Two House lawmakers are demanding answers from Amtrak’s board of directors after a Post report revealed the 10 highest-paid executives at the company were awarded six-figure bonuses — even as the rail network hemorrhaged money.
Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in a letter to board chairman Anthony Coscia sent Wednesday, said the extravagant rewards — “paid largely from taxpayer funds” — were an affront to everyday Amtrak employees.
“Payment of lavish executive bonuses when Amtrak services and revenues remain below pre-pandemic levels, and financial losses appear permanent, seem inappropriate, wasteful, and disrespectful to Amtrak’s nonexecutive, front-line employees and taxpayers,” states the letter.
Republican Reps. Rick Crawford of Arkansas and Sam Graves of Missouri, who signed the letter, noted the bonuses were doled out at a time of turmoil at the rail line, which they said had adjusted operating earnings of negative $789 million in 2020 and negative $1.03 billion in 2021.
They requested the board provide them with answers to five questions, including the metrics on which performance bonuses are based; how those compare with similar firms heavily financed by the federal government; and the board’s role in determining bonuses.
“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 congressmen wrote.
The letter came weeks after a Post report that showed the top-10 Amtrak earners in 2021 raked in six-figure bonuses that, in one instance, nearly doubled a top executive’s annual salary. The New York Times first reported on the extravagant compensation packages.
Data received by The Post through a Freedom of Information Act request showed the 10 top earners at the rail line padded their “gross income” in the year 2021 with eye-popping “earned incentive” bonuses.
According to the figures, William Herrmann, the rail line’s vice president and senior managing deputy general counsel, appears to have cashed in the largest earned incentive bonus in 2021.
Herrmann had a base salary of $352,898, but took home a whopping $653,879.74, according to the figures. His additional pay of more than $300,000 represents about 85% of his base salary.
In a statement at the time, an Amtrak spokesperson said earned incentive bonuses are common in the transportation industry and are widely used in the private sector, where executives are compensated at a higher rate.
“To earn incentives, Amtrak must achieve a high level of corporate performance in support of our company’s strategic plan — and employees must also meet their individual performance goals,” the spokesperson said.
This article originally appeared on New York Post