of the Crossroads Maintenance and Storage Facility. VRE has been working for several years on permits needed along the Fredericksburg Line. It faced similar delays opening the Spotsylvania Station.

While not on Friday’s agenda, VRE is working on expansion of the Crystal City station and improvements at L’Enfant Plaza, as well.

The changes are key to potential future expansion of service once the Long Bridge is rebuilt and expanded. A final record of decision from the Federal Railroad Administration is expected soon, which would kick funding efforts into high gear.

Ticket changes

On the ticketing front, the VRE Board is set to renew its mobile application contract.

More than 30% of riders now use the mobile app, which launched in 2015 and can be used with SmartBenefits.

The new contract will give REACH NOW, the app developer, a 1.5% commission and reimbursement for credit card processing fees. VRE said that is lower cost than paper tickets.

VRE is considering taking advantage of the app to offer a new 31-day pass rather than the current monthly pass valid for a calendar month, too.

Another change to make things easier on app developers and more straightforward for some riders could be a seven-calendar-day pass in place of the current five service day pass.

But there are concerns about budget impact, since VRE ridership was relatively flat over the past year compared to the year before.

As part of the app contract renewal, app upgrades are also planned that will include ways to pay for other modes of transportation at the start or end of a VRE trip.

The app could also facilitate future trips between Maryland and Virginia, since the same developer, now known as REACH NOW, runs the mobile payment apps for Maryland’s MTA MARC Trains. The company also developed the new DASH Bus payment app in Alexandria.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up