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Posted at 3:49 PM ET, 02/ 8/2011

VRE to hold fare change hearing

By Jennifer Buske

Virginia Railway Express officials will host their next public hearing on proposed fare and policy changes on Wednesday.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. at the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, 14700 Potomac Mills Rd. Four more hearings will take place later this month on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at Manassas City Hall, 9027 Center St.; Feb. 16 at 12 p.m. at the Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave. NW; Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Burke Centre Conservancy, 5701 Roberts Pkwy.; and Feb. 24 at 12 p.m. at VRE's office at 1500 King St.

VRE officials are proposing to modify their step-up ticket, group fare and bicycle policies. Riders who wish to board select Amtrak trains have paid a $10 step-up fee for several years, but commuter rail officials said they want to reduce that fee to $5. VRE officials said they hope if they absorb some of the cost, some riders will shift back to Amtrak and help alleviate the overcrowding found on numerous VRE trains. The fare change would cost VRE about $300,000 and potentially shift about 60,000 riders to Amtrak -- roughly twice the number that rode in fiscal 2010.

VRE officials said they also want to eliminate their group fare discount program. Groups of 10 or more currently get a 50 percent discount on each single-ride ticket. However, with trains over capacity, daily riders have complained about losing seats to one-time riders who paid half the price.

The last policy change involves bringing bicycles on trains. VRE officials said they want to only allow collapsible bikes on trains because of capacity issues.

By Jennifer Buske  | February 8, 2011; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  Virginia Railway Express  
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