The Federal Railroad Administration announced recently that it will advance more than $1.4 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for 70 rail improvement projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C.
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority will receive up to $100 million to design and build the Franconia-Springfield Bypass, a critical bridge that will alleviate congestion on one of busiest railways in Virginia.
In the meantime, he comment period for a proposed increase to Virginia Railway Express (VRE) fares, and other components of the rail service’s preliminary fiscal year 2025 budget (https://bit.ly/3Qa0N1T), is open and runs through 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.
VRE’s draft FY 2025 operating budget totals $119.9 million, which includes operations, maintenance, and existing debt service. This is an increase of $11 million or 10 percent over the approved FY 2024 operating budget. The budget includes increases to fares of 5 percent and the jurisdictional subsidy of 14 percent. VRE’s last broad-based fare increase was 3 percent in FY 2020.
The proposed budget provides for the first-ever operation of VRE weekend service. It also includes proposals to allow children 18 and under to ride free, make permanent the current $5 fare for travel between zones 1, 2 and 3, and simplify fare payment.
Individuals interested in providing comment may do so at the in-person public hearing on Oct. 26 in Fredericksburg, or via mail, email, telephone or fax. Public hearings are scheduled for:
Thursday, Oct. 26 from 6-7 p.m., Fredericksburg City Hall (walking distance from VRE’s Fredericksburg station), 715 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dates for two other in person hearings have passed.
The VRE Operations Board will vote to refer the FY 2025 budget to the rail service’s two parent commissions on Friday, Dec. 15. The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission’s boards will vote to adopt the proposed budget at their January 2024 meetings. If the budget as currently proposed is approved, a 5 percent fare increase would take effect Monday, July 1, 2024. The inauguration of weekend service would be dependent on agreements to be worked out with VRE’s three host railroads.
VRE connects Central and Northern Virginia with the District of Columbia. Additional information is available at www.vre.org.
Public comment may also be provided by:
VRE FY 2025 Budget Public Comment
1500 King Street, Suite 202
Alexandria, VA 22314