Two GOP lawmakers are looking for answers after a recent report regarding Amtrak executives receiving six-figure bonuses despite the company losing money and receiving billions in taxpayer-funded support.
Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) sent a letter to Amtrak’s Chairman Anthony Coscia on Thursday to address the concerning information.
“Payment of lavish executive bonuses when Amtrak services and revenues remain below pre-pandemic levels, and financial losses appear permanent, seems inappropriate, wasteful and disrespectful to Amtrak’s nonexecutive front-line employees and taxpayers,” the Republican lawmakers wrote.
“These concerns are only exacerbated by the $66 billion in guaranteed funding Amtrak received as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which should be spent on improving the existing system rather than needless expansions or excessive executive rewards,” they added.
Last year, Amtrak’s bonuses of more than $200,000 per executive represented more than 50% of the salaries of the company’s leaders, according to the lawmakers. Amtrak claims the bonuses were due to performance.
An Amtrak report, however, showed that the company’s adjusted operating earnings for fiscal year 2020 were negative $789 million, growing to negative $1.03 billion in fiscal year 2021, as cited in the letter by the lawmakers. Further, the losses were covered by approximately $3.7 billion in taxpayer-funded COVID support.
“Given Amtrak’s struggles are expected to continue indefinitely, we remain concerned about plans for awarding executive bonuses when the company expects billions of dollars in annual future losses,” the GOP leaders added. “Amtrak Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Stephen Gardner—who received a bonus of over $261,000 in 2021—confirmed in September that Amtrak’s recent operating losses are $910 million and that the company will never achieve profit.”
The lawmakers also said that between fiscal years 2019 and 2021, Amtrak’s total revenues declined by nearly 41%, with an income loss of almost 124%.
The letter further noted that Amtrak’s customer satisfaction remains below pre-pandemic levels, including reports that intercity commuter trips have increased in price.
The New York Post recently reported that Amtrak’s top ten earning executives had received large bonuses.
William Herrmann, Amtrak’s vice president senior managing deputy general counsel, appears to have received the largest additional pay that included more than $300,000 in 2021.
The New York Times previously revealed that most of Amtrak’s top executives were given more than $200,000 in bonuses in the last fiscal year, despite declining company profits.
Transportation Workers Union International President John Samuelsen has also questioned Amtrak’s bonuses.
“It is outrageous that while Amtrak’s workforce put their lives on the line to see this carrier through its most trying time yet, bosses who got to work from the comfort of their homes — and who are so wealthy they can decline regular paychecks — walked away with millions in bonuses,” Samuelsen said in a statement, The Post reported.
“This isn’t just an affront to Amtrak workers — every tax paying American should be livid,” it added.