• Amtrak Executive Compensation- "Quite The Fruck Fruck"

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Gilbert B Norman
The Times has reported upon the "story" of compensation paid to the Amtrak C-Suite as bonuses. Other media sources, such as TRAINS Newswire have or will surely report on this story - if it can even be considered as one.

Fair Use:
Amtrak’s top executives received six-figure incentive bonuses in 2021, their biggest payouts in years, despite the service’s lackluster financial performance and weak ridership caused by the pandemic, according to data obtained by The New York Times.

The compensation data, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showed that annual incentive payouts made to Amtrak’s senior leaders have grown significantly in recent years. Nine top executives received bonuses exceeding $200,000 in the 2021 fiscal year, up from six executives in 2019. Far smaller bonuses were awarded in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and none were given in 2015 or 2020.
I have learned that several discussion sites more oriented towards "advocacy" matters are "up in arms" from this disclosure.
  by eolesen
Never a fun topic, but like it or not, variable executive compensation is contractual, and not considered "bonuses" granted by the BOD. That doesn't stop the media from reporting it as a bonus, but it's a clear and separate issue.

I don't what the percentage of guaranteed vs. incentive/variable compensation is for Amtrak, but it's not uncommon for it to be anywhere from 10% to 50% at the middle-upper management level, and 10% to 500% for executives.

Speaking only from my airline experience, incentive compensation targets aren't triggered by meeting profitability targets alone. They also included meeting operational reliability targets or customer satisfaction metrics, so it's entirely possible that Amtrak's variable comp target triggers could be met despite Amtrak being a financial disaster.

(on edit after seeing the NYT article link, that seems to be the case -- non-financial targets were met)
  by Vincent
Qiana Spain, Amtrak’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer, said in a statement that the incentive payments were aimed at helping the rail service “attract and retain talent.”
This is what it comes down to: has Amtrak attracted and retained talent? I haven't been surveyed about my customer experiences in the last year. If I had been asked, my answers likely would have shaved a few dollars off the execs' payouts this year.

I doubt we will ever see the metrics for receiving the payments, but it's fair to wonder if the standards are ambitious and challenging. Or is Amtrak paying out millions of dollars for performances that shouldn't be given anything more than a participation ribbon?
  by Matt Johnson
Has Amtrak gotten better since I took my cross country Amtrak trip in 2013? On the whole, certainly not. Back then I enjoyed full amenities on what was a smooth, on-time trip aboard Capitol Limited, Southwest Chief, Coast Starlight (with Pacific Parlour), Empire Builder, and Capitol back to the east. Dining car service was generally excellent, and who knows if we'll ever get it back in the east.

Sure, some improvements have occurred on a more local level (Virginia service extensions, new Vermont service, new Siemens rolling stock finally appearing), but the national network is not in as good a state as it was. I'm not sure how long Covid can be an excuse, but I am getting over a case of Covid myself that I can't quite shake after more than a week so it's certainly still with us. (Two Moderna shots and a Pfizer booster couldn't save me from this BA.5 variant surge.) But clearly Amtrak is struggling just to run all of its trains, let alone run them as well as it did just a few short years ago.