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Metro General Manager John Catoe to retire

by Prince Of Petworth — January 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm 11 Comments


Well, I along with about 10 other bloggers had the pleasure of sitting down for a lengthy discussion with Mr. Catoe to talk about Metro’s problems and future. There was no mention of an imminent retirement, not even a hint… I consider the sit down pretty moot at this point. Oh well. Here’s the announcement from Metro:

“Metro General Manager John Catoe has decided to retire and leave the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after three years as its top manager. Catoe informed Metro’s Board of Directors today of his decision to leave the transit agency. His last day will be Friday, April 2.

“I have decided that it is time for me to channel my future in new directions and provide this organization an opportunity to move beyond the current distractions,” Catoe said. “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.”

“The Board of Directors has just been informed of General Manager Catoe’s decision to retire,” said Board Chairman Jim Graham. “We appreciate his stewardship during this difficult time and we will miss his leadership. While we regret his decision, he continues to have the full confidence of the Board of Directors.

“We will shortly begin the deliberative process on transition and succession,” Graham said.”

  • Neener

    Good move and I am surely alone in my mild interest toward his retirement. Serious metro users have been calling for this for months now.

  • Do you think it have anything to do with the recent accident?

  • Steve

    He had a thankless job. No money to reform the system, intrangegent work force. I actually feel bad for him.

    The agency needs to be blown up and recreated with a CEO with near dicatorial skill. That the Metro board rejects reveune stream projects such as kiosks in stations is a joke. The Munich system has a freakin grocery story for gods sake! Surely leaseing space for news stands and coffee vendors would help the system.

    Good luck to the board in finding a sucker to take the job!

    • agree with everything you said

      • Ragged Dog

        It’s time for the citizens to take over operation of the Metro. I’ll take the 4:30p Redline from SG.

        Actually the board is about 80% of the problem. They coddle the union and are 100% over their heads. Between Kwame and Graham it’s a wonder metro isn’t paying $150k to every wmata employee. You can’t have dimwits micro-managing an organization as large and technical as metro and expect it to function correctly and within a budget. They do nothing about big picture problems, they cater to small insignificant groups of riders, and they interfere with day to day operations. Nothing good happens until DC appoints new board members.

  • SG

    Let’s be honest- Metro needs it Michelle Rhee (or Dan Taglierini would be the best, but that ain’t gonna happen). Someone needs to clean house at the mid levels and instill some discipline in scheduling. You see wayyy too many traings bunched, even out where they begin service towards the ends of lines. It’ll be 2 minutes, then 14 and 16. That’s not how the system used to operate.

    Maybe we can find a German or Swiss train guru and have them revamp Metrorail and increase efficiency. haha Only half-kidding…

    One main problem with Catoe is that he was miscast in the role. They brought him in because he was a bus guy, and Metro bus was the weakness of the system since the train service was pretty good. And he did in fact improve the bus system- but the bread and butter of Metro is rail- not bus. It’s what gives the system its credibility and appeal, and acts as a substitute for driving. For Metro, buses are important, but the train system makes or breaks the perception of the system as a whole and can put a stranglehold on the entire region.

    That being said, he really did not rise to the occasion at all, and didn’t seem capable of leading Metro. It is merciful that he stepped down. There’s no telling what could have happened if he had continued the status quo. Now the Board need to do the right thing and get a reformer in there who can fight through decades of secrecy and bureaucracy to transorm WMATA into an accountable and efficient entity. It will probably involve a protracted fight against the union though, and will be ugly. Thankfully, I think the will and fury of the public is there to support the effort. Bring Metro back to its former glory!!

    • Of course the will and fury of the public is there. They are being killed and hurt for something as inconsequential as a daily commute.

      I don’t think he has done a good job with the buses either.

      The bus drivers are still being reckless.

  • Translation:

    “People have been killed. People have been hurt. The system is not running or looking as good as it used to. It also needs more money. They want me gone and if I go gracefully by retiring they will make it worth it for me to do so”

  • Steve

    Taglierini? Wasn’t he at Metro before? Now he is a Senior Treasury guy. He ain’t coming back. A Michelle Rhee type person is not the only answer. Rhee would not have the tracting she has had Fenty not taken the schools away from the School Borad. See the trend? I have not seen Metro’s charter, but it needs to go. Metro needs to be governmed by a very strong, almost facist interstate compact, much like the Port Authority is in the New York, New Jersey area. Until they have the authority to bust heads and have tax supported dedicated funding stream it is going to continue to crumble.

  • SG: “Bring back Metro to its former glory”??? When was that?

    Steve: Agree completely.

  • The system needs more money and it needs leadership that can take up that issue, expand the system within the core region while saying no to silly exurb expansion projects, and develop internal accountability. And I’m not talking the GM. The board needs to go and be replaced with an elected body. There needs to be dedicated funding by all member counties/cities (those that don’t participate will no longer get service.)

    Metro is great service struggling as it enters middle age while still relying on the funding streams and management structure it had when it was brand new and the pet project of the Federal Government. The region needs to take ownership of the system, and start paying for it.


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