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Metro Chief Says He Regrets Continuing Delays

The full Metro Board and staff this morning are reviewing the latest information on the June 22 Red Line crash and the delays that continue even at this moment.

Board Chairman Jim Graham talked about the continuing mystery of why the track circuit that is supposed to detect the presence of a train in the crash zone is continuing to fail on occasion.

General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., providing update on the investigation: The equipment in the problem track circuit was changed out after the accident. The fluttering in the circuit continues. Until the investigators know why, the investigation on the site will not be complete.

"We will not rest until we do find what the cause has been." Catoe said.

"This is a time for action," he said later, as he described Metro's efforts to comply with this week's National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that Metro find a backup system to alert controllers as a failure occurs in the train protection system.

Trains will continue to be operated manually until more is known about the cause of the failure of the automatic train controls.

Transit systems from across the world are calling Metro so they can evaluate their own systems. Components of the circuit have been replaced and tested. If there's any good that can come out of this it's that this agency and others around the world can be made safer.

He has heard your complaints: "I regret that we have not been able to return to pre-accident levels of service on the Red Line," Catoe said.

On the NTSB testing that has caused Red Line delays in the crash zone: We're making every effort to assist customers in planning their travels, Catoe said, adding that he regrets the delays and is looking forward to returning the line to regular service. But the safety of customers is the number one priority.

He noted that on Monday, Metro enacted its more stgringent policy on operators texting. It's a zero tolerance policy that terminates employees after the first instance of a violation
(There's no evidence that texting or any form of cell phone use was an issue in the June 22 crash.)

Meanwhile, Red Line survice between Silver Spring and Fort Totten is suspended until 3 p.m. today, so the NTSB can continue its investigation at the crash scene. A free bus shuttle is underway to link Silver Spring, Takoma and Fort Totten, but this is bound to be slow.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 16, 2009; 11:23 AM ET
Categories:  Metro , Safety , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail delays, Red Line crash  
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Next: Red Line Rehab Program Approved By Metro Board


We regret that you have not yet tendered your resignation. Your leadership and tenure have been terrible.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 16, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I agree with those who believe that Catoe's leadership of Metro has been horrible, but who exactly do you want to replace him if and when he is forced to resign? The pool of people who are capable of leading a major public transportation system, especially after a fatal crash, can't be huge. His replacement has to be at least as capable, if not better, and I haven't heard anybody's name floated. If there are candidates, I'd like to know who they are and what their resumes look like.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | July 16, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Does he also thank me for my patience?

Posted by: mshade2000 | July 16, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Catoe should decline the manager of the year award for APTA. How can he claim to deserve it? If APTA wants to become a joke, I'll gladly make them well known with a youtube video that details Catoe's "accomplishments".

Posted by: prokaryote | July 16, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm an attorney with five years experience on the Hill (inc. transportation and labor/union issues). I'd be happy to take Catoe's job, set some long term goals like a Beltway line, third and fourth tracks, an additional tunnel, expanding Metro further North into MoCo, replacing parking garages at Shady Grove with livable communities (with parking structures), securing dedicated funding from Congress and the three jurisdictions.

...there's plenty of talented people out there with degrees in urban planning and public administration. Catoe is a large part of the problem at this point. While I give him credit on the K Street Busway idea, that could have been put forward a long time ago. A colleague on the Hill was touting the success Cordoba Colombia has had it at least 8 years ago.

We need new blood and at this point I don't really care who it is.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | July 16, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Ahh, what a shame, I regret the crowded trains, the fights on the platforms, the 100 degree temperature in Metro Center, the 2 hour commutes ... now, if you'll excuse me, my limo is waiting. Driver! Please bring me a cold ice tea for the ride! (Now don't any of you riders try that, or we might slam your head into the ground and arrest you!)

Posted by: DellC | July 16, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

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