The next VRE online forum will start on Wednesday, May
1st at 12:00pm.
There are currently 38 questions waiting to be answered.
We would like to first start out by apologizing to all those affected on the Fredericksburg Line this morning due to the service disruption. Fredericksburg Line Train 310 experienced a mechanical issue after it departed our yard in Spotsylvania. While troubleshooting the issue, Train 312 then departed the yard as well. When the 310 could not move under its own power, we made the decision to couple the trains and operate 310/312 to Washington. To help minimize the overall delay, we successfully implemented a single stop for every station by spotting the train in the middle of the platform. Normally when we couple trains, we have to make double stops to ensure everyone gets on and off the train. We will look to use the single stop for coupled trains in the future to save time.
Please know that a complete root cause analysis and corrective action will be completed on the locomotive as well as the communication issues at Leeland Road. In the meantime, a standby locomotive will be added to Train 311 in DC so it should operate without incident for the ride home tonight.
We appreciate your patience and the cooperation of all of our partners (Amtrak, CSX, WMATA, Keolis) who assisted us this morning.
Now on to the questions!
Doug from Burke asks:
Can you help Fairfax County figure out that lights are most needed at night, and less needed during the day? I'm asking because the Burke Center parking garage has most of its lights turned off when people arrive for the first train of the day. The lighting is so bad that I can barely see the lines delineating the spaces.
For the return trip, however, when the sun is shining brightly, Fairfax County has all of the lights turned on.
Fairfax is so mixed up. They really do need someone smarter to help them figure this out. You are smarter -- will you do it?
We will forward your concerns to Fairfax County.
Debbie from Broad Run, VA asks:
The ride down Piper Lane has gotten to be pretty rough. Can you tell me if there are any plans for the road to be re-surfaced soon?
We will talk to VDOT to re-surface the road.
Marilyn from Burke, VA asks:
With the fare increase coming soon, can we start discussions about providing Wi-Fi on the trains (new amenities can ease our financial pains)?
The fare increase is needed to maintain current service levels, not add any new amenities. We are looking to add WiFi so our passengers can use it in conjunction with operational upgrades such as PTC or mobile ticketing.
Debbie from Broad Run, VA asks:
Did you have the Meet the Mgmt for L'Enfant Plaza, because if you did, I never saw the usual banners out advertising your presence at the station. I think you should go back to having it at all stations again.
Sorry we didnâ€™t put up the banners, Debbie. We will make sure the Facilities Manager gets it put up for the remaining stations we go to. We did however, send out Train Talk, Facebook and Twitter reminders and played an announcement over the PA and on the station screens.
E from Fredericksburg asks:
When are you planning on addressing the seating issues. You going up on price, but I'm still standing up
We continue to work on solutions to provide everyone a seat. For those that have been riding our service for a while know our biggest issue is mid-day train storage in DC and funding.
Dave from Fredericksburg asks:
It is now almost 10 am. As a subscriber to your e-mail alert system, it is surprising and somewhat distressing that I still have not received any messages concerning operation of VRE 310 (not at Fredericksburg at 7:15) & 312 (not at Fredericksburg at 7:40). What has happened to the e-mail system?
We did send out Train Talk messages about the delay this morning and regret you did not receive them. Please contact us and we will look into your account settings.
B from Burke VA asks:
Can anything be done about the flagrant disregard for driving rules in the Burke garage? Monday evening for the 327 train, I almost got hit head-on by an idiot in a white/light silver sedan who went left at the yield into oncoming traffic ME!! Then proceeded to yell at me to get out of his way so he could go the wrong direction to get out the entrance instead of the exit like everyone else. There are arrows on the pavement for a reason. Someone is going to get seriously hurt. Also the people who inch their cars right up against people walking because they are not moving fast enough. HELP
Fairfax County recently installed new traffic signs and pavement markings to address people entering the exit. We will forward your comments to Fairfax County.
Dave from kingstowne,va asks:
can you please add another bike rack at Franaconia/Springfield, there is far more demand than space on the existing bike rack? Also, could you please consider moving the existing bike rack so that it is centered on the concrete pad because it is currently too close to the security fence which means half the rack cannot be used.
We are currently working with Fairfax County to expand bike storage at Franconia/Springfield. We are working with other jurisdictions as well.
HeavyG from Manassas, VA asks:
I sent this question in via email to go trains on April 25th and still have not received a reply
Subject: Manassas Park Station - Faded Parking Space Lines
The white lines on the asphalt in the parking lot marking the individual parking spaces are extremely worn to the point it is almost impossible to see where the parking spaces are.
