Everyone loves a parade, so when I woke up the morning after the history-making Washington Nationals’ World Series win, I contacted Virginia Railway Express to see if it planned to provide service to the victory parade on Saturday.
- It doesn’t, so you can forget about riding the rails from Fredericksburg or Manassas to see the championship team celebrate its victory over the Houston Astros.
- VRE said Amtrak offers some Saturday service along the line, and OmniRide is providing its regular Saturday bus service between Woodbridge and the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.
After watching every thrilling and (at times) agonizing minute of the World Series, I plan to go to the parade.
- But I’m not looking forward to being lumped in with the crush of people who will, undoubtedly, line up at the Springfield Metro just to enter the station (this happened in 2010 when Jon Stewart held a rally on the National Mall, and we abandoned our plans to go as the line was so long).
- While Washington, D.C. officials said not to, and despite planned road closures in the city, I’m thinking of using an online parking app, securing a parking space, and driving to the parade.
Virginia’s only commuter rail system is a vital link between Virginia’s growing suburbs and the capital city.
- It’s long been reserved for federal workers, many of whom receive subsidized rides to and from work, and those who may be visiting the city during the workweek.
But VRE should start thinking outside the box at providing new service, to new riders, to new destinations outside the general office building.
- It could take a page out of OmniRide’s book, whose executive Director Bob Schneider is starting — for the first time in its history, service outside of Prince William County to Stafford, and is exploring the possibility of a Potomac River ferry that would make OmniRide more than just a bus company.
- The only VRE trains run for those not headed to their daily 9-5 are on Independence Day, Santa trains near Christmas, and excursions for the Clifton Day and the Manassas Heritage Railway Festival.
- VRE is searching for a new CEO, and that person — like Schneider has done for OmniRide — could help shape a new VRE for the 21st century.
I can imagine a time when the now greatest baseball city is connected via rail to the newest city to have a baseball stadium, Fredericksburg, the new home for the Fredericksburg Nationals starting in April.
- When fans flock to see star players of the Washington Nationals come to rehab with the Fred Nats, as they did when the team was the Potomac Nationals and it played in Woodbridge, or when fans are headed to a game Nats Park in Washington, they can ride VRE north or south.
- And, with a new $2 billion Long Bridge in place, we might take the train to watch the Nats clobber the Orioles in Baltimore.