"The problem is that you can’t rely on the service for anything besides commuting to the core during traditional work hours. Once the slots are there, VRE needs to start looking more like an RER type system that offers all day mobility," KTHW wrote. In 2004, VRE was saying on its website that its "core business" was "taking people into the business district in the morning and bringing them home in the evening." Its service pattern is essentially the same now as it was 17 years ago.
In 2015, VRE's Chief Development Officer, Thomas Hickey, told the Virginia Assn. of Railway Patrons that VRE was starting a study of expansion toward regional express rail with frequent service seven days a week. Six years later, I haven't seen any signs of VRE moving in that direction.
Later that year, VRE told VARP, "There is not enough demand to warrant weekend or reverse commute service." VARP asked to see the research that led to this conclusion. VRE didn't show us anything, and I doubt that any research was done. VRE referred to its current pool of passengers as though they represented all the people who would ride, with any weekend passengers, for example, being a subset of weekday rush-hour commuters. I don't think VRE has seriously researched the market, which would include a whole lot of people who do not commute on the train.
Still, since the beginning, people have been using VRE for purposes it is not designed for, such as day trips to Washington, commuting to employment centers such as Quantico, commuting to college, and getting to the airport. Only some trips can be made using VRE's schedule, but some people take advantage of it to the extent it can meet their needs.
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