This week, the Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. decided to resign from his job after a year of tragic accidents involving the Washington, DC Metro system. However, many wonder whether this decision to step down from the job is a real symbol of coming change or an empty gesture that will do little to stop the problems, injuries, and fatalities that have plagued the DC transit system over the past year. Catoe said that the decision to leave was his own.
Some believe that Catoe inherited many of the problems faced by the District of Columbia Metro system – and that these are problems that will not be easy to fix by anyone who succeeds him. Catoe was faced with an old and crumbling infrastructure, a lack of funding, and a bureaucratic system that makes any change difficult.
According to the Washington Post, 2009 was the deadliest year ever for the DC Metro. A crash this summer killed nine and injured dozens while four other deadly accidents made it clear that the entire transit system suffered from a lack of safety measures and regulations. Specifically, many question how reliable the crash-avoidance system was and what types of safety inspections are taking place at all. All in all, eleven people died on the tracks this year while the number of track suicides rose.
Safety audits have revealed over 100 dangers that need immediate attention.
Catoe’s resignation follows the resignation of four other top Metro officials in the last month. Many are torn about whether or not this large changing of leadership would be good or bad for the organization.