Amtrak Management Team Is Tone Deaf!

Why is it that intelligent people do dumb things? Speaking for myself, I can think of several instances over the years when in the heat of a political campaign I’ve said something dumb and inappropriate. Everybody does it once in a while and, when it happens, you have a sinking feeling almost immediately because you know you’ve made an inappropriate comment and you can’t take it back. Worse, your critics will use it to pummel you in the media.

I thought about that the other day when I read a story about Amtrak that made me want to run screaming into the night.

The New York Times reported—

Amtrak’s CEO Stephen Gardner received more than $760,000 in bonuses over the past two years. Other Amtrak executives have also been given handsome bonuses . . . although none as handsome as Gardner’s.

By the way, the Times had to employ the Freedom of Information Act to document that in 2021 substantial bonuses had been paid to Amtrak’s top management team. . . . “substantial” being defined as “more than $200,000.” 

But these bonuses, apparently given for job performance, were awarded at a time when ridership was way down because of the pandemic, and because more than 2,000 Amtrak employees had been furloughed or urged to take a severance package.

For weeks now, long-distance trains have been running many hours late or cancelled altogether because—you already know why—because of a lack of on-board crews.

So I raise my hand to ask a question:

What in God’s name were you thinking? 

If you folks are smart enough to run a railroad, you should damn well know that it’s a bad idea to give yourselves big bonuses when trains are running late or being cancelled because of a lack of on-board crews.

Sometimes you guys make it really hard to be an advocate.