Virginia Railway Express offering free Friday rides this summer

A Virginia Railway Express train shown in 2020. (InsideNova/Paul Lara)

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Virginia Railway Express is going fare-free on Fridays this summer.

The commuter rail service announced Monday that from June 2 to Sept. 1, all Friday rides will be free.

“Fare-free travel will be available to passengers on both the Fredericksburg and Manassas lines for rides originating at any of VRE’s 19 stations. Tickets will not be required,” the agency said in a news release.

Last year, VRE saw a boost to ridership numbers when it offered free fares for all of September, which coincided with major disruptions to WMATA’s Blue and Yellow Metro lines.

Now, VRE said in its statement, the hope is to juice ridership once again during times that generally see a lull in passengers.

“VRE ridership is historically lower during the summer and on Fridays year-round, so the rails service can accommodate additional passengers, including larger groups looking to spend a day in the nation’s capital, or National Landing or Old Town Alexandria in Virginia,” the agency’s statement reads.

Overall, ridership on the commuter rail is up significantly from last year, but still remains about one-third of what it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Monthly ridership in March reached 146,391, up by nearly 50,000 rides over March of 2022. Average daily ridership in March was 6,365.

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