The Virginia Railway Express Operations Board is unanimously recommending a former Texas transportation official to lead the commuter rail line.
The advisory board recommended Doug Allen, 58, a veteran of transit systems in Austin and Dallas, for the job filling in for former longtime CEO Dale Zehner, who stepped down in July.
“First and foremost is to continue to provide safe and quality service,” Allen said in a telephone interview. “It’s just a great service. There’s such a great demand for it.”
He said one of his primary tasks will be expanding a service that is growing in popularity.
Allen’s position would have to be approved Sept. 6 by VRE’s governing bodies — the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission.
“[Allen] brought the right credentials in,” said W.S. Covington III, a Prince William County supervisor who serves as chairman of the VRE Operations Board. VRE has to negotiate with a host of private sector and governmental entities — including rail lines Norfolk Southern and CSX, as well as state and federal entities.
“It’s a hodgepodge,” Covington said.
Allen said he served for 4.5 years in Austin and for 23 years with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system. That included a stint as interim CEO in Austin, helping jumpstart a new commuter rail line.
But Allen said he was looking to take the job of CEO somewhere and VRE fit the bill.
VRE is dealing with potentially criminal issues with one of its contractors, which the FBI is investigating, The Washington Post reported Friday. VRE board members also want assurance that a separate contracting issue is dealt with appropriately.
Allen said those issues did not detract from the job’s appeal.
“Issues come up from time to time in an organization, and it’s important they are fully investigated and taken care of,” Allen said. “This is one of those issues where it has to be addressed and handled in the appropriate manner.”
If confirmed, Allen said he will know when he will start and the details of his contract after the Sept. 6 meetings.