Transit Tech Providers Sought for COVID-19, Environmental Sustainability Challenges

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Transit Innovation Partnership have launched “COVID-19 Recovery” and “Environmental Sustainability” challenges for early- to growth-stage technology companies; applications are due March 25 for a chance to pilot products at MTA, New Jersey Transit, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and New York City Department of Transportation.

The transit agencies are “seeking solutions that restore customer confidence in public transportation, improve resilience to weather extremes, and further reduce the region’s carbon footprint,” according to MTA.

Examples of potential technologies and approaches for the Recovery Challenge include:
• “Real-time regional data tools that provide insights on new travel patterns.
• “Tools that streamline crew scheduling to ensure optimal staffing across operations. 
• “Enhancements to OMNY, the MTA’s successful contactless payment system, to improve the customer experience.
• “Technologies that improve safety and deter adverse events, including employee assaults and track intrusions.”

Examples for the Sustainability Challenge include:
• “Real-time asset tracking tools to prevent system failures, reduce operational costs, and improve energy efficiencies.
• “New technologies to improve Electric Vehicle (EV) bus range, increase battery performance, develop EV charging infrastructure, and rapidly deploy zero-emissions buses and locomotives.
• “Tools to support clean and efficient urban freight deliveries.
• “Climate resiliency innovations to protect transit assets from flooding during coastal events and severe rainstorms.
• “New techniques to allow customers to report extreme conditions in real time.”

Representatives from each transit agency will evaluate companies’ technologies based on:
Impact: “Technology is workable in the MTA’s environment, presents a viable solution relevant to the chosen challenge, and has the potential to positively impact performance and/or customer experience.”
• Product: Technology is in the prototype or later phase.
• Team: The company has a qualified team that’s able to participate in New York City.
• Value: “Technology presents a new way of deriving more value from existing MTA assets, presents a potential new revenue source or cost savings for the MTA, and/or offers an opportunity to more efficiently manage infrastructure, operations or customer service.”

Selected companies will move forward to conduct a proof-of-concept over an eight-week period.

MTA Senior Advisor for Innovation and Policy Michael Wojnar

“Since its inception in 2018, the challenges conducted by the Transit Tech Lab [part of the Transit Innovation Partnership] have provided tremendous value by connecting the MTA to firms with innovative solutions to problems that have plagued our system for years,” MTA Senior Advisor for Innovation and Policy Michael Wojnar said. “This year, we look forward to tackling two areas of critical importance with the Recovery Challenge and the Sustainability Challenge—reducing our carbon footprint and bringing customers back to the system.”

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