Metro General Manager Richard Sarles’s $350,000 salary isn’t a surprise. Sarles signed a three-year contract that established his annual salary last year, but it makes him one of the highest-paid executives running a major U.S. transit agency. Sarles falls short of being a 1-percenter, but his Metro salary ranks in the top 5 percent of median household incomes in the Washington region.
(DATA: Top salaries at Metro in 2011)
Metro is the No. 2 rail system in the country, based on the number of passenger trips on an average weekday — about 961,000. Sarles earned more than his counterpart in New York. That system provides more than eight times the number of trips, but its chairman and chief executive has an annual salary of $332,500.
The general manager of the Philadelphia rail system, which has about a third as many trips, is paid about $250,000 a year, and the head of Boston’s subway system — about half the size of Metro — will receive $149,129. The executive director of New Jersey Transit, where Sarles retired as chief in 2010, received $261,400 last year, comparable to Sarles’s salary when he left.
Sarles’s top lieutenants receive salaries that stack up well next to some transit chiefs, and all earn well into six figures. According to information obtained under a public records request, the six highest-paid executives on Sarles’s executive team are:
●Dave Kubicek, deputy general manager of operations, who earns $240,000 a year. He also receives an annual $30,000 housing allowance, part of the package he negotiated, according to Metro’s chief spokesman, Dan Stessel.
●Carol Kissal, chief financial officer, who earns $235,000.
●Arthur R. Troup, assistant general manager for infrastructure and engineering services, who earns $190,000.
●James M. Dougherty, chief safety officer, and Kevin J. Borek, assistant general manager of information technology. Each receives $185,000 annually.
●●John P. Requa, assistant general manager of bus services, who earns $184,000.
According to census figures, the median household income for the Washington region is about $85,000 per year.
Stessel said the executives’ salaries are based on the pay of jobs in the public sector and “benchmarks of other large transit systems.” The top executives also receive medical and dental benefits, plus a deferred 457 compensation plan.
Sarles, who has 40 years of transit experience, including a stint at Amtrak, was brought in to turn around the 11,000-employee transit authority after the deadly 2009 crash on the Red Line. An engineer by training, he became interim head in March 2010 and was named chief executive in January 2011. Sarles’s predecessor, John B. Catoe Jr., who resigned two years ago, received a salary of $315,000 a year, plus a $60,000 annual housing allowance. Sarles also draws a pension of about $3,200 a month from his former job at NJ Transit.