CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Ten months after a Charlotte Area Transit System light rail derailment, Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones says he was informed via text about the derailment the day it happened, but he says he doesn’t remember getting the text.
The city’s top leader says finding the text almost a year later following an investigation into the derailment “troubled” him.
Jones says the way the text was worded as a “minor derailment” either didn’t register with him at the time, or the text was something he totally missed.
The CATS light rail train derailment on May 21, 2022, just came to light publicly several weeks ago after Interim CATS CEO Brent Cagle took the helm.
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Jones says that day of the derailment, he got a text from then-CATS CEO John Lewis.
“FYI, we just had a minor derailment of the Blue line train heading northbound at the Archdale Station, middle set of wheels came off the tracks, 36 people on board, no injuries, we have a bus bridge in place while we investigate.”
Jones says he originally told the city council that he was first told about the derailment this past February when Cagle told him about it, but now realizes that wasn’t the case. He wanted to let people know that he got the text that day but did not remember receiving it until he went back through his texts recently.
Queen City News Anchor Robin Kanady asked Jones:
“There are reports that an employee was disciplined or fired over the incident, so why should you not be disciplined over this?”
“Yes, that would be totally up to the council in terms of how the council addresses this particular situation. For me, one of the things that was important was to talk about it publicly because this was a mistake.”
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Jones also made another announcement Thursday. He’s suspending the search for a permanent CATS CEO for at least six months with Cagle at the helm.
“We have all seen what Brent has been able to do within a very short period of time, and there is a strong level of trust and confidence with Brent,” Jones said. “While we do have good interest in the position, we think that’s it’s better to stabilize CATS over the next six months under Brent’s leadership.”
Jones is also requesting the Federal Transit Agency conduct an off-cycle review of CATS, and he’s referring the oversight of a comprehensive review of CATS to the city’s Transportation, Planning, and Development Committee.