It’s no secret that money for transit is tight. We see evidence of funding challenges in our region's deteriorating train tracks and stations and in the limited transit service in many city and suburban communities.
It’s clear that to achieve a world-class transit system that can accommodate growing ridership and a growing economy, we need ambitious plans -- but ambitious plans will require better funding. At our upcoming summit on Feb. 25, civic leaders will present ideas on how we can better invest in making Chicagoland transit truly world class. Read the full summit program (and be sure to register by Feb. 20).
The Funding Matters panel will feature Randy Blankenhorn, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning ; Kevin DeGood, deputy policy director of Transportation for America ; and Peter Skosey, vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council . It will be moderated by Jacky Grimshaw, vice president of policy at the Center for Neighborhood Technology. 
In 2013, the Regional Transportation Authority  budget anticipates that it will cost $2.729 billion  to operate the transit services of CTA, Metra and Pace for the year. In addition to those operating costs, capital investment is needed to maintain and grow the system.
But with funding from federal, state and local sources falling short of even maintaining a state of good repair and operating robust service, how can we aspire to a 21st Century transit system without better funding? CTA, for example, explains  that even if its entire capital backlog was funded and the system was already in a state of good repair, its funding would fall far short of what's needed to maintain that condition.
CTA would need $844 million annually just to keep the system in a state of good repair, but the average capital funding level over the next 5 years is only $559 million. How can we not only get the system in a state of good repair and close that $285 million gap to keep it that way, but also fund much-needed improvements and expansions in transit service?
In 2010, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning published the Go To 2040  regional plan with wide support across the Chicago region, outlining several funding options that have yet to be implemented. Last year, Congress passed MAP 21 , a new federal transportation bill that includes tools to finance public transportation projects. Additionally, civic leaders are suggesting we explore other innovative funding techniques such as public private partnerships, value capture  and changes in our gas or sales tax structure. How much promise do these funding options hold and how do we move them forward?
Join Riders for Better Transit on Feb. 25 for a summit on Building a 21st Century Transit System: a discussion of public transportation’s future, funding and governance in Chicagoland.
REGISTER BY FEB. 20! 
February 25, 2013
8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
UBS Tower Conference Center, 1 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL
Registration: $25, or $15 for Active Transportation Alliance members/donors. Includes continental breakfast with coffee.
Visit www.activetrans.org/TransitSummit2013  for the full program and to register!
AICP CM credits pending