BY CAMILLE TURNER
Max Devilliers, senior environmental science major and ecology representative from the University of Mary Washington’s Sustainability Office, wrote a petition asking the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) to extend its services to weekends and counter rush hour, making it easier for UMW students and faculty to commute to and from Northern Virginia
The petition currently has 248 signatures, with no current goal set.
Devilliers said he was inspired by how the Maryland Rail Commuter offered counter rush hour traffic service for years and recently declared that it will provide weekend service beginning Dec. 7.
Devilliers said the VRE is a much better option than driving to and from Northern Virginia.
“Trains can do a lot to reduce carbon emissions,” said Devilliers. “The VRE is so easy, clean, fast, cheap and the views from the train are beautiful.”
Devilliers said in addition to environmental issues, traffic, gas prices and scarce and expensive parking, UMW students who want to travel to D.C. for the weekend have to miss both Friday and Monday classes because of the restricted service.
“If I didn’t want to skip classes, I had to take the Greyhound or Amtrak, and they are more expensive,” said Devilliers.
Cara Peters, junior business major, said that she commutes to D.C. often on weekends to visit her boyfriend.
“If I go up there, I have to wait until 7 p.m. to leave to avoid traffic,” said Peters.
Peters said that access to the VRE on weekends would make the commute to D.C. much easier.
“I really hate driving on 95 in particular,” said Peters. “If there was another option, I’d take it.”
The VRE is operated by Keolis, a French-owned company, so providing funds for the extra services wouldn’t come out of Virginian’s tax dollars, according to Devilliers.
Devilliers said the VRE might be hesitant to offer the extra services because of low monetary profit for them.
“Obviously it won’t generate as much revenue as rush hour trains because those are always packed,” said Devilliers. “I think that it’s going to be hard to convince the company to do something for less profit, but I think that a good number of people would take the train during those extra hours.”
According to Devilliers, MoveOn, a petition website built for grassroots campaigns, is hosting the petition and agreed to pay for it to be printed. Devilliers plans to hand-deliver the petition to Paul Smedberg, Chairman of the VRE Operations Board.
“I think that the region could really benefit from this, especially as Fredericksburg continues to grow so much,” said Devilliers.