- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2010

Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said Thursday he has decided to retire and leave the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority after three years as its top manager.

Mr. Catoe informed Metro’s board of directors today of his decision, according to the agency. His last day will be 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,” he said. “Good leaders know how to impact change. Great leaders know when its time for leadership change. I hope I fall into the latter category.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, who is Metro board chairman, said: “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.”

Mr. Graham said the board will “shortly begin the deliberative process on transition and succession.”

Mr. Catoe began running Metro in January 2007 after working six years as the deputy chief executive officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

During his Metro tenure, the agency continued in its struggle to grow, upgrade and improve without a dedicated funding source.

Mr. Catoe also ran Metro during a stretch of deadly accidents, including the June, 22, 2009, subway crash that is the worst in Metro history. Nine people were killed and 80 were injured when a Red Line train headed toward the Fort Totten station in Northeast slammed into a stopped train during the evening rush hour.

Federal investigators are still trying to determine the cause. But preliminary finding suggest the failure of a computerized system intended to stop trains from coming too close together and the fragility of the Series 1000 rail cars that made up the striking train. Metro was warned three years earlier about replacing that car model.

Metro, which is now facing a million-dollar shortfall, is the second largest rail-transit system and the seventh largest bus network in the country.

The agency receives money from the federal government and from the District and the Maryland and Virginia municipalities it serves. But the income is not, for example, a guaranteed .01 percent of every penny in sales taxes.

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