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Most VRE riders like the service
VRE survey says: respondents like on-time performance, but they have an issue with the cost to ride


Date published: 9/21/2012

BY SCOTT SHENK

This year's Virginia Railway Express survey shows that riders who responded are happy with on-time performance but they also have some concerns.

The top issue for the 6,300 riders who completed the questionnaire was cost.

VRE's new CEO, Doug Allen, noted in a summary that responses were probably affected by the timing of the survey--May 9--after the board voted to increase the fare by 3 percent.

Almost all of the categories got higher marks--on a scale of zero percent to 100 percent.

Two got lower marks. One of them was "level of fare for quality and value for service," which dropped from 63 percent to 61, according to the survey.

On the plus side, the respondents gave on-time performance a high mark.

"Eighty five percent of those responding rated OTP as excellent or above average, the highest rating we have ever received in this category," according to VRE's report on the survey. Four other categories received record-high ratings.

The survey also included several other details and desires of VRE riders:

More than half of the respondents said traffic on the roads was their top reason for riding VRE.

Almost half of the riders in the survey buy their tickets online at CommuterDirect.com.

Riders want Wi-Fi.

The respondents would like to see more service and seats.

VRE will consider the issue of seating at Friday's board meeting, during which it could vote on whether to add rail cars to trains, one on the Fredericksburg line and possibly two on the Manassas line.

Currently, Fredericksburg's peak train 303/302 has seating capacity of 810. It typically has 107 riders who have to stand. The additional car would add 260 seats.

If the board votes to add the cars, they would be added on Oct. 1.

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