SAN CARLOS (AP) — Caltrain’s chief executive is the highest-paid transit boss in California, while the rail line said it is struggling to stay financially afloat.

Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon, who also oversees SamTrans and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, makes more than $400,000 a year — 59 percent more than the median CEO salary among the state’s 23 largest transit operators, according to a Bay Area News Group review of salaries recorded by the State Controller’s Office.

Scanlon’s salary of $400,668 was significantly higher than that of Bay Area Rapid Transit General Manager Dorothy Dugger, the transit boss with the state’s second-highest salary who makes $354,010 a year, the Bay Area News Group reported. BART, however, has four times the staff and ridership of Scanlon’s agency.

The latest salary figures were released as Caltrain has proposed shutting down as much as half of its 32 stations, raising fares and cutting service to plug a $30 million deficit.

SamTrans, which runs bus service throughout San Mateo County, also has recently cut bus routes and increased fares, citing a serious budget crunch.

Scanlon declined to comment on his compensation.

Caltrain board president Sean Elsbernd defended Scanlon’s salary, pointing out that Caltrain has lower overall administrative costs than other transit agencies. He also said Scanlon, who has worked in the industry for 44 years, is the right person to lead the agency.

“Mike is straightforward, to the point, highly intelligent and a man of integrity,” Elsbernd told the Bay Area News Group. “You can’t ask for much more.”

Other board members cited Scanlon’s accomplishments since taking over in 1999, such as implementing the popular Baby Bullet service. He also was recently named chairman of the committee that oversees the American Public Transportation Association.

“No doubt his performance was considered outstanding, and we did not want to lose him,” said Jim Hartnett, a former Caltrain and SamTrans board chairman who helped set Scanlon’s compensation.

(© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (10)
  1. WhottaJokeCalTrainYouFunny says:

    well if he’s so dang good at his job –
    why is CalTrain cutting, no – SLASHING service to the degree it is?


  2. Diane H says:

    He must be getting paid for the great job, he is not doing. Are we ever going to learn?

  3. Bob D. says:

    Don’t forget his yearly bonus, and also the housing allowance he is given.

  4. JR says:

    If my company was losing that much money, CEO or not they would fire me. His performance is so outstanding that is why they are doing so good, right?

  5. Brian Wilfley says:

    Your report on the salary of Caltrain’s Executive Director Scanlon grossly misrepresented the facts. Caltrain’s share of total compensation including pay and benefits to Mr. Scanlon is $85,647. For that, Caltrain get’s a world-class transit CEO.

    The Bay Area News Group has apparently chosen to ignore these facts. You apparently choose not to verify what you put on the air.

  6. Denise A says:

    WE need an Egyptian kind of revolution. No one, no one deserves these outrageous salaries. What the hell do people do with all that money while others are practically starving. Cutting service does not a great CEO make.

  7. jon says:

    All you moron commenters ever consider the unemployment in the Bay Area has caused a huge drop in all public transit ridership? Is that the CEO’S fault, who was hired years ago and was apparently doing a fine job then? God, u people are such simpletons, laying blame blindly on anyone

  8. Greg says:

    Obscene that a public transportation CEO is paid at almost same level as Presdent of the United States.