The Virginia Railway Express Operations Board voted Friday to authorize the CEO to solicit public comments through email, letter and phone about a proposed amendment to the VRE smoking policy.
At the May 18 meeting, the board discussed changing the current VRE policy, which limits smoking to the first 100 feet at the north end of station platforms. Smoking isn't permitted on trains.
VRE board member and Manassas Park City Councilman Suhas Naddoni told the board that he would like to see designated smoking areas away from non-smoking passengers, because of the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Second-hand smoke is especially a problem in Manassas Park because the platform entrance is at the north end where smoking is allowed, Naddoni said during the May 18 meeting.
VRE board Chairman Wally Covington of Prince William County said that his jurisdiction would likely support a smoking ban at VRE stations.
CEO Dale Zehner told the board that it is important for the smoking policies to be consistent at all VRE stops.
VRE board member Sharon Bulova of Fairfax County said that it seemed like the majority of jurisdictions along the VRE line have, or will have smoking bans.
She suggested having a no-smoking policy on the platform, but said ashtrays would still be allowed in the parking lot away from crowds.
Here’s what some of the other public transit systems in the area are doing. This information was gathered for the VRE board by VRE staff.
The Washington Area Transit Authority (WMATA): Smoking is prohibited in all WMATA vehicles—Metrobus, Metrorail and official vehicles—and facilities. Smoking is also prohibited within a 25-foot radius of any entrance, exit, or passageway that is an entrance or egress for a WMATA facility. The smoking policy at bus shelters and outside of Metrorail stations is based on the smoking ordinance of the local jurisdiction.
The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC): No smoking on buses, but smoking is allow at bus shelters.
The Fairfax Connector: Smoking is prohibited on buses and inside bus shelters owned by Fairfax County.
Fredericksburg Regional Transit Authority (FRED): No smoking on buses and only in designated smoking areas at headquarters.