You owe us $400 million and transit will suffer if it's not paid is the gist of a Regional Transportation Authority letter to Gov. Pat Quinn and state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
The letter sent Wednesday warns that if the state doesn't pony up within 30 days, funding for Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority will start to dry up with dire consequences.
"This diversion of money from the transit agencies will drain money from day-to-day operations and, as a result, could force service cutbacks that will dramatically impact over 2 million daily riders and 15,000 employees," RTA Deputy Executive Director Jordan Matyas wrote. "We need approximately $40 million a month that is due from the state to keep the transit system operating efficiently and to ensure that service cuts and job losses are avoided."
The crisis is not new to public transit. With the state's ongoing fiscal shortfalls, the RTA has written similar ultimatums in the past. Usually, some funding has trickled into the RTA to avert service cutbacks.
One Band-Aid solution has been for the RTA to borrow money to cover the revenue gap, but that avenue is no longer available.
"The RTA has now exhausted our statutory borrowing authority," Matyas wrote.
RTA directors meet today.