New York Regional Transportation Agencies Launch Tech Competition to Enhance Customer Experience, Resiliency and Curb Management
January 8, 2024
Applications open for Transit Tech Lab’s challenges with MTA, Port Authority, NJ TRANSIT and NYC DOT
Today the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Partnership for New York City launched the sixth annual Transit Tech Lab competition, which this year is calling for tech-driven approaches to support the agencies’ objectives in customer experience, resiliency and curb management.
Applications for the Customer Experience, Resilience, and Curb Activity challenges are now open until Wednesday, February 28, and interested early and growth stage companies can submit their proposals at: transitinnovation.org/lab.
Representatives from each participating agency will evaluate applications based on the technology’s impact and the applicant’s product, team, and overall value proposition. Finalists will advance to conduct a proof-of-concept over an eight-week period; the companies demonstrating the most compelling technologies that align with the agencies' objectives have the opportunity to secure a yearlong pilot. To date, 21 companies have been selected to participate in yearlong pilots, conducting deeper tests to demonstrate the real-world value of their technology to agency partners.
Customer Experience Challenge: How can we improve customer experience by better communicating service changes, reducing delays, and augment safety and cleanliness initiatives?
Technologies may include:
Tools, including gamification, to encourage paid ridership.
Improved methods for customer-facing communication to convey schedule diversions, delays, alternative transit options, and onboard train announcements.
Tools to improve processing of customer feedback, including processes to manage internal response and more timely communications back to customers.
Predictive analytical tools to estimate average outage time for common delays.
Tools to detect, prioritize, and maintain safety and cleanliness in stations and vehicles.
Improved tools to facilitate paratransit operations including improving the processing and evaluation of paper-based eligibility requests and improving communication of issues relevant to paratransit customers.
Tools to help commuter rail lines understand passenger flows and predict customer travel patterns flows to better optimize schedules.
Tools to optimize work in the right of way via improving planning, coordinating outages, managing equipment, and prioritizing flagging resources.
Augmented reality/virtual reality technologies to digitize safety, operations, maintenance, and construction training.
Resilience Challenge: How can we build a more resilient and adaptive transit system?
Technologies may include:
Technologies to predict which transit assets across the system may be at risk from extreme weather and other climate change-related events.
Tools to help mitigate climate-related vulnerabilities across the system.
Tools to enhance stormwater resilience of the system including tools to prevent water intrusion and expedite water removal.
Technologies to augment manual surveying and inspection work on aging infrastructure (especially right of way and retaining walls).
Electrification tools to enable more dynamic charging and EV fleet management.
Tools to optimize battery-electric bus charging operations.
Tools to power resiliency at bus depots including the use of microgrids and renewable battery charging.
“Green” construction materials.
NYCDOT’s Curb Activity Challenge: How can we maximize the city’s curb space to serve the multiple and varied needs of New Yorkers?
Technologies may include:
Tools to support efficient and orderly use of curb space for non-car uses, such as cargo bikes, micromobility devices.
Tools to enable use of curb space for recreation or commerce (e.g. street seats).
Tools that support using curb space to improve pedestrian safety (such as new ways to protect daylighted intersections).
Tools to prevent unauthorized use of curb space (e.g. retractable bollards).
Tools to more effectively communicate allowable curb uses (new markings or signage types, but which take into account maintenance issues).
Tools to monitor curb usage of various vehicle types (trucks, buses, bikes, etc.).
The Curb Activity challenge aims to help DOT implement the Curb Management Action Plan and enable better decision making and regulations. NYC DOT is taking a “blank slate” approach and calling for scalable technology to provide data that helps DOT better understand curb inventory: what regulations, restrictions and features are where, and/or curb activity: who is using the curb in what way.
Stacey Matlen, Vice President of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City, said, “A thriving public transit system means a thriving New York, and that’s why we are so excited to help put innovative technologies to work to improve the rider experience. We are looking forward to yet another year of impactful collaboration between transit agencies and tech innovators, who will be working together once again to help ensure our public transportation can quickly adapt and respond to twenty-first century challenges.”
Jessica Mathew, Senior Advisor for Special Projects at MTA, said “The Transit Tech Lab continues to be a significant incubator of innovative solutions for the most pressing transportation challenges the MTA and other regional transportation agencies face. We look forward to seeing the next set of proposed technologies that will strengthen the MTA’s ongoing resiliency efforts and further the Authority’s mission to improve the customer experience for transit riders.”
“Our curb space is the city’s hottest commodity. But it’s clear our current uses no longer reflect New Yorkers’ needs,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “With increases in cycling, e-commerce and outdoor dining, we’re leveraging the tech community to help us optimize our streets and sidewalks and better serve these growing demands.”
“We need to reimagine our curb space to ensure it meets the demands of a 21st Century city. Better managing our curb space can make our streets safer and more vibrant, improving delivery access, outdoor dining, short-term parking, and sustainable transportation options," said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. "We look forward to exploring new technologies and innovative approaches as part of our Curb Management Action Plan and the newest Transit Tech Lab competition.”
Lookman Fazal, Chief Information and Digital Officer of NJ TRANSIT, said, “New Jersey’s Innovation economy gave birth to the world’s first transistors, and invented many of the technologies that power so much opportunity in today’s mobility ecosystem. In this nationally important moment for public transportation, NJ TRANSIT recognizes the immense power that ‘innovation in mobility’ has to deliver a stronger, fairer New Jersey, and looks forward to our continued partnership with the Transit Tech Lab to connect us with firms that are developing creative solutions to key components of our operations.”
Rob Galvin, Chief Technology Officer of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said, “We’ve seen transportation technology and innovation developing at a breakneck pace in recent years, and it’s critical that we learn how to harness these advancements as a public agency, for the public good. The Transit Tech Lab has been an ideal partner for that effort, connecting us with companies that open a new world of possibilities as we look to enhance our operations, customer service, and environmental sustainability efforts across our diverse portfolio of properties. We’re looking to infuse innovative, creative thinking into every department within the Port Authority, especially as we embark on several major redevelopment and modernization projects across New York and New Jersey. The Transit Tech Lab, along with the cutting-edge ideas it brings forward, continues to be a vital resource in helping us achieve that goal.”
This is the sixth challenge cycle for the Transit Tech Lab, a process that has yielded substantial success in advancing technological innovation at New York-area transit agencies. Since 2018, the Lab has fielded over 750 applicants, tested 51 technologies, and facilitated 8 commercial engagements.
About the Transit Tech Lab
The Transit Tech Lab, co-founded by the MTA and the Partnership Fund for New York City to make New York the global leader in public transit, provides a pathway for growth-stage companies to efficiently solve public transportation challenges. Winners of previous competitions include Remix, a collaborative digital platform used to redesign the bus routes, Axon Vibe, which built the Essential Connector smartphone app to help essential workers plan journeys during overnight subway disinfection closures, and Navilens, which enables visually impaired and limited English proficiency New Yorkers to better navigate the subway and bus systems.