Transit Tech Lab Releases Results for Human Capital, Operational Efficiency Challenges

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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The New York MTA/Partnership for New York City Transit Tech Lab on Jan. 22 released the results of its 2023 human capital and operational efficiency challenges. The 13 winners, including Humatics, TekTracking and Wi-Tronix, each completed proof-of-concept collaborations with area transit agencies, which aim to use their LiDAR (light detection and ranging), AI (artificial intelligence), and IoT (Internet of Things) technologies “to mitigate service disruptions, automate operations, and combat workforce shortages,” Transit Tech Lab reported.

The challenges solicited nearly 150 worldwide applicants, according to Transit Tech Lab. Select companies completed eight-week proofs of concept with MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority), Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANY/NJ), and New Jersey Transit (NJT). The 13 pilot winners, which were evaluated and chosen by a team of transit and human capital experts, will now move on to deploy their technologies through larger-scale pilot programs, which Transit Tech Lab said would help determine viability and scalability.

The winners are:

Human Capital Challenge

  • eSkill Corporation (North Chelmsford, Mass.): Provides a talent assessment platform, including an online skills testing library and a remote proctoring solution, “to easily evaluate job candidates through a fully configurable online platform.” The company’s partners are MTA and PANY/NJ.
  • Jetdocs (Ontario, Canada): Provides a centralized catalog for users to submit tickets, requests and approvals, “enabling easy standardization of processes to streamline workflows and enhance internal collaboration.” The company’s partner is MTA.
  • PyxAI (Boston, Mass.): Provides a virtual, AI-enabled assessment platform that evaluates and collects data on people skills (e.g., communication, problem solving, adaptability, etc.) “to help organizations identify hidden talent, improve retention rates and future-proof their workforce.” It has teamed with PANY/NJ.

Operational Efficiency Challenge

  • ACCURE Battery Intelligence (U.S. and Germany): Provides a predictive battery analytics platform that uses AI and machine learning “to improve safety, enhance performance, and extend the life of energy storage and Electric Vehicle (EV) assets.” The company has teamed with MTA New York City Transit.
  • Digital Mortar (San Rafael, Calif.): Uses passenger flow sensors “to provide real-time customer journey analytics for queue management, dynamic labor allocation, lost revenue analysis, and space planning and commercial real-estate optimization.” Its partner is NJT.
  • Humatics (Waltham, Mass.): Enables revenue service rolling stock “to provide near real-time monitoring of track conditions with precise positioning of track anomalies for improved maintenance operations.” The company teamed with NJT.
  • Lux Modus (Calgary, Canada): Uses LiDAR and imagery fusion technology “to automate 3D mapping to optimize asset management on critical transit infrastructure.” Its partner agencies are NJT, MTA New York City Transit, MTA Metro North Railroad, and MTA Long Island Rail Road.
  • Signapse AI (Guildford, U.K.): Uses AI to automatically translate written text to sign language “enabling scalable, faster and more cost-effective accessible content for the Deaf community.” The partner agency is PANY/NJ.
  • Swiftly Inc. (San Francisco, Calif.): Provides a transit data platform for agencies to share real-time passenger information, manage day-to-day operations, and improve service performance. Its partner agency is MTA New York City Transit.
  • TekTracking (Fairport, N.Y.): Offers a set of mobile applications “designed to streamline the reporting process for track inspection and signal testing.” TekTracking is said to serve as a link between conventional enterprise asset management systems and specialized fields such as track and signals. The company’s partner is PANY/NJ.
  • Throughput Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.): Provides a “rapid supply chain diagnostics software” that is said to enable “immediate operational intervention, eliminating maintenance downtime caused by supply chain delays and unavailability of parts.” Its partner agencies are MTA Metro North Railroad and MTA Long Island Rail Road.
  • WideSense (Berkeley, Calif.): Provides “full lifecycle” fleet electrification software and services. Its AI-powered “toolchain” is said to optimizes fleet operators’ performance from planning to dispatch to operations and maintenance. The company’s partner is NJT.
  • Wi-Tronix (Bolingbrook, Ill.): Offers an immersive, real-time IoT platform for railroads and transit systems “to continuously improve operations, safety practices, and service reliability.” Wi-Tronix is said to collect “insights” from onboard systems and enable “remote visibility for customers to make decisions and respond to issues quickly and efficiently.” Its partner agencies are MTA Metro-North Railroad and PANY/NJ.

All winners are eligible for competitive funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which Transit Tech Lab said provides support for projects that “demonstrate innovative transit-focused solutions that align with New York State’s clean transportation goals.”

Transit Tech Lab has fielded more than 750 applicants, tested 51 technologies, and facilitated eight commercial engagements since 2018. It is currently soliciting applications for three new challenges: Customer Experience, Resilience, and Curb Activity.

“Thanks to our partner agencies’ stewardship and our pilot winners’ cutting-edge technologies, we are proud to share that this is the largest Transit Tech Lab pilot class ever,” said Stacey Matlen, Vice President of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City. “We’re eager for New Yorkers to experience the advantages of their efforts, which will lead to a better experience for transit users through advancements in the critical areas of operational efficiency and human capital.”

“The Port Authority is always looking to refine our recruitment methods to bring in top-tier talent, as well as to elevate our operations practices to make sure our systems are efficient, reliable, and accessible for all customers,” said Rob Galvin, PANY/NJ’s Chief Technology Officer. “We’re eager to work with these companies through the Transit Tech Lab to help channel their ambition and ingenuity into something that can benefit our entire region.”

 “Implementing operating efficiencies and retaining top talent are top priorities to ensuring a stable future for the MTA,” MTA Senior Advisor for Special Projects Jessica Mathew said. “The pilot winners demonstrated solutions that have the ability to advance our efforts in these areas, and this next phase will allow us to scale these technologies up.”

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