Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student


Metro chief resigns over security issues

It’s the second-largest Metro system in the United States, in a city that draws millions of tourists every year, but many fear Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority trains could be too dangerous to ride.

Periodic delays between residential areas and downtown D.C., as frustrating as they might be to passengers, are only part of the problem. Repeated safety incidents, resulting in numerous injuries and even deaths, drive passengers away from relying on the Metro. This has the potential to create safety issues within the city for pedestrians and cars, should many decide to drive instead.  

The D.C. Metro experienced its worst accident on June 22, 2009, when nine people died and several others were injured. Since then, two more fatal accidents have occurred. Aging equipment coupled with an increasing portion of the population dependent on the metro to commute to and from work strains the system’s capabilities.

Metro Chief John Catoe announced last month that he would step down from his position due to numerous safety lapses and crowded conditions that pose risks to countless passengers and metro personnel.

Pressured by shareholders and passengers, Catoe decided to resign from his position even though many believe his leadership can successfully turn the inter-city transit system around.

“Good leaders know how to impact change. Great leaders know when it’s time for leadership change. I hope I fall into the latter category,” Catoe said.

With the change in leadership, Washington hopes to revitalize the Metro system and instigate reform aimed at repairing the tracks and stations.

To maintain current customers, the WMATA is looking for ways to close the current budget gap for the 2010 fiscal year. Multiple options have been identified, such as reducing service, recovering insurance claims from the 2009 incident, using the reserve fund and increasing fares. A sizable budget shortfall for the 2011 fiscal year and decreases in service due to much-needed repairs are expected regardless of the option chosen. 

By paying attention to the options that appeal to passengers, the WMATA can ensure that it does not push consumers to different methods, thereby congesting street traffic. Although costs are expected to rise and service to decrease, repairs should be completed within 5 to 7 years, extending the life of the D.C. Metro while improving safety for both passengers and personnel.

Get stories like this in your inbox