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Today, the need for public transportation is more urgent than ever because it is emerging as the only sustainable solution in meeting urban mobility demands and overcoming the known economic, social, and environmental problems of congestion and pollution in cities. While there are plenty of reasons for an informed commuter to select public transport over other modal choices, the economic downturn in the US has played a major role in increasing the ridership levels of its public transport systems to record highs. It is also evident in the current fiscal crisis that the financing of public transport systems (operating expenses and capital expenditure) can no longer be covered by the income from subsidies and fares alone.

US transit agencies and operators face the challenge of maintaining a huge transit asset portfolio that needs to be renewed, modernised and rehabilitated, that is, maintained in a state of good repair (SOGR), to provide world-class customer service with increased expectations regarding security and environmental sustainability. Initiatives such as the New and Small Starts Program present huge investment and business opportunities for the industry. In addition, SOGR, a basic investment need, creates opportunities for the industry to offer a variety of solutions such as technology applications to generate revenues and improve operational efficiency, public-private partnerships for infrastructure development, financing and maintenance mechanisms to lower costs, new cash management techniques for higher returns, joint development of real estate, and use of transit real estate to promote transit-oriented development.

The aim of this workshop is to provide insight into funding solutions for public transportation infrastructure. The objective is to present a frame of reference for decision-makers to select the financial structure for their public transportation system that best meets their city's unique requirements.

Organising new sources of funding may require major institutional reforms, legislative or even constitutional changes. The workshop focuses on international best practices with the view that since we live in a globalised world, it is only prudent to gain exposure to and benefit from international experiences. Many issues are the same in cities all over the world and so it becomes all the more important to pool our knowledge and share expertise. Solutions are never transposable "as-is"; however, implementing even some of the proven measures, with an understanding of the specific context, may lead to innovations, producing remarkable results.