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T&I Republican Leaders Ask Amtrak to Justify Six-Figure Executive Bonuses Amid Dismal Performance

Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) have directed Amtrak’s Chairman of the Board to justify Amtrak’s practice of awarding six-figure bonuses to its top executives, offset by significant amounts of taxpayer funding, despite the company experiencing historic financial and ridership losses.

In their letter to Amtrak Chairman of the Board Anthony R. Coscia, the Members noted that, despite the fact that Amtrak lost $789.1 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and $1.03 billion in FY 2021, and ridership fell by nearly 63 percent between FY 2019 and FY 2021, Amtrak’s top executives still received annual bonuses of more than $200,000 each in 2021.

The Members wrote: “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.  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.”

Lawmakers aren’t the only ones questioning the bonus payments.  Transportation Workers Union International President John Samuelsen said in a recently reported statement that “[t]his isn’t just an affront to Amtrack workers – every tax paying American should be livid.”  

Amtrak performance, by various measurements, continues to struggle post-pandemic.  Between FY2019 and FY 2021, Amtrak’s total revenues declined by nearly 41 percent, and its net income losses increased by nearly 124 percent.  Amtrak estimates that it will lose at least $1 billion annually over the next five years, which will be heavily covered by taxpayer-funded appropriations.  Amtrak’s President and CEO recently testified before the Committee that Amtrak will never turn a profit. 

Furthermore, Amtrak’s customer satisfaction remains below pre-pandemic levels.  The Members cited reports that intercity commuter trips have gotten more difficult, expensive, and harder to justify on a time and cost-effectiveness basis.  They also noted customer complaints related to long distance services, with many customers facing cancellations or down-graded accommodations on trips booked months in advance.

The Members directed Amtrak to provide a briefing about how performance bonuses are determined and provided.  Read their full letter to Amtrak here.

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