The first-ever CEO of the has stepped down. The resignation of Dale Zehner was accepted by VRE Board Chair Wally Covington, and his last day is June 30.
Zehner, who lives in Fairfax Station, thanked VRE partners, the Board and staff in a statement. “In these rough economic times, the VRE Operations Board and management team have brought stability and credibility to VRE by making every dollar count, delivering on a promise to complete capital projects on time and under budget, and refusing to settle for anything less than world class service for our riders,” he said.
Zehner, a retired U.S. Navy captain, joined VRE in May 1995. He worked his way up from the Manager of Budget and Finance to Director of Planning, Customer Service, Marketing and Public Affairs and then, in 2001, became Chief of Staff. Two years later, the Board appointed him Chief Operating Officer, and then, in 2004, Zehner was appointed Chief Executive Officer.
As to why Zehner stepped down: “Dale just decided the time was right for him to retire,” said Mark Roeber, VRE public affairs manager. “He was very clear with Board and staff that it’s not for another job. It’s just Dale and his wife have family that live away from area and so do their two boys so they want more time to enjoy family.”
In 2002, VRE saw 9,800 daily trips. Now, daily ridership is at 19,100 daily and about 4.75 million passenger trips annually.
“Mr. Zehner was deeply committed to achieving excellence in our daily operation while also maintaining the concept that we should not sacrifice first-rate service for our customers,” said Covington. “It is with admiration and a bit of sadness that I accept Mr. Zehner’s resignation... His energy, passion, and dedication were a testament to his character and professionalism. We were extremely fortunate to have him for as long as we did.”