Take this job description and see what you think would be a reasonable wage for this position:
You are in charge of a company that takes in millions of dollars and provides a service across a large area. You are in charge of dozens if not hundreds of employees many of which will dislike you not matter how good of a leader you are.
You are also responsible for large budget and have to balance the amount of service you can provide with the amount of dollars you have. You will also answer to politicians many of them having no clue about what your service is but of course want to look good to the people that paid for their office and have to walk a fine line between keeping them happy and doing the right thing.
Finally, you will have a vocal minority that will attack you no matter what you do because you are not providing them service to their front door, your budget doesn't have enough funds. They will hate you, post on blogs, blog on newspaper articles, and demonize you at every chance.
Sounds like heaven doesn't it?
Most people will probably already figure out that I am talking about the head of a transit agency. It really doesn't matter which transit agency because it is true for most of them. Some have a bigger problem in one area than the other but in general its a pretty thankless job.
First of all, would you want this position and how much would be willing, or how little would you be willing to take in order to have the job?
Now lets to a little more comparison. If this was private sector job how much will you be getting paid. Now everyone has heard about those overprice CEO's that are just raking in the money. However, most CEO's do are not the ones you hear about all the time. They run small to medium sized businesses that deal with the same number of employees and budget as the typical transit agency.
Some of these CEO's are better than others. After all their humans and have their own sets of good points and bad points. However, for the most part if they get to this level they do it because of hard work and dedication. Yes some of them get there because of nepotism but they are the minority and usually have issues unless they too have worked up through the ranks.
The problem is, for the position of head of a transit agency you want the best and the brightest. You need the person that cannot only handled the budget, surround themselves with people that can get things done, and deal with all the other distractions the CEO of a private company may not have to deal with.
Why should someone take this position when they can go to the private sector, make more money and probably deal with less BS from the outside than running a transit agency.
So how much should a transit agency head be paid?