WOODBRIDGE, Va. (ABC7) — 7 On Your Side joined passengers riding VRE Train 300 leaving just after 5:40 a.m. at the Woodbridge station. Finding a seat was easy, although it was the first train into Washington, and some decided to extend their sleep in the train car's upper deck.
“It’s a more direct route. You can read, watch your phone, you can do work if you have to. It’s a pretty calm, peaceful ride when you take the VRE,” said Tina Vey, a commuter from Woodbridge to L’Enfant.
VRE is not without problems. Its own CEO admitted in a letter to Manassas-area delegate that on-time performance has slipped these past months, blaming track maintenance and problems switching to a new federally mandated safety system called Positive Train Control.
Riders tell us delays are worse in the afternoons.
Because all freight and passenger trains have to share one narrow bridge to cross the river, VRE simply can't add more trains to its service. The CEO’s letter calls for additional funding to build a second bridge.
It's unknown how additional passengers from the shutdown Metrorail Yellow and Blue lines will effect VRE service, but riders have some advice for their future seatmates.
“The train will fill up a lot quicker because we don’t have the square footage. There are no handrails like we have on Metro. So if you get on earlier than you expect, that might get you a seat easier,” commented VRE Commuter Jeromie Stephens.
The train taken by 7 On Your Side, VRE Train 300, arrived on time. The two trains behind it were delayed.
A monthly VRE pass from Woodbridge to Union Station costs $249. A comparable distance covered by Maryland’s MARC Rail is $162 to Germantown. VRE explains their pricing due to fares counting for 50% of its operating costs.
7 On Your Side will ride the rails next week to compare passenger loads during the Metro summer shutdown.