By Graham Rapier, Business Insider

The New York Subway has been in a state of emergency for more than a year.

Almost every rush hour, train service is snarled by finicky, 100-year old signals, causing dangerously crowded platforms and angering commuters. Above ground, things aren't much better: you could easily out-walk the average speed of a bus in Gotham.

Some of that might soon change, if the six companies chosen by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for a first-of-its-kind tech accelerator the agency has dubbed the "transit tech lab," are successful at the two challenges set out for them — but it won't be easy.

Over the next eight weeks, the startups will work alongside the MTA to find solutions to overcrowded platforms and ineffective bus lanes. The program's executive director, Rachel Haot, spoke exclusively to Business Insider about the accelerator, and how it could help the agency make up for some of its past technology struggles.

"This creates an opportunity for the MTA to approach long-standing challenges through a fresh lens, to attract new solutions to those problems, to expand the types of vendors that they would typically work with, and to accelerate the pace of testing and evaluating these new technologies," Haot, who previously served as the state's chief digital officer, said.

The six companies are a diverse group of startups, with specialties ranging from computer vision and artificial intelligence, to automated license plate recognition and bus maintenance monitoring.

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