Transportation Policy

Good Enough for Government Work: D.C. Metro Chief's Spotty Record Rewarded With New Contract

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Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Area Transit Authority fired Metro bus driver Carla A. Proctor this week after Proctor struck a jogger earlier this month. The jogger was just released from intensive care at a local hospital.

It's good to know nearly killing someone was—finally—enough to get Proctor out from behind the wheel of a public bus. Her record to that point:

• Proctor had five off-the-job traffic tickets in January alone, including driving an unregistered, unlicensed vehicle.

• In 2003, Proctor got off a bus she had been driving to check a sticky door without first assuring the bus was parked. The bus rolled down a hill without her, damaging eight vehicles, including the bus. Metro paid out $27,000 in damages.

• Also in 2003, Proctor turned into oncoming traffic, at which point her car was struck by another vehicle. Proctor's car went flying into a fast food restaurant, injuring two women.

• In 2004, Proctor crashed another Metro bus, this time into a parked vehicle, injuring a 72-year-old pasenger.

Given the impressive record of the Metro workers union in helping scofflaws avoid discipline, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see Proctor back on the job.

Back in 2007, D.C. Metro General Manager John B. Catoe, Jr. promised new scrutiny for Metro bus drivers after Metro had five pedestrian fatalities from 2003 to 2006, and three more early in 2007 (New York City, by contrast, had just one bus v. pedestrian fatality over that period). The Washington Post wrote at the time:

[Catoe] said he will begin to monitor drivers—knowing when they are stopped for speeding, drunken driving and other violations while on duty—by coordinating with the motor vehicle departments of Maryland, Virginia and the District. Although many transit agencies already do this, Metro supervisors have no way of knowing whether operators have broken the law unless drivers tell them or the violations are caught on police cameras.

Despite the Proctor fiasco, recent stories about Metro bus drivers chatting on cell phones while driving, Metro train operators opening doors on the wrong side (a potentially fatal mistake), and of course the disastrous Red Line crash in June that killed nine people, Metro's board of directors voted 5-1 yesterday to grant Catoe a new three-year contract.

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  1. If you are ever in Washington stay the fuck out of the way of buses. Their drivers are heavily unionized and frankly don’t care if they run you down.

  2. The solution to this is privatizing the bus lines.

  3. If chatting on cell phones were their only transgression, we should be so lucky.

  4. As a runner, rule number one, two, and three, are stay as far from public transit vehicles as possible, stay as far from public transit vehicles as possible, and stay as far from public transit vehicles as possible.

  5. In 2003, Proctor got off a bus she had been driving to check a sticky door without first assuring the bus was parked. The bus rolled down a hill without her, damaging eight vehicles, including the bus. Metro paid out $27,000 in damages.

    Clearly at this point she was kept on because her supervisors wanted to see what she’d come up with next.

  6. MNG, please defend the union here. Please.

  7. New York City, by contrast, had just one bus v. pedestrian fatality over that period

    Amazingly, in my experience, NYC bus drivers are pretty good at driving their buses. I call it the “Ralph Kramden Effect”.

  8. Moneyquote:

    Catoe will continue to receive a salary of $315,000 a year and a $60,000-a-year housing allowance. In addition, he will receive an annual $6,000 executive medical and wellness allowance for costs not covered by health insurance. When he retires, he will receive $27,000 a year from an annuity.

    Man, if all you have to do to get that kind of pay is be incompetent and get innocent people killed, I’m moving to D.C..

  9. Sounds to me like Mr. Catoe is receiving the experience necessary for his next promotion: czar of the Obamacare Death Panels.

  10. “Heckuva job, Catoe!”

  11. With that kind of money he could open the Catoe Institute and print a magazine.

  12. Hey, just as a side note, DC’s government has a new billboard up to promote energy efficient energy conversion for homes.

    Where will you see this billboard?

    Well. That question is tough to answer since it is mounted on one of those billboard trucks that drive throughout the city blessing us with its unnecessary emissions.

  13. Don’t worry Carla A. Proctor. You come work for us. We always need drivers, honey. How else you going to get the profoundly demented out of the asylums and into the voting booths?

  14. MNG | September 25, 2009, 2:20pm | #

    Yawn, back to my nap. Wake me up when people start denying global warming or crapping on unions.

    Wake up, mofo!

  15. God, that article is gem-encrusted. Here’s another sparkly bit:

    Gordon Linton, an alternate board member from Maryland, said “naysayers” would have the board fire Catoe in light of the recent bad news.

    “We measure him by his performance — not by the noise or things that have happened on his watch, but by his performance,” Linton said.

    Can someone please, PLEASE explain to me what the difference between those two things is?

