The Washington metropolitan area has arguably one of the most tuned in riderships in the country.
“[Our riders are] very tuned in to the system,” Catoe says.
“Actually you know many times it’s amazing, I would come here and I would go out to a restaurant and listen to people who were talking and they would say they got here by Metro. Or they would say ‘where did you move to, over by the Potomac Metro station.’ Metro has become a place that defines where you live and how you arrive at a location.
“And so I think the two things that the Washington area loves are Redskins and Metro. And they’re disappointed at times with both. And they let you know when they are.”
Catoe has definite plans for the future of WMATA. He is like the successful kid who has come back to his hometown to do what he can there to make it a better place he know it could be. So what’s the most difficult part of the job for this hometown kid? Not taking the agency’s criticism personally.
“Every morning when my phone starts buzzing I know it’s something wrong on the rail system. And when I read that we off-loaded our customers because of a door problem or some other problem, I personally feel … I don’t mentally say, well that happens, I take it very personally. It worries me.
So I push that issue tremendously with our operations people,” Catoe admits.
“And I’m not going to be happy that our customers tell us we’re the No. 1 transit system and that the quality of service we provide is second to none.
“I’ve set [the] objective for our organization [that] in three years I want us to win the APTA award, not because I just want an APTA award to sit on my desk, but I want that to be the challenge for this organization. That quality has improved to that point.”