Specifically, I park in the overflow lot on the left side just off of the traffic circle/round-about.
When will the white parking space lines be re-painted?
We will have our Facilities crew work with Manassas Park to get this done.
John from Manassas Park asks:
Perhaps the next issue of Ride on can focus on courtesy issues My pet peeves concern people eating food that stinks up the entire car, those that sit next to someone and constantly bump into them, those that don't move to an empty seat row between L'Enfant and Union Station so that window seat riders that want to queue can get up w/o asking, and those that queue early but walk slow forcing faster walkers to navigate around them. Well, that felt better!
Your concerns have been noted and will send your suggestion to the editorial staff of RIDE.
Can't Wait from Spotsylvania asks:
What zone will the Spotsylvania station be in, 9 or 10?
Spotsylvania will be a Zone 9 station.
Vicky from Fredericksburg asks:
During the last on-line Forum someone stated that the quiet car is experiencing cell phone ring tones and watch alarms and asked if the conductors can try to enforce the quiet car rules. Your answer was that cell phone rings and watch alarms are not banned in the Quiet Car. That answer was not correct. Per the quiet car rules cell phones should be silenced, put on vibrate, or shut off. Although nothing is mentioned specifically about watch alarms that rule would seem to cover that also.
Our intent was to say that Quiet Car does not mean absolute silence; it is more akin to a library environment. That said, we do state in our rules that alarms on phones should be turned off.
Robert from Manassas Park, VA asks:
Why has the speaker volume for annouuncements in the cars been raised so high this week? It is impossible to sleep and feels as though we are being yelled at all the way into Washington each morning. I have not seen a conductor in our car all week to ask.
Please send in an email to email@example.com with the specific cars/trains you are riding and we will take care of it. You can always submit a train information form at vre.org as well.
Samie from Woodbridge, VA asks:
There is such a large gap in southbound Fredericksburg service between trains 301 and 303. It is difficult for those who ride from L'Enfant to get to Union Station to catch the possible Amtrak 95 train. Why not have the 95 train stop at L'Enfant instead of the Amtrak 125 since VRE trains are more frequent after 3:40? I often would like to leave early and cannot because of this large gap.
Our current contract with CSX does not allow us to operate trains in that timeframe. We will approach Amtrak about the possibility of getting 95 to stop at Lâ€™Enfant.
Mary from Nokesville, Virginia asks:
We finally had a conducter who was doing something about our queuing problem on train 327 (M. Medina) and she was moved from our train. Can you tell me why? Can you get her back? Yes she was a little hard but that is what it is going to take to fix our problem. Thanks
We agree, Ms. Medina is one of our outstanding conductors. We will pass along your compliments.
Aaron from Manassas Park asks:
Just curious... what is the track defect detector that I hear about on the conductor's radios from time to time?
A defect detector monitors the trains as it passses by for possible wheel or bearing defects. There is also a high-wide detector that monitors train clearances to ensure there will be no interference prior to entering tunnels. After passing through this system, it notifies the crew of the condition of the train.
Steve from VA asks:
You have been saying for over a year that you are looking at making the platforms all "non-smoking." When will this issue be resolved so we can wait for the train and not have to inhale all the second hand smoke?
We are looking at each station to designate a smoking area away from the platform. We will propose a solution to the local jurisdictions and implement once approved.
EL Jefe' from Rolling Road asks:
Why can't the platforms at certain locations be extended, to ease congestion and safety concerns of overcrowding, during wait times for the train? In particular, the platforms at L'enfant and Rolling Road.
We currently have funding to extend the Lorton platform and have plans to address capacity constraints as funding becomes available.
Jay from Stafford, VA asks:
Can you explain again why the consist for the 307 changes on different days of the week? The information on the consist page does not show or mention the changes. On the days where the consist is shorter, sometimes the train leaves Crystal City with standees.
We recently made a change to put the 8 car train on 309 Tuesday through Thursday while 307 gets it Monday and Friday that way the train with the most riders gets the train with the most cars. While we made mention of this in Train Talk, Twitter and Facebook messages, we will make sure the website is updated as well. We do have plans to add a 7th car to the 307 consist as soon as funding becomes available.
Roy from VA asks:
Your service since you acquired the new equipment has been great! Can you schedule the outside windows to be washed occasionally?
We cycle every train through our carwash at regular intervals. Please let us know through firstname.lastname@example.org which cars windows you think are not up to VRE standards. We have a solution to increase the frequency of washing trains and this should be implemented in June 2013.
