VRE petition grows

BY NEPHY LALAURANT

Maxime-Devilliers-1Senior Maxime Devilliers is attempting to establish a reliable and convenient form of transportation with Virginia’s mass transportation system, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE).

This past year, due to the inconvenient hours of operation, Devillier began a petition on Change.org to increase the hours and days the VRE runs in order to accommodate the University of Mary Washington community’s needs.

Without the VRE, Devilliers and many other students who do not have a vehicle on campus, would have to find alternative forms of travel.

“Just thinking about the number of hours I spent sitting in traffic, getting angry, ruining my whole day and ruining my time with people,” said Devillers. “It takes away from my life.”

As of today, Devillier has garnered up to 500 signatures for his petition and plans on receiving many more.

“I started this petition out of anger, really. I got 50 people to sign it at first, and I was excited about that, you know, that was just cool to do because I sign petitions regularly,” said Devilliers. “And then I was contacted by my environmental science professor and she said we could get more signatures. All of a sudden I started getting signatures from Arlington, D.C., Maryland, Loudon Country, Fairfax County even West Virginia. So it kind of just exploded from there.”

Located in Northern Virginia, the VRE is a mass commuting service that began in the summer of 1992. It connects the suburbs of Northern Virginia, to Union Station in Washington, D.C. The VRE runs on two major lines: the Fredericksburg line (north to south) and the Manassas line (east to west). On the Fredericksburg line, the train departs north in the morning and heads south in the evening. There are currently no other options for Fredericksburg VRE patrons. As of 2013, approximately 18,878 passengers ride the VRE daily.

According to an Eagle Eye press release, Devilliers is looking to expand the railways services by having the VRE “run one reverse train during weekday mornings and evening and at least two trains on Saturday and Sunday.” To increase awareness and support, Devillier has attended VRE board meetings to promote his cause in hopes that the board will seriously look into the issue.

“That went really well. Basically I just had three minutes to give my argument to the board. It was pretty nerve racking, but it was really exciting and they all responded to it really well, really positively,” said Devilliers. “Later that day in the meeting they approved a 30 year plan to eventually have weekend service and reverse flow.”

As explained in a report on greatergreaterwashington.org, the VRE approved a $2.68 billion improvement plan to increase railway services. Over the course of the next 30 years they will construct a new bridge over the Potomac River, allowing for more efficient costs, travels and operation hours. An improvement plan such as this has not been proposed since 2004.

In March, Devilliers will host an event to further promote the cause. On Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. Devilliers will meet with Doug Searcy, vice president of student affairs, to request his attendance along with UMW President Richard Hurley. Currently, logistics for the event have not been set in stone.

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2 Comments

  1. Theron Keller says:

    VRE is a government subsidized service. It was established because some believe it’s in the government’s best interest to move daily commuters off the overburdened highways and onto the trains. This delays the need to build more highways.

    If this proposal is ever going to get anywhere, you would need to find some interest that would serve the government, and ultimately the taxpayer, to provide these additional services.

    I don’t use VRE, but I can tell you that I do not enjoy going to the area where I work on the weekends. I can’t imagine many current VRE customers would do so either. You would need to find an entirely new customer base for weekend routes.

    “Reverse” routes are an interesting possibility. Those routes would support the growth of a high-tech industry in the local area, attracting workers who prefer to live up north. However, the industry would have to accommodate the rigorous schedule of the trains.

  2. Sam Hill says:

    I applaud Mr. Devilliers; yet there are several components of this article that seem misrepresented, or at least written in a way readers will jump to wrong conclusions.
    The first, is that in addressing the VRE Board, Mr. Devilliers was not constrained by a 3 minute time limit. While, Mr, Devilliers doesn’t say he was, the article seems to suggest it.
    The article also seems to lead the reader to the conclusion that the Board passage of the VRE System Plan was a spontaneous reaction to Mr. Devilliers appeal. In fact, the plan had been in development for a year and the finished product was brought before the Board for approval at the same meeting Mr. Devilliers attended. Again, no where in the article, does Devilliers claim credit, it is just written as to be inferred.
    Finally, much of the long term 3rd phase of the VRE System Plan depends on the Long Bridge project; but the Long Bridge expansion is not a VRE project. It’s a regional public/private planning project that will likely take decades to come to fruition.
    Sure, everyone has an idea how customizing elements of public transportation would benefit them; however, public services simply can’t accommodate specialized needs without taking away from their core intended purpose.

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