• VRE ridership still far below pre-pandemic levels

  • Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.
Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.

Moderators: mtuandrew, therock, Robert Paniagua

  by davinp
 
The pandemic continues to have negative impacts on public transportation, and Virginia Railway Express commuter system is proof of that.

The average number of daily trips in February 2020 was more than 18,000, according to VRE data. The average this October was just under 3,000.

Low ridership numbers have resulted in a loss in revenue.

VRE revenue is more than $2 million below budget — that’s down nearly 50%.

Federal COVID-19 funding has helped to ease the revenue shortfall.

Officials had hoped more workers would return to the office in fall which would have increased ridership, but that did not happen. We don't know when ridership will return to pre-pandemic levels

https://wtop.com/virginia/2021/11/vre-r ... ic-levels/
  by eolesen
 
Sounds right based on my visual checks of commuter lots in my area.

I'd expect the growing fear/uncertainty/doubt over the new Omicron variant will cause large numbers of firms revert back to a remote stance starting as soon as this week.

To be clear, nobody is said to have been hospitalized let alone died from Omicron, but the severity of symptoms never seems to matter to some public health officials... the fact it's a mutation of COVID-19 is all we need to know apparently.
  by west point
 
It will take South Africa 2 weeks to get preliminary data for severity and how transmissible Omicron will be. But that will only be preliminary. So please get VAXED / boosted as required now. IMHO do not wait for data on Omicron.
  by danib62
 
VRE and MARC need to dump the peak direction only 9-5 focused schedule in favor of an all day two way schedule otherwise they will fade into obsolescence.
  by scratchyX1
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 3:56 pm
danib62 wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 2:51 pm VRE and MARC need to dump the peak direction only 9-5 focused schedule in favor of an all day two way schedule otherwise they will fade into obsolescence.
Then what is the Penn Line?
The lines that Csx owns are constrained by number of tracks, made worse by PSR train lengths.
I agree, and while waiting on new long Bridge, the two agencies should get DMU, maybe with VRE using them for woodbine to pot yard metro light service
  by STrRedWolf
 
scratchyX1 wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 7:12 pm The lines that Csx owns are constrained by number of tracks, made worse by PSR train lengths.
I agree, and while waiting on new long Bridge, the two agencies should get DMU, maybe with VRE using them for woodbine to pot yard metro light service
Agreed on the Camden and Brunswick lines, although the newer Howard Street tunnel and bridge work will help in this regard as it'll double-stack these loads. At least Camden's rush hour both directions, while Brunswick is rush hour/rush direction like VRE.

That said, MARC just got the Siemens Chargers (within the past 3 years). It'll be a while before they switch over to DMUs, and they'll probably pick up some ACS-64's first for Penn line service. VRE is all in diesel territory.
  by scratchyX1
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 11:47 pm
scratchyX1 wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 7:12 pm The lines that Csx owns are constrained by number of tracks, made worse by PSR train lengths.
I agree, and while waiting on new long Bridge, the two agencies should get DMU, maybe with VRE using them for woodbine to pot yard metro light service
Agreed on the Camden and Brunswick lines, although the newer Howard Street tunnel and bridge work will help in this regard as it'll double-stack these loads. At least Camden's rush hour both directions, while Brunswick is rush hour/rush direction like VRE.

That said, MARC just got the Siemens Chargers (within the past 3 years). It'll be a while before they switch over to DMUs, and they'll probably pick up some ACS-64's first for Penn line service. VRE is all in diesel territory.
Remember, marc used to use Rdcs on some Camden runs.
This would be the two agencies repairing for frequent run-through service, possibly for a segment of two routes. Say laurel park (where a siding could be built) to Lorton. To act as a metro express, for DC region.
Until long bridge 2 is built, the sets could be used for described frequent nova service, which would help rebuild ridership.
Obviously, there would be challenges, like new fare system, so single crew could operate, ordering DMU with automatic traps for low platforms, and building platforms on both sides. But that isn't impossible, look at, most of the rest of the world.
  by daybeers
 
VRE has all the problems of most North American commuter railroads: subsidizing urban sprawl and suburbia with giant parking lots where a train stops and takes generally 9-5 workers downtown in the morning and back out in the evening. THAT is why VRE is struggling, not because most workers aren't back downtown, not because the pandemic has forever changed transportation, not because more people are moving further into suburbs and exurbs, not because car sales are up, but because the model never worked in the first place!
  by mmi16
 
So you are in FAVOR of more GRIDLOCK on both I-95 and I-66.

The Virginia model is to remove automobile traffic from those routes, the same as Virginia's efforts to enhance rail transportation to remove trucks from I-95, I-81 and I-85.
  by eolesen
 
You really think the VA mod will get meaningful numbers of cars off the roads?.....

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by KTHW
 
The geography of the lines is less of a problem than the schedule and rolling stock.
VRE generally follows two and a half of the main NOVA arterials (95 and 66/495), so we know there is hypothetical demand there.
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, and it needs to move away from loco powered trains. Unfortunately the second one seems very unlikely given their recent rolling stock orders.
  by danib62
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 3:56 pm
danib62 wrote: Tue Nov 30, 2021 2:51 pm VRE and MARC need to dump the peak direction only 9-5 focused schedule in favor of an all day two way schedule otherwise they will fade into obsolescence.
Then what is the Penn Line?
The only line with half decent ridership because it's the only line with all day 2 way service.
  by scratchyX1
 
KTHW wrote: Sat Dec 04, 2021 11:52 am The geography of the lines is less of a problem than the schedule and rolling stock.
VRE generally follows two and a half of the main NOVA arterials (95 and 66/495), so we know there is hypothetical demand there.
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, and it needs to move away from loco powered trains. Unfortunately the second one seems very unlikely given their recent rolling stock orders.
They also need to put in high level platforms on both sides, to avoid using crossovers, for service.
Shame VRE couldn't lease say, some FLIRTS, to prototype RER type service.
  by kitchin
 
Realistically... the infrastructure law is only $66b for rail (over five years I think, with 1/3 to Amtrak itself, and 2/3 in state grants?). That's far from the needs of Connect US. I think that Buttigieg at DOT has a fighting shot at doing a good job, even on the NEC mega projects, but he may only have three of those five years. Meanwhile, VRE is funded by local cities and counties and has always built out conservatively. Statewide, Virginia has these projects, aside from adding more trains (of the same type) on VRE:

1. Long Bridge (expensive).

2. Build rail on the empty S-line corridor from Petersburg to Raleigh (expensive). I'm putting this second, because it's what I would prioritize after the Long Bridge.

3. Rehab the state-owned rail line to Blacksburg and build a station (semi-expensive).

4. Cheap station at Bedford.

5. The DC2RVA Rail project, ready to go (expensive). This is most likely the state's 2nd priority. It goes from the Long Bridge to Petersburg, with major costs around Richmond.

6. More trains on the Northeast Regionals, up from 9 to 15 roundtrips daily at Richmond, and one more on the Roanoke line. Again, the state will rank this much higher.

Politics in Virginia flipped in November, and neither candidate campaigned on transportation, or really any other issue. It was an image battle. So we don't know if the new electoids will favor rural over urban or anything else. The state fund established last year is supposed to be lock-boxed, but who knows.

The S-line is a sweet spot, because it sends jobs to a depressed area, if done right, and is the most long-term oriented plan, and North Carolina is onboard. It cuts an hour to Raleigh even at normal speeds.