Monday, December 7, 2009

If a Tree Falls in the Forest ...

On Sunday, Metro GM John Catoe fired off an angry letter to the Washington Post, saying he was "profoundly disappointed" with the Post's coverage of the "elimination" of Emeka Moneme's position as Metro's chief administrative officer in charge of safety.

Yesterday, Metro issued a press release trying to bolster Catoe's charge.

The Post's headline and lede would lead one to believe Moneme was "fired" because he "oversaw safety when the transit agency banned safety monitors from live tracks in the spring."

Catoe has a point about the headline and lede, but Metro's high-priced communications consultants should realize the article doesn't represent the first time in journalism history that a headline and/or lede was sexed up for effect.

We read the whole article and came away with the sense that the job cut was for economic reasons--a whopping $500,000 on a $175 million budget gap, mind you, but mostly a penny pinching move nonetheless.

So, Metro scores a point point here, but the key is hardly anyone is listening to Metro. According to our poll, only 13 percent of you said you trust what Metro says. That's horrible even if you double it; it's still pretty bad if you triple it. It's not even very good if you quadruple it. Metro is losing the important battle of public opinion--in a big way, and letters to the Washington Post aren't going to turn things around.

In the current climate, even if Metro became a model of safe operation tomorrow, it would have a hard, perhaps impossible, time getting people to believe it.

What could Metro do to improve it's "rap gap" in your mind?

One idea for starters: Perhaps Catoe should let us all know that he's profoundly disappointed in how Metro has performed lately. We're not holding our breath.

###

With regard to the Tri-State Oversight Committee's ability to inspect the tracks or not, that has always seemed like a red herring to us. It does look as if Metro wasn't enthusiastic about letting the TOC conduct inspections at the very least, but even if the TOC had unfettered access, we're not sure they have the power to make Metro any safer. A more robust agency, the National Transportation Safety Board, can only make recommendations, which Metro can, and does, ignore.

We suppose allowing TOC officials on the tracks is a start, but it's a very tentative one, and much more strenuous oversight of Metro's practices is needed. Not holding our breath on this count either.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Catoe should resign. That would go a long way in restoring confidence for me. The Board too! Why we're at it, tear down WMATA compact and start again, this model obviously is not working.

ttwwdc said...

the entitled many at metro have no interest in changing anything. they're getting theirs and your getting yours--a crappy commute almost every day. why do so many metro employees drive to work. they know the score

Javonni Brustow Media Mogul said...

I wouldn't listen to anything that man says. endangering the lives of the public to save money is wrong no matter how you cut it. I avoid the train and take the bus as much as I can and even then the drivers act as though they've never driven a bus before. Air condition last night when it was 31 outside. Thanks for the early flu Metro! But after the headlines John Catoe has received this year, who would even care about anything that came out of his mouth?

James said...

Metro could start with some kind of indicator on it's web site tracking delays and showing them reducing over time.

Anonymous said...

James...it seems that Metro is tracking whether or not people use the last bits of change on their farecards. From yesterday's Examiner: "In the past, Metro banked on the fact riders would throw away fare cards with a few cents left.

Chief Financial Officer Carol Kissal says in the past Metro expected about 5 percent of fares would not be used."

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/ap/metro-riders-maximizing-fare-dollars-78679962.html

Anonymous said...

Fire Cato. Get a judge to cancel the union contracts. Try again fresh. It'll never happen of course.

Anonymous said...

Want to convince me Metro is improving? Actions speak louder than words. Meanwhile, Wash Post is picking on em again.. poor Metro:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/getthere/2009/12/childs_foot_caught_in_escalato.html?hpid=newswell

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