You have to wonder if the American Public Transit Association (APTA), America’s own transit lobby, is embarrassed that it named the general manager of Washington Metro, John Catoe, the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of 2009 less than a month before his railroad killed nine of his customers.
He was lauded in the award for overhauling a transit system that had recently killed six people and suffered a train derailment that injured 20. I guess his overhaul didn’t work as well as APTA thought.
After the crash, Catoe insisted that his rail system was “safe” even as the Washington Post reported that MetroRail’s failsafe circuits were failing across the system. Catoe also claimed that his agency recently tested 3,000 of the circuits and found that all but a handful were fine (and it replaced those), but the National Transportation Safety Board now reports that there were signs of system failures as long ago as 2007.
MetroRail’s trains have a top speed of 59 mph and an average speed of 33 mph. Just wait until people like this get their hands on trains with top speeds of 220 mph. Then we can expect to see some real fireworks combined with masterful efforts at covering up the problems.