Queuing in Aisles/Vestibules


Queuing in Aisles/Vestibules


As a young Operations Manager at Walt Disney World, I struggled with t=
he balance between the constant focus on Courtesy, and the overriding imp=
ortance of Safety. I learned quickly that nothing took priority over Safe=
ty. Getting guests to understand the importance of Safety and the inevita=
ble rules and policies that resulted was tough. A veteran manager told me=
once that sometimes we have to protect people from themselves be=
cause they get into this place and they don’t see or understand the inher=
ent dangers that could result in injury if we did not hold fast to our gu=
idelines and policies.

Thirty years later, I joined VRE because of its reputation for excelle=
nt customer service and impeccable safety standards. I ride the train dai=
ly, usually from Brooke, Fredericksburg, or Broad Run. I have seen the pa=
ssengers alight at Broad Run and sprint to their cars so that they don’t =
get stuck in the inevitable long line of traffic on Piper Lane. I have se=
en passengers run to the stairs at Rippon to make sure they are first up =
and across the bridge to the parking lot. I have seen the Leeland passeng=
ers do the same because the parking lot exits on to Leeland Road and Prim=
mer House Road tend to back-up. We have sent out numerous courtesy and sa=
fety reminders to all passengers to drive safely through parking lots, no=
t to push and shove your way off the train, not to block access to the ve=
stibules so other passengers can exit at their stations and not miss thei=
r stop,…etc.

One of the major issues, where courtesy reminders have not had the des=
ired effect, is standing in the vestibules. Is it safe to stand in a vest=
ibule? Yes. Is it as safe as sitting or standing in the main body of the =
car? No. We recognize that there are times when the trains are very crowd=
ed and standing in the vestibule is necessary. On the Fredericksburg Line=
, though, that situation is resolved by the time we depart Rippon and Qua=
ntico (on the Manassas Line, the same is true after Burke Centre). Theref=
ore, the conductors ask passengers to clear the vestibule and aisles. Thi=
s is primarily for the safety of the passengers in the vestibules, and se=
condarily allows clear access so that passengers wishing to get off at th=
e southern stations are not blocked from doing so. In the past few weeks,=
we have received numerous complaints about passengers wishing to exit at=
Brooke, not being allowed access by the crowds already queuing and occup=
ying the vestibule for their own departure at Leeland Road. In efforts by=
the conductors to resolve this issue, we have had a conductor threatened=
with bodily harm, a conductor cursed at and verbally harassed, and a con=
ductor physically shoved by a passenger.

We understand the desire to get home as quickly as possible and put th=
e work day behind you. Like many of you, I ride one of the first two trai=
ns up in the morning, putting me in my office by 6:00 or 6:30 am. Since w=
e cannot offer a train at 2:30 or 3:00 pm, and if I am lucky enough to be=
able to leave the office, I ride 303, getting me back to Brooke at 5:00 =
pm. 12 hours from the time I arrived there in the morning. Unfortunately,=
that is the price we pay for working in the city and living so far south=
. Everyone on the train faces the same situation, and everyone would pref=
er to be at home enjoying what remains of their day. We strive to get eve=
ryone to their destination stations on time and, most important, safely.

We have now, what I believe is one of those situations where w=
e need to protect some folks from themselves.
Our cars are made =
to accommodate standing, the vestibules are not. When a train clears enou=
gh passengers to allow everyone onboard to have a seat, we will ask that =
all passengers clear the vestibules and take a seat, or at least stand wi=
thin the main body of the car. We will reiterate our request to not queue=
in the aisles until the train has departed the station prior to your ult=
imate destination.

Our conductors are some of the best in the industry and we are very pl=
eased with their overall performance, as are most of you, according to ou=
r most recent Customer Service Survey. The conductor is the person solely=
responsible for the safe passage of the train. He or she is the sole aut=
hority on the train for what is and is not acceptable. He or she also has=
the authority to remove passengers from the train if they choose to igno=
re or defy a request. We obviously do not want a situation to ever get to=
that point, but we will also not tolerate the kind of behavior that a ve=
ry small minority of our passengers has exhibited in the past few weeks. =
It would be a shame to have to change our procedures and inconvenience an=
entire trainload of passengers just to deal with a few who refuse to com=
ply with our requests.

To reiterate and make the point clear:

No standing in the vestibules,

Remain seated until the train has departed the station before =
your destination, and

Obey any requests made by the Conductors.

Failure to comply on any one of these issues could result in t=
he conductor stopping the train, not departing a station until everyone i=
s in a safe position, or removing passengers from the train.


Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy communication. I ho=
pe that this addresses many of the concerns that we see repeatedly throug=
h GoTrains and on the Online Forum. As always, we thank you for making VR=
E your commuting choice.

If you have any questions or comments concerning this or any other iss=
ues, please feel free to contact me through GoTrains@vre.org

Chris Henry

Director of Rail Operations 



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