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VRE continues to set records for ridership
VRE sets all-time ridership record, for the second year in a row. Also, on-time performance stays high, and there are updates on VRE lot expansions

 Commuters and tourists ride the VRE train this week from the Fredericksburg station heading to points north.
FILE/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 7/27/2012

BY SCOTT SHENK

The Virginia Railway Express continues to draw record numbers of riders.

All but one of VRE's top ridership days were set in 2011, but the overall numbers for fiscal 2012 were better.

In his first CEO report, interim chief Richard Dalton reported that VRE handled 4.772 million rider trips in the fiscal year that ended June 30. In fiscal 2011, VRE reported a ridership total of 4.512 million, then a record.

The commuter rail service reported 4.033 million rider trips in fiscal 2010 and 3.857 million the year before that.

Fare revenue also trumped last year's total.

VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said the fiscal year's total will come in at about $34.7 million. Last fiscal year VRE took in $32.3 million in fare revenue.

If ridership this fiscal year keeps pace with last year, revenue totals should go up again because of VRE's 3 percent rate increase, which went into effect July 1.

Dalton also noted that VRE's on-time performance is still above 90 percent for the Fredericksburg lines, though that figure has dropped recently, primarily due to heat restrictions and track work.

He also gave an update on some local projects.

The third track that will be built as part of Spotsylvania's new station is moving along, Dalton reported. Design work is expected to be finished by the end of the year, with plans to complete the track by the end of 2013.

The 2.6-mile third track will connect the new Spotsylvania station to the main line. The station is also expected to be finished by the end of 2013.

Expansion of the Brooke and Leeland station parking lots is on pace to be completed this year, Dalton said.

At Leeland, the stormwater structures are in place and crews are grading the area and installing lighting. Paving is scheduled for this month, and VRE hopes that the additional 196 spaces will be ready for use in September.

At the Brooke lot, utilities have been moved while crews continue excavation and work on stormwater structures. The 234-space expansion is expected to be finished in December.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436
Email: sshenk@freelancestar.com