It is time for the Metro Board of Directors to be held accountable.
Currently, the unelected Board apparently answers to nobody. It is unclear exactly how its members are selected and how they can be removed. The public has no impact on their decisions and, because it’s not clear who picks the members, the public doesn’t really know who to complain to when the Board does something that we disagree with.
For example, the Metro Board today extended General Manager John Catoe’s contract for another three years. Catoe took over in 2006 and, as far as I can tell, has done absolutely nothing to stop the system’s precipitous slide. During his tenure, he continued his predecessor’s policy of ignoring NTSB recommendations and putting passenger safety at risk. Even though he came to Washington from the Los Angeles transit system, southern neighbor of San Francisco’s BART system (which has had a real fail-safe train detection system for decades), Catoe never thought of putting one in place here. He even had the audacity to claim that no such system existed.
In my humble opinion, Catoe and the Metro Board have blood on their hands because of their failure to take basic, common sense steps to protect riders before the deadly MetroRail collision in June. Don’t think it’s all that bad? Read up on what’s been going on.
Bottom line: Catoe and the Metro Board are completely out of touch with the taxpayers and Metro riders. It is time for new leadership.
CORRECTION 9/30/2009: This piece originally stated that John Catoe came to Washington from the San Francisco BART system. Catoe, however, came to Washington from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. I have corrected the error. Thank you to Brett Tyler of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for calling this error to my attention.