  16. METRO busses don’t cause any global warming.

  17. MNG, please defend the union here. Please.

    Clearly, it’s better to let a guilty person go free than to punish an innocent one. These rules are there to protect the innocent drivers from persecution. Due process doesn’t always result in outcomes we’d find favorable, but overall, the good drivers are protected.

  18. Clearly, it’s better to keep an incompetent loser on staff than to hire a comnpetent replacement. Or some such retardedness.

  19. Oh, and he got a standing ovation after the vote. Ayn Rand is spinning in her grave.

  20. “It’s good to know nearly killing someone was-finally-enough to get Proctor out from behind the wheel of a public bus. Her record to that point:”

    Yeah Radley, that’s one way to look at it. Frankly I feel less safe since she won’t be confined to one route the whole day (and surrounding vehicles, pedestrians, etc. in the vicinity)and now she can just turn on to any road, hallway, storefront window, sidewalk that she wishes.

  21. Clearly, it’s better to keep an incompetent loser on staff than to hire a comnpetent replacement. Or some such retardedness.

    The fact is, that the Union makes the transit system about its employees, instead of the public. That’s why all public sector unions should be disbanded and made illegal.

  22. Man, if all you have to do to get that kind of pay is be incompetent and get innocent people killed, I’m moving to D.C.

    You’ll have to get elected first.

  23. There is no question that it is much more lucrative to be in the public sector, and that’s why I just joined the Free Enterprise Nation (http://www.thefreeenterprisenation.org) They get that the people in the private sector are being screwed, and I am ready to help make things fair.

  24. The DC, MD, VA driving trifecta is a debacle from the “Bus Early Green” (where the buses start to go before the light actually truns green, lest they have to actually merge with skill) to the “Virginia No Blink” (switching lanes and/or turning without a signal) to the “East Side Beltway Racetrack” (where 70 MPH is slow no matter what the traffic). I’m suprised I’m alive most of the time. The only things that keep me from Murderous Road Rage are classical music, Tool, and Stand-up comedy (usually Bill Hicks or Mitch Hedberg… hey, its only a 2gb ipod nano)

  25. Bus Early Green

    Sounds like something involving tentacles and extra eyes from a Stross novel.

  26. involving tentacles and extra eyes

    Either a) a beholder

    or b) doesn’t matter, I’m not into hentai.

  27. You’ll have to get elected first.

    Or become a teacher…

  28. The solution to this is privatizing the bus lines.

    Well, many transit programs across the country are technically privatized. They are administered, in one way or another, by private companies. Unfortunately, the government contracts normally require unionized drivers and that the private company behave like a government agency. Real privatization would be good, but that isn’t what the government actually practices.

  29. Proctor had five off-the-job traffic tickets in January alone, including driving an unregistered, unlicensed vehicle.

    Driving an unregistered, unlicensed vehicle certainly is not harming any person or property and should not be grounds for dismissal.

    All the other items, though, certainly should be.

  30. The first hair straightener was invested using chemicals of scalp preparation and lotions to straighten the hair. Years later, heated metal hair care implements such as hot metal combs. Using the metal hair care, the straightener slid easier through the hair, causing less damage and dryness.

  31. It may be nitpicking to point this out, but the “talking on her cell phone” story turned out to be inaccurate. Follow-up reporting (and the internal inquiry) found that the driver was on the phone with Metro to report technical difficulties with her bus, was using her phone because her bus radio wasn’t working, and ended the call before she put the bus back in motion. This was confirmed by other witnesses.

    I think that the general dissatisfaction with Metro and the justifiable outrage over the June crash have naturally led us to be less than critical of stories that fit our pre-determined narratives. This long after the facts have been sorted out and reported, though, we shouldn’t still be pointing to our initial reactions as if they were just as legit.

  32. I would have easily had to miss three days of work if I worked in my old office job. They would not have been impressed (I know from experience!) This week, it was a little hectic, especially Tuesday when I had a project to work on and a clingy BabyBoy, but I got it done by working around him, literally. Yep, he sat in my lap and I worked. Then he napped and I worked HARD!

  33. Look @ almost any “public” employed driver; why would they drive someone’s vehicle any differant than their own? Oh GOD, here comes the PC police! I’ll be arrested before the dumbass wrecking the bus( or train or store). I wouldn’t go to DC on a dare-90% chocolate and 10% nuts.

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  44. I enjoy reading this article.Back in 2007, D.C. Metro General Manager John B. Catoe, Jr. promised new scrutiny for Metro bus drivers after Metro had five pedestrian fatalities from 2003 to 2006, and three more early in 2007 (New York City, by contrast, had just one bus v. pedestrian fatality over that period).

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