Lee from Burke asks:
Would someone please contact Fairfax County and ask them to stop dimming the lights in the Burke parking deck? This morning I could hardly make out the stripes on the parking place I was backing into.
You are not the only one to mention this problem today and we will let Fairfax County know.
Fredericksburg Gal from Fredericksburg VA asks:
VRE pulled cars from 307 to alleviate the congestion on the Manassas line.
All this did was create congestion on the Fredericksburg line. Standing for most of the ride home is no fun! If you're going to be fair about it..spilt the cars between the two trains.
With the fare increase - we expect seats.
Now as a addaboy - Robert is absolutely your BEST conductor! Always cheerful, helpful, ready to lend assistance where needed. He should get a bonus!
Cars were not pulled from 307 to the Manassas Line. Please see our comments about 307/309 in an earlier question. We will pass your compliments about Robert onto Keolis.
Rachael from Falmouth, VA asks:
It's only spring but the freezing has begun...Any plans on handing out blankets like the airlines? I wish I was being funny....
When we first got the new cars, many riders complained about the temperature being too cold. The cars have since been modified to raise the temperature a few degrees and we have since seen less customer concerns about this issue. If you have a concern about a specific car please send us that information through email@example.com.
Mel from Burke, VA asks:
What's up with the slow down over the bridge in Accotink? Looks like they are planning to replace the ties in this area, but how much longer will the trains slow down in this area?
There is currently track work going on in that area. The speed restriction was 10mph yesterday, it has been upgraded to 25 mph today. As soon as enough trains have passed over the work area the track speed will be increased.
John from Manassas asks:
Your web page indicates there are Proposed Fares that will be effective for FY 2014. When does VRE's Fiscal Year begin? Are the "Proposed Fares" approved?
Trying to ensure that my Mass Transportation Benefit Program properly reflects when the fare change will occur as it takes three different web sites to get the proper setup completed and there's about a two month lead time to change benefits.
FY2014 begins July 1, 2013. During the last VRE Operations Board meeting, the fare increase was approved.
Michael from Fairfax VA asks:
Can Wi-Fi be expanded to at least the train stations?
We are reviewing options that could include WiFi at the stations.
Arthur from Burke asks:
We can always find something to complain about but things are good at Burke Centre. Nobody is turned away for lack of parking, the trains run on time, the Keolis conductors are nice and "incidents" are at an all time minimum.
Glad to hear it, Arthur!
Mar from Fredericksburg line asks:
There is a community development advertising a new station in between Rippon and Quantico; is this true? Is there going to be another station added?
A new station between Rippon and Quantico has been proposed as part of a residential and commercial development. More to followâ€¦
Larry from Fredericksburg VA asks:
Can you give us an update on the Spotsylvania station?
Spotsylvania Station is scheduled to be operational December 2013.
from Broad Run asks:
I guess the fare increase is happening regardless of the economy. I will not be able to ride VRE soon. It is getting way out of my price range. I don't work for the government so I don't get a break. I have to pay the entire amount. Hopefully I can find a another way to work.
A fare increase is something we prefer not to do but unfortunately is neccessary. We would hate to lose you as a rider.
Kim from Woodbridge asks:
Just want to thank you for fantastic and safe service. It has been extremely enjoyable and pleasant. Thank you so much. Happy Spring.
Thank you for your support, Kim.
Brian from Broad Run asks:
It was nice on train 327 for a few days while Conductor M. Medina was working the center of the train. If there was a seat, she made everyone sit down. She fixed the queuing problem and treated everyone the same. Can she please be place on our train in that position permanently? Also I just want to tell her thanks for treating all passengers equally.
Another compliment for Ms. Medina. We will pass along your comments to Keolis.
Bill from Sumerduck, Va asks:
This question has been posed so many times, I wonder if it is really being taken seriously enough or is thVRE waiting for a accident to happen and lawsuits put the VRE out of business. Everytime I ride the train I see people riding in the vestibules of the train. The conductors do nothing about this. I have seen them stand in the vestibules and talk to the passengers. It is tough enough to get off the train with the vestibule full of people! Passengers are still queueing up 1-2 stops before and make little effort to make room for others to get off the train.
We will pass your comments on to all conductors. We do not want passengers in the vestibules or queueing before their destination.
Phyllis from Pr Wm County, Va asks:
since the Quiet car signs are now transparent, can you place one in each window? Some people get beligerent, and downright hostile, when you try to politely tell them that "this is the quiet car." And they shrill "where is the sign . . . well, I didn't see it!"
also, can you change the speaker system to just say "the quiet car is located at the end of the train, next to the engine" instead of "the quiet car is located at the "rear of the train?"
