Woman Going to Court Over Time Stamp on VRE Ticket

A Virginia woman says she bought a Virginia Railway Express ticket fair and square -- but she was accused of fare evasion because the time stamped onto the ticket was wrong.

Jennifer Pemberton faces a $100 fee plus court costs after she says she bought a ticket about 3:30 p.m. March 16 but the time stamp said 8:40 a.m. that day.

Pemberton rode the VRE for the first time last week when Metro shut down all rail service. She took a bus to work and then rode VRE to get back to her car in Springfield, Virginia. She bought a ticket, boarded the train and then an employee asked to see the ticket.

"The conductor that I dealt with really treated me as if I was a criminal," she said, noting the worker kept the ticket.

Pemberton said she bought the ticket about 3:30 p.m. but the time stamp said she bought it about 8:40 a.m. She said her credit card company verified the charge of $6.75 that afternoon.

"I have proof that I actually paid for it," she said. "I didn't steal the ticket from someone else or try to reuse it from that morning."

Pemberton could skip appearing in court by paying the $100 fine and court costs, but she plans to make her case next month before a judge.

VRE CEO Doug Allen said the system has a process for handling complaints from riders who say they have been ticketed unfairly.

"If it was something that is waivable, we'll process it that way," he said, declining to comment on Pemberton's case.

VRE workers issue about 120 to 150 summonses per month, but about two-thirds of those are waived after riders show they have monthly passes, and for other reasons, Allen said.

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