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By Angela Cotey, Associate Editor
Many transit takers log hundreds of hours a year on commuter-rail or subway cars traveling to and from the office. And they can spend their commute time relaxing, reading the paper or a book, or chatting up a fellow passenger instead of sitting in highway gridlock.
But convincing commuters to leave behind their beloved automobile in favor of a train isn’t always an easy task. Many need something in return. And those commuters already using — and paying for — transit services are becoming more and more demanding of creature comforts they believe they deserve.
“Riders expect more and feel they’re paying for more, so we try and raise the riders’ experience up to meet that expectation,” says Mark Roeber, spokesman for Virginia Railway Express (VRE). “You can’t always do it, but at least we’re trying to provide the services they want or think they need to have.”
So, transit agencies are adding rail-car amenities. And in this case, the term “amenity” is used loosely — it covers everything from seating arrangements and interior design to bike racks to technology.
“We’re motivated to get people out of their cars and onto trains and buses to get to and from work, and one of the things that helps is our amenities,” says Wayne Friesner, Trinity Railway Express’ (TRE) vice president of commuter rail and railroad management. “It’s an enticement that helps bring additional customers.”