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VRE Chief Hired Amid Salary Debate


WOODBRIDGE, Va. — The man who will lead Virginia Railway Express for the next 20 years comes to the region from Austin, Texas.

Doug Allen was picked from a field of contenders to lead Virginia’s only commuter rail service. Prior to VRE, Allen was the Executive Vice President of Capital Metro where 32.4 million people boarded their buses and light rail line in 2011.

So far this year, VRE clocked its highest passenger ridership day on July 24 with nearly 21,000 passenger trips.

“The Operations Board felt that Mr. Allen’s background and his previous experience made him a perfect fit for moving VRE ahead in the years to come,” said VRE Chairman Wally S. Covington.

But Allen’s hiring did not come without some controversy, as some of the commuter rail’s Operations Board tried to block the hiring.

The Washington Post reports Prince William County Delegates Richard Anderson and Jackson Miller, Stafford County Board of County Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson, and Spotsylvania Supervisor Benjamin Pitts – who all serve on the VRE Operations Board — voted against hiring Allen during closed door session of the Operations Board meeting. At issue was Allen’s $230,000 annual salary, $30,000 for moving expenses, $30,000 in deferred compensation throughout the life of his contract, and health insurance included, according to the Post.

Allen is the permanent replacement for former CEO Dale Zehner who left VRE in June after nearly 20 years of growing the commuter rail system into the growing system it has become.

VRE operates two lines between Virginia and Union Station in Washington: One line from Fredericksburg, and another from the Manassas Regional Airport to Washington, D.C.


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  • Dale Zehner didn’t work at VRE when it first began in 1992, so he wasn’t CEO for 20 years. I doubt Doug Allen will work at VRE for 20 years because he’ll be 78 years old in 20 years.

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