Transit Tech Lab Launches Latest Technology Challenge

New York City’s Transit Tech Lab has opened the application period for its fifth Tech Challenge, focusing on areas such as operational efficiency and human capital.

The Transit Tech Lab is a public-private initiative developed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the New York City Partnership to advance technology to address the challenges facing transportation organizations in the New York City metro area. Improving operations and addressing staffing shortages are two focus areas identified by the program as it launches its next technology challenge.

“We’re really trying to focus on the challenges that transit agencies face. Of course, that means focusing on leadership priorities,” explained Stacey Matlen, vice president of innovation for partnerships in New York City. “But we’re also meeting with staff across departments and levels of transport agencies to understand what the core challenges are and to get more context on specific issues.”

Some areas of focus for improving operational efficiency could include technology to help prevent fare evasion or better manage data. Improvements around internal communications or automated operations, locating buses at stops, or automating track inspections were all identified as areas of maturity.

When considering HR-related technology, it can focus on upskilling employees, recruiting and retaining talent, or speeding up the onboarding process.

Transit agencies in New York City’s subway are no different than “96 percent of agencies in the U.S. that face a talent shortage,” Matteren said.

“It’s also affecting operational efficiency because people are trying to do more with less,” she added.

The Transit Tech Lab “has heard a positive response from companies to the challenge announcement issued on January 1”. 5, said Matron. The application deadline is March 2. Companies interested in learning more can check out the program information session on January 12. 19:00 1:00 PM EST. The event will feature transit agency representatives who will share contacts, resources and other information about the program and answer questions.

The project does not place any restrictions on the number of companies selected. As applications are received, assessors will review each application. Afterwards, the company will conduct a “pitch presentation.”

“From there, each transit agency can select companies to advance the proof of concept,” Matlen said. “And there is no limit to the total number of companies. It really depends on the institutions and whether they have the capacity and whether they are interested in the proposed solution.”

Last year, 10 companies were selected as proof-of-concept finalists to explore technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and video data analysis to better understand the dynamics of traffic and how to improve its efficiency.

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