Friday, March 26, 2010

Farewell Catoe

So, John Catoe is off to enjoy sunny California and to become a transit consultant. It's really hard for us to know just exactly what his legacy here will be. He was dealt a rough hand: a union that seems to be more a part of the problem than the solution, insufficient funding, and a legacy of bad decisions and lack of foresight almost dating back to WMATA's inception.

Seriously, it has taken WMATA six series of rail cars to finally abandon aluminum construction and hopefully get rid of that stupid carpeting. The silver lining about the new cars is that they're apparently not compatible with the existing cars!

But Back to Catoe. He was touted as a leader with vision, and some would argue he was just starting to make a difference. After all, he was named the nation's top public transit manager by the lobbyist group for mass transit.

Anyway, Catoe will be fine. Given WMATA's predilection to hire consultants instead of looking in the mirror, there will probably be plenty of opportunities for him to come back (or telework) and chip in his two cents worth. That's ten grand a week in the mass transit consulting world.

At the going rate, if he consults for a year, he'll substantially improve on his WMATA GM compensation of $360,000 a year.

Leave your farewell Catoe thoughts in the comments, and don't forget the miracle of the inauguration--the single greatest achievement in the history of mass transit ever. At least that's what WMATA would like to believe.

Catoe's last day is April 2.

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Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments there on Catoe. People unfairly used him as a scapegoat for metro's problems, and I wonder if they will do the same to the new interim manager. Catoe did a lot of good things for the agency, but those things have been masked by the frustration and hatred that have become more prevalent lately. He'll be fine, as you say - and rightfully so; he is a smart guy. Unions are the bane of my career as well; the ones I deal with are more hindrance than help, and seem to have more power than my SES director. Let's look forward to progress, and be patient with the process - these things don't change overnight. We can always take it out on the people clipping their nails on the train instead ;-)

Anonymous said...

"a union that is more a part of the problem than the solution"


Anonymous said...

Mr. Catoe, I always knew you were nuts to take the job to begin with; always thought you were somewhat brazzenly courageous to do so; always knew you'd not make a difference. Why? Because until the union issue and budget "strategies" are changed, nobody will make a difference. I still hold you accountable for some of the most rediculous political statements ever made about Metro's situation. That was your own mouth and brain failing. Have a good life, nonetheless, and hope the next job is less distasteful!

Anonymous said...

Good riddance. Don't come back and consult. You've done plenty of damage and have accomplished little. The system has continued to degrade, derail, kill employees, crash, kill customers and now we suffer through 20 minute waits after 8pm in the downtown core.

The system was poorly designed before. Under Catoe it was poorly run, poorly managed, and is now worse for the wear with an economic crisis to navigate.

Goodbye Mr. Catoe. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know the logic behind putting the arrival time electronic signs at the BOTTOM of the escalators, so that you have to ride all the way down to realize that the next train is not for 20-25 minutes before riding back up to hail a cab?

The other thing I can't understand is, when the electronic arrival time signs aren't accurate because of track maintenance, would it be that hard for a metro employee to go over and post a note (with incorrect grammar and spelling, of course), indicating that, rather than suckering the poor rider into going through the gate before they realize they've been had?

There are so many simple things that station managers could do to make riders easier (let's start with politeness). The only problem is it would require them to quite playing the Express Sudoku game, get off their rear end, and actually do some work. I'd love to know what their actual job description is.

Anonymous said...

The issue with the train ETAs display boards is rapidly removing any advantage this system had over older ones. I'd rather have the knowledge that a train will reliably roll by every 10 minutes than see that a train is 3 minutes away, sprint down to the platform and realize that it has just departed and I've got to kill 18 minutes.

Anonymous said...

The Metro Board has joked in the past that the new GM needs to be a superhero. It's true, literally. There is no way Catoe or anyone else could have fixed what 40 years of craziness has left in its wake.

Yes, we're lucky to have any Metro at all, but the failure to anticipate the increased demand on the system is appalling. The system is little more than a gussied up airport shuttle train.

Anonymous said...

The Monorail Song

Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
Like a genuine,
Bona fide,
Monorail! ...
What'd I say?
Ned Flanders: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
Patty+Selma: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!
[crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]
Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...
Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?
Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?
Lyle Lanley: You'll all be given cushy jobs.
Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?
Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.
Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.
Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.
I swear it's Springfield's only choice...
Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
All: [singing] Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: What's it called?
All: Monorail!
Lyle Lanley: Once again...
All: Monorail!
Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...
Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!
All: [singing] Monorail!
[big finish]
Homer: Mono... D'oh!

Anonymous said...

He must be counting the minutes until April 2 COB. I would be.

fdderfell said...

Good man, bad situation.

Anonymous said...

bad board ....good man

AppleDawg said...

The current situation has left the Metro people in a hole that can only be gotten out of through federal funding OR price hikes. That's it.

Shortening the cars, Shortening the times, etc...will not cut the costs that are needed.

It's pathetic

Anonymous said...

he may be a good man but he was, and demonstrated is, unqaulified to manage a rail system. WMATA is not changing, just changing faces which is part of the problem. The Union Rank and File provide continuity and stability in the organization. Management personnel roles out every three years or so. The operating budget funds spent on consultants is astronomically excessive (to provide cover for management) will continue (sadly) and hiring of non-transit experienced people in high level management continues. It is cronyism at its best (thus the worst). Catoe was not the problem but he was not the person for the position. Bring in the feds and get rid of Jim Graham and the rest of the political buffoons who put personal political security above the mission of managing and maintaining a transit system. Bring back good engineering know how to address maintenance. If not, the costs for rehabilitating the system will be astronomical rather than incremental.

Anonymous said...

"But Back to Catoe. He was touted as a leader with vision, and some would argue he was just starting to make a difference. After all, he was named the nation's top public transit manager by the lobbyist group for mass transit." Note the last phrase....the lobbyist group. He outsources so much to consultants (and destroyed the in house staff with know how) how could he not be named the "best" by the lobbyists...they are getting wealthy.

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