Metro GM Catoe makes new commitment to safety
"We have a battle in front of us," General Manager John B. Catoe said in a statement to board members at the start of today's board meetings. It's a battle, he said, to win back public confidence in mass transit. "If people don't feel safe, we won't have riders."
"This is my declaration of war," Catoe said. "Today, it's about action, not about reviews."
He said every aspect of the Metro operation would be affected, but "no one is more accountable than I."
"I will not hesitate in taking -- if I think that we're not moving in the right direction -- to make future changes."
Last week, Catoe revamped much of his top leadership. In fact, the lineup on the staff side of the board room is different: Transit police Chief Michael Taborn just delivered the monthly safety report. To Catoe's right, where Deputy General Manager Gerald Francis ould normally be sitting, is Dave Kubicek, the head of Metrorail operations, who is serving temporarily as Catoe's deputy.
While Catoe did not detail specific actions -- he didn't say, I removed so and so because I wasn't satisfied with such and such -- he pledged the transit authority to close cooperation with the Federal Transit Administration and the Tri-State Oversight Committee. The latter is the local panel whose investigators were for months denied access to Metro tracks, a serious problem that came to the attention of Catoe and board members when Lena H. Sun and Joe Stephens reported it in The Post.
During the safety report, board members questioned staff about this year's increase in the number of passenger injuries on MetroAccess, the service for people who are elderly and disabled. The report says that from January through November, 103 people were hurt using MetroAccess. That's 37 more than at the same point last year.
Metro officials said that a significant portion of the injuries occurred when passengers didn't follow the operators' instructions -- for example, by taking off their seat belts or getting out of the transport vehicle against the advice of the driver.
December 17, 2009; 9:21 AM ET
Categories: Metro , Safety | Tags: Chief Michael Taborn, Dr. Gridlock, Federal Transit Administration, John B. Catoe Jr., Tri-State Oversight Committee
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