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GETTING THERE: Planes, trains and ... vaccines?
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GETTING THERE: Planes, trains and ... vaccines?

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On the same day President Joe Biden announced vaccine mandates aimed at millions of American workers, a Virginia lawmaker introduced pandemic-related legislation aimed at plane and train riders.

Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat who represents the 8th District in Northern Virginia, introduced the Safe Travel Act on Thursday, which would require passengers, staff and contractors of Amtrak and airlines to provide vaccination proof or a recent negative COVID-19 test.

Masks are already required on planes and trains.

Beyer said in a news release that the proposed requirements are “just common sense,” describing them as “easy steps we can take to make travel safer.”

Use of planes and trains plummeted during the pandemic last year. While more passengers are using those mass transit options now, the numbers remain low.

Taking Virginia Railway Express as an example, ridership on the commuter rail service has grown, but remains only a fraction of pre-pandemic numbers.

In July, the most recent statistics available, the total daily rider trips averaged 2,589. That figure is up from the 1,109 daily average in July 2020, but comes nowhere near pre-pandemic figures.

In July 2019, VRE’s average daily trips totaled 19,020.

Masks requirements haven’t resulted in a spike in passengers.

Would mandatory vaccines do the trick?

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PIPE WORK SET FOR BUTLER ROAD

Work to replace a deteriorated drainage pipe will reduce a stretch of Butler Road in Stafford County to one lane overnight most of the week.

Work was set to start Sunday night on the section of the road between Winterberry Drive and Camden Drive, near the Brooks Park entrance, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The work is expected to last through Friday morning. A flagging crew will direct one-way, alternating traffic through the work zone.

Crews are scheduled to start working at 8 each evening and finish by 5 the following morning, local VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon said in a news release. Both lanes will remain open when work is not being done.

Crews will be replacing a deteriorated 48-inch drainage pipe located around 10 feet beneath the road, “creating a depression in the eastbound travel lane of Butler Road,” Hannon said.

DMV BOOSTING OFFICE OPTIONS

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles plans to soon offer more in-person service at its offices across the state.

Beginning Oct. 5, drivers will be able to either walk in or schedule an appointment on alternating days. Those with appointments will be able to visit a DMV office Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Walk-in visits will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

DMV has been offering online and visits by appointment only since the pandemic started in 2020.

In a release, DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb said the department will continue offering appointments since “customers greatly appreciate” that option.

Also, more than 50 types of transactions can be completed on DMV’s website.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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