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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?

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

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