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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Three agencies take pandemic-related measures


Virginia Railway Express (VRE) has released a series of online videos designed to inform current, former and prospective passengers about the commuter railroad’s efforts to protect their health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes, the videos highlight enhanced cleaning protocols, social-distancing decals, hand-sanitizer dispensers on rail cars and platforms, workers’ use of facial coverings and a new web page detailing the number of available seats on a train.

The commuter railroad has experienced a more than 90 percent decline in ridership due to the pandemic.

“Safety has, since VRE’s inception, been our priority,” said Rich Dalton, the railroad’s acting chief executive officer, in a press release. “We want to assure commuters that, when they are ready to ride again, we are here to welcome them back in the safest and healthiest way possible.”

Meanwhile, the Maryland Transit Administration has proposed MARC and bus service adjustments to manage the fiscal impact of COVID-19 through operating and capital budget reductions. Additional details on the MARC commuter-rail service changes — which would impact the Penn and Camden lines — will be announced in fall.

A tad farther east, New Jersey Transit plans to reopen rail ticket windows Sept. 8 that were were temporarily suspended as a COVID-19 precaution. Riders who want to minimize touchpoints are encouraged to continue purchasing tickets through the agency’s mobile app and ticket vending machines.

“While ticket agents are back at their windows, everyone needs to remain as vigilant as ever before, and continue to practice social distancing and wearing a face covering for everyone’s protection,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/3/2020