As local politicians await word from the federal government on funding for the downtown light rail tunnel, transit officials from across the country have gathered in Ottawa to discuss the next 30 years of trains and buses in cities.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association is holding its annual conference with the theme Vision 2040, which is about maximizing the contribution public transit makes to the quality of life in urban areas.

To do that, politicians need to understand the benefits that public transit can offer to a city, said CUTA chair Charles Stolte.

“We need the support from our local politicians,” said Stolte. “We need funding from different levels of government, federal and provincial.”

Funding transit is something that Ottawa politicians understand, said Mayor Larry O’Brien. He pointed to the city’s new rapid transit network that is still waiting for the federal government to commit its share of the $2.1-billion cost of the first phase.

“By 2031, our system will run out of any capacity to serve our community, so we made the very bold decision to make — to invest — in a tunnel through the core of the city,” said O’Brien.

An announcement from the federal government is forthcoming, said Bay Ward Coun. Alex Cullen.

“It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “We think the federal government is beginning to get it.

Unfortunately, it took a recession for them to see the value of making that investment.

“We’re going long-term and that’s why you see Vision 2040 for all of public transit in Canada and we hope the federal government will acknowledge that.”