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Public will get chance to weigh in on VRE fare increase
Drivers question long waits at stop lights along U.S. 1 in city.

Date published: 2/20/2012

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By Scott Shenk

FOR ALL of the Virginia Railway Express riders home for Presidents Day, here are a few leftover tidbits from last week's VRE board meeting that will have an impact on the train service's future.

First, a note on the planned 3 percent fare rate increase: Riders will get a chance to support (or, more likely, not) the spike as VRE plans to hold public hearings in each member jurisdiction, which includes Fredericksburg and Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.

Expect the dates for the hearings to be set in the next week or so.

Another item the board talked about was an improved fare-payment option.

With the recent cut in federal mass-transit subsidies, the debit cards many riders use as part of the program no longer cover the full monthly fare costs. The current system allows the use of only the voucher cards. VRE plans to upgrade its system so personal cards can be also be used.

Last but not least, VRE plans to hire a search firm--to the tune of $20,000 to $30,000--in its quest to find a replacement for CEO Dale Zehner, who will retire this summer.

On to the questions. This week we have two queries about U.S. 1 traffic signals in Fredericksburg.

Dear Scott: Hi, I'm writing to ask if someone can study and possibly adjust the traffic light at Idlewild Boulevard and U.S. 1 in the city.

Coming from the Idlewild subdivision, waiting at this light is at least a two-minute affair. If a few cars or a school bus are in front of me, then I know I won't make the light, and I will have another four minutes to wait to turn left onto U.S. 1 north.

I notice many cars make a right and then an illegal U-turn at the first spot on U.S. 1 south to get back to the northbound lanes.

I know two minutes doesn't sound like a long time, but it really is, especially when there is virtually no traffic on U.S. 1.

Could the timing be adjusted so cars waiting on Idlewild Boulevard don't have to wait quite so long?

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