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Transportation Agencies Launch Tech Competition for COVID-19 Recovery and Environmental Sustainability

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT, NYC Department of Transportation and the Partnership for New York City have announced the fourth round of the Transit Tech Lab calling for technologies to aid in these agencies’ pandemic recovery and to meet sustainability objectives.

Agencies are seeking solutions that restore customer confidence in public transportation, improve resilience to weather extremes, and further reduce the region’s carbon footprint, including new tools that better predict travel patterns, identify extreme weather impacts in real time, and support clean and efficient freight deliveries.

Applications for the Recovery Challenge and Sustainability Challenge are due March 25 and are accessible at: http://transittechlab.org/

2022 Transit Tech Lab Challenges

Recovery Challenge: How can we support the recovery of public transit and deliver service that gets customers back?

As the New York metro-region recovers from COVID-19 it is vital to reimagine public transit to meet the region’s evolving needs and address new mobility patterns established during the pandemic-era. The Recovery Challenge calls for technologies and approaches that help make transit more responsive to the changing needs of New Yorkers while ensuring customers and employees feel safe. Examples 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

Sustainability Challenge: How can we build a more climate resilient transportation system while also increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions of our fleets and facilities?

Bus, rail and subway operations have been impacted by extreme weather events, including flash floods and winter storms. This challenge calls for technologies that help make public transportation more responsive to extreme weather. It also calls for innovative methods and measures to help the transportation sector meet state and federal goals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Examples 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 agency will evaluate companies based on the technology’s impact, product, team and value. Selected companies will move forward to conduct a proof-of-concept over an eight-week period.

The Tech Lab program is part of the Transit Innovation Partnership, which yielded the award-winning MTA Live Subway Map and was established by the MTA and the Partnership for New York City to bring private sector innovation to improve public transit.

Since 2018, the program has put the New York metropolitan region at the forefront of transit innovation, which promises to support the modernization of public transit and to transform the customer experience. Winners of previous competitions include Remix, a collaborative digital platform used to redesign the bus routes, and Axon Vibe, which built the Essential Connector smartphone app to help essential workers plan journeys during overnight subway disinfection closures.

Read more at the MTA

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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