Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who Do You Believe?

Yesterday afternoon, the Post broke a scary story about how the train control system that appears to have been at the root of the June 22 crash is riddled with problems throughout all of Metro. That Metro is chock (oops) full of fail doesn't surprise us, but what made our jaw drop was GM John Catoe caught in an apparent bold (or bald) faced lie.

"The documents [obtained by the Post] show that Metro technicians have detected malfunctions since at least July 11. Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said publicly as recently as Thursday that the agency physically inspected all 3,000 circuits and did not note any problems."

Later in the evening, Catoe, with an impish Jim Graham at his side, vigorously refuted the Post story.

If you don't want to watch the video, WTOP has a good summation.

So who do you believe?

Other items:
Metro employees access to documents cut (
Recent crash failure echoes 2005 near-miss (Examiner)
Retired train operator: 'The system can let you down' (Examiner)

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Brian said...

Maybe Catoe should go into politics after his Metro career comes to an end? It seems like two of every three words out of his mouth is a lie these days, that should be enough to get him into the House at least.

Kidding aside, this whole thing scares the hell out of me. Equipment breaks- thats life. The crash was okay by me- as long as it was an isolated thing. Learn lessons from it, make sure the situation can't happen again, and move on.

Not here though. Now we're finding that not only was this not an isolated incident, but that its a wonder it didn't happen years sooner. Thats half a dozen spots on the system (including four different lines) with spots where the same damn thing could have happened- in theory STILL could- at any moment.

NTSB may not have the power to enforce changes. Someone needs to step in at this point though- its obvious Catoe isn't concerned with safety. Do we need more people to die before they'll start fixing these problems?

Mr. Spontaneous said...

The Post doesn't carry much cred with me, but the WMATA has far less.

Anonymous said...

Even if you don't believe either source... all anyone has to do is look at the trail of disruptions on any given day throughout the entire system to see that there is a definite problem.

Tom A. said...

I WITNESSED the incident the Post reports on today. last week between Takoma and Ft. Totten at around 8:15am the driver announced we had to wait for a train on the platform at Ft. Totten, which I could clearly see from the front car. I also saw the red light signal. About 20 seconds later the signal turned to green, but that train on the platform was still sitting there! I then heard the driver speaking with "mission control" about the issue.

How can Catoe be lying about this when all of his staff know the truth?

Dave said...

@Tom A

Keep in mind those signals are not to indicate whether or not the track is clear. The signals indicate what position the switches at the ends of each station are in.

Daniel M. Laenker said...

Well, he did say he was going to run WMATA as well as he ran LACMTA. And that certainly seems to be what we're getting here.

Anonymous said...

Post information is too detailed to be made up. Catoe's assertion is vague.

Anonymous said...

Why can't I vote for neither?

HurricaneDC said...

I believe the Post, mostly because the more WMATA looks like it sucks the more likely it'll get fixed.

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