We have made more changes to the transparent signs so they are more visible. You should see those installed soon. Please send us a car number so that we can check the audio as that fix should have already been implemented.
CT1 from Bristow, VA asks:
For sometime now the parking lot at Broad Run has been a major issue. There are only 2 exist and they are both a bottleneck. It is the reason people run to get to their cars, speed out of the parking lot, and try to take the service road to get out. Instead of just making annoucements about being careful in the parking lot or telling people not to take the service road...why dont you do something about the root cause. Widening Piper Lane and adjusting the (28/Piper lane) traffic light to hold longer based on the train schedule would be helpful.
We will pass along your comments along to VDOT and Prince William County.
K.B. from Fredericksburg asks:
Just a reminder to those who cue in line between stops can you please watch what you are doing with your big back packs and bags you hit those who stay seated until the train stops. Or when you are walking past people sitting.
Courtesy reminder from a fellow passenger.
Longtime Rider from Leeland asks:
I know that you now have a new maintenance crew but do they not handle the grassy areas at the stations? The grass at Le'Fant is close to a foot high and Leeland is not much better. Perhaps you should look into a better maintenance crew as it look deplorable and I am waiting for rats to come running out of the grass at Le'Fant.
We are transitioning to a new maintenance crew. We will make sure all stations get addressed as soon as possible.
Dale from Woodbridge, VA asks:
Can VRE look at changing the schedule of the Manassas Line train so that they don't delay Fredericksburg trains in the morning? A couple of times the Manassas Train was late to Alexandria which caused Train #306 to have to go very slowly to Crystal City delaying us. So, move the Manassas Train up 5 minutes earlier
We are currently reviewing our train schedules with our partner railroads and will make necessary adjustments to improve the overall system schedule soon.
Scott from Fredericksburg, VA asks:
First, thank you. Although not perfect, VRE has proven to be a reliable, comfortable transit solution. My question is regarding the Fredericksburg Lot B and I am not sure if it should be directed to you or Fredericksburg City. The road entrance to this parking lot from Sophia Street is in dire need of repair as the concrete and asphalt has deteriorated between the road and the parking lot. Can this be fixed? Thank you for your time.
Thank you for the compliments. We will pass along your concerns about Lot B to the City of Fredericksburg.
Aaron from Manassas Park asks:
I just wanted to give some kudos to VRE and Keolis on the great job you're doing. It's nice to see an online forum where people are talking about parking and bike racks or complaining about nuisance issues like people walking too slow and not massive delays and mechanical problems. Great job!
Oh! And Ellen the conductor on MAN 331 is awesome!! Forget the wi-fi, you should use the money to clone her!
Thank you for your comments. We will pass along your compliments to Ellen.
Dave from Springfield, VA asks:
1) Fuel charges are often cited as a reason for raising fares. Does the VRE hedge its fuel purchases or buy solely on the "spot" market?
2) Can we get an update on the Lorton platform extension?
3) Why does the VRE still allow smoking on the platforms?
We do hedge our fuel purchases. Lorton is funded and we are going out to bid the project soon.
Injury Waiting to Happen from Washington, DC asks:
Over the last several months I've witnessed several verbal altercations at the crosswalk from the L'enfant to the GSA building by motorists refusing to yield to pedestrians. Anyway that DC police can be notified to conduct enforcement activity at this location and start ticketing those who violate the law?
We will pass this along to Metro PD.
Patron from Washington, DC asks:
Last year, under old management, we were told that the space behind L'enfant (grassy knoll) could possibly picnic tables and shield umbrellas. Any update to this?
Our next proposed step at L'Enfant is to add depth to the platform to ease the overcrowding.
Charles from Centreville, VA asks:
I have read that the VRE rates are going up on July 1st. I need to know the new rate, 2-4, before June so that I can reaccomplish my Federal Smartbenefits. Thanks,
Please visit our web page at http://www.vre.org/service/fares.htm to view the new fares.
Manassas rider from Manassas asks:
Can you please send this reminder to conductors that passengers appreciate notification about delays - even slight - during their commute. it is quite frustrating when we don't know why the train is stopped/creeping, or if we will make up time.
We understand communication is key to ease riders' minds during delays. We are reviewing our current practices and plan to change this soon.
Once again, we apologize for this morning's delay. This has been another great hour of questions. If we didn't answer your question, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at Meet the Management this afternoon at Crystal City.
-Rich and Chris, et al.