Too many deaths for Metro employees and users, can this be fixed?

The announcement of the resignation of John Catoe as Metro General Manager should come as no shock to readers of this website. Metro's many blunders and cover-ups have been the subject of reporting here and elsewhere.

Will the resignation make the slightest difference?

The answer to this question is difficult to predict.

On the one hand, Catoe has been the public face of Metro in the aftermath of the June 22, 2009 Fort Totten Metro crash and his departure might enable Metro to go to confession and purge itself of prior safety sins.

On the other, Catoe was not responsible for years of inadequate funding devoted to the nation's second busiest subway system.

The Obama administration has advocated taking federal control of safety issues associated with light rail and subway systems nationwide and perhaps this approach will make the United States Congress more fiscally supportive on a long-term basis of our Metro system.

Another wild-card is of course Metro's unwillingness to admit to past mistakes beacuase of their evidentiary value in the Fort Totten crash litigation. This information was extensively revealed in the Washington POst where it was reported that more than 100 safety problems had been identified across a five year period and yet remained unfixed.

Perhaps, the impending hearings on February 23 and 24, 2010 at the National Transportation Safety Board will serve as a mechanism to help Metro get past old problems but unless it means a consistent funding source and good oversight, it is hard to imagine the problems being fixed.

Here is wishing Mr. Catoe better luck elsewhere and Metro good luck finding a new general manager who can step up to the plate and take Metro forward to a safer, more transparent future.