A pair of House Republicans are demanding answers about reporting that indicates executives at Amtrak have been paid six-figure bonuses even as the transportation company is mired in red ink while taking in billions of dollars in taxpayer funding.
Reps. Rick Crawford (R-AR), ranking member of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, and Sam Graves (R-MO), ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wrote to Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia on Thursday outlining their concerns and requesting information.
Why is Amtrak, which is heavily subsidized by our tax dollars, doling out 6-figure bonuses to top executives while they’re losing money and riders like never before? @RepRickCrawford and I are demanding answers. https://t.co/VW49Zilaob
— Rep. Sam Graves (@RepSamGraves) November 3, 2022
Their letter described the “lavish executive bonuses” as “inappropriate, wasteful, and disrespectful” to taxpayers and rank-and-file employees of Amtrak. It pointed out that the company’s “services and revenues remain below pre-pandemic levels,” indicating the likelihood that its financial losses have become permanent.
The lawmakers also cited the $66 billion in guaranteed funding courtesy of taxpayers the company received after the enactment of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). They noted those funds were intended to improve Amtrak’s system rather than paying for “needless expansions or excessive executive rewards.”
Amtrak paid bonuses last year that averaged more than $200,000 per executive. Those payments represented more than half of the total salaries for those corporate leaders. The company has defended the bonuses as being tied to successful performance.
However, the company’s financial reports show that it lost $789 million in operations for fiscal year 2020. In fiscal year 2021, operating losses grew to $1.03 billion. Those losses were defrayed by around $3.7 billion in taxpayer funds granted by Congress as “COVID relief.”
The GOP letter pointed out that Amtrak CEO Stephen Garner confirmed the company’s operating losses for the last fiscal year are at least $910 million and admitted that he now believes the company “will never achieve profit.”
Garner received a bonus of $261,000 last year.
The largest bonus paid out last year appears to have gone to William Herrmann, Amtrak vice president and senior managing deputy general counsel. His bonus check exceeded $300,000.
Transportation Workers Union International president John Samuelsen told reporters that 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” took in the exorbitant bonuses. He added, “Every tax-paying American should be livid.”