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ICYMI: Regional Transportation Agencies Test New Tech to Improve Operations, Employee Retention and Recruitment

Updated May 9, 2023 9:30 a.m.

Proofs of Concept will Leverage AI, LiDAR, and Edge Computing to Improve Transit Operations


Today, the Transit Tech Lab—a public-private initiative created by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Partnership for New York City to  introduce public transportation agencies in the New York City region to growth-stage private sector firms with innovative solutions—announced that 15 companies have been selected to collaborate with regional transit agencies to test technologies designed to enhance operational performance and improve employee retention and recruitment.

The Operational Efficiency and Human Capital Utilization challenges were announced in January 2023 and solicited nearly 150 applications from across the world. Applicants were asked to demonstrate how their solutions can mitigate service disruptions, automate operations, and combat workforce shortages. The companies selected will deploy their technologies over an eight-week “proof of concept” period with one or more of the following agencies: The MTA—including New York City Transit and Metro-North Railroad—the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT, and the NYC Department of Transportation.

Operational Efficiency Challenge

  • ACCURE Battery Intelligence (USA and Germany) – Leader in predictive battery analytics software that prevents battery fires and reduces the operations and maintenance costs of Electric Vehicle (EV) fleets.
    Partner Agencies: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York City Transit, NJ TRANSIT
  • Digital Mortar (San Rafael, CA) - Utilizes 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.
    Partner Agency: NJ TRANSIT
  • Humatics (Waltham, MA) – Enables revenue service rolling stock to provide near real-time monitoring of track condition with precise positioning of track anomalies for improved maintenance.
    Partner Agencies: New York City Transit, NJ TRANSIT
  • Lux Modus (Calgary, Canada) - Uses LiDAR and imagery fusion technology to automate 3D mapping to optimize asset management on critical transit infrastructure.
    Partner Agencies: New York City Transit, NJ TRANSIT
  • Optibus (Tel Aviv, Israel) - Uses artificial intelligence and optimization algorithms to empower planners and operators to improve public transit schedules and routes, with the potential to digitize the bus operator bid/pick process to optimize service needs.
    Partner Agency: New York City Transit
  • PavCon (Latrobe, PA) - Utilizes domain expertise, existing technology, and maintenance/operational data to deliver predictive maintenance and parts supply forecasts.
    Partner Agencies: Metro-North Railroad, New York City Transit
  • Signapse AI (Guildford, United Kingdom) - Utilizes AI to automatically translate written text to sign language enabling scalable, cheaper, and faster accessible content for the Deaf community.
    Partner Agencies: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NYC Department of Transportation, NJ TRANSIT
  • Swiftly Inc. (San Francisco, CA) - Provides the industry’s leading transit data platform for agencies to share real-time passenger information, manage day-to-day operations, and improve service performance.
    Partner Agency: New York City Transit, NJ TRANSIT
  • TekTracking (Fairport, NY) - Provides a suite of mobile applications to automate the process for reporting on track inspection & signal testing.
    Partner Agency:  Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • ThroughPut Inc. (Palo Alto, CA) - Provides a rapid supply chain diagnostics software that enables immediate operational intervention, eliminating maintenance downtime caused by supply chain delays and unavailability of parts.
    Partner Agency: Metro-North Railroad
  • Wi-Tronix (Bolingbrook, IL) - An immersive, real-time IoT platform that is essential for railroads and transit systems to continuously improve operations, safety practices, and service reliability; Wi-Tronix collects insights from onboard systems and enables remote visibility for customers to make decisions and respond to issues quickly and efficiently.
    Partner Agencies: Metro-North Railroad, New York City Transit, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT
  • Widesense (Berkeley, CA) - Provides real-time AI optimized actionable guidance to fleet operator dispatch and maintenance teams for optimized work assignments and charging schedules. The WideSense system helps EV operations eliminate range anxiety, ensure service reliability, and become more cost competitive than diesel fleet operations.
    Partner Agency: NJ TRANSIT

Human Capital Challenge

  • eSkill Corporation (North Chelmsford, MA) - Provides a Talent Assessment Platform, including an online testing library and a remote proctoring solution, to easily evaluate job candidates through a fully configurable online platform.
    Partner Agencies: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • 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.
    Partner Agencies: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • Pyxai (Boston, MA) - Provides a virtual video-enabled assessment platform that evaluates and collects data on soft skills (e.g., communication, problem solving, adaptability, etc.) to help identify overlooked talent, improve retention rates and reduce recruitment costs.
    Partner Agencies: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT

These challenges mark the fifth iteration of the Transit Tech Lab, which has helped the regional These challenges mark the Transit Tech Lab’s fifth annual global competition, which have helped the regional transportation network improve subway signaling, curb management, transit accessibility, and mitigate extreme weather conditions. Since 2018, the TTL has fielded over 600 applicants, tested 36 technologies, and facilitated seven commercial engagements. 

Stacey Matlen, Vice President of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City, said, “For the past five years, the Transit Tech Lab has been proud to bring together talented public- and private-sector partners who are committed to building an exciting new future for our transportation system. This new class of Transit Tech Lab companies are at the forefront of innovation and we can't wait for New Yorkers to yield the benefits of their work to improve operational efficiency and human capital utilization.”

Michael Wojnar, Senior Advisor for Innovation & Policy at MTA, said, “Every year, the leaders of the MTA present their most challenging issues to the Transit Tech Lab, and every year, the Challenges orchestrated by the Lab deliver. Several firms first brought to our attention via the TTL are now great business partners, having provided forward-thinking solutions to problems and conditions in desperate need of innovation. The relationship between the Transit Innovation Partnership, the TTL, and the MTA is one of the most successful and productive public-private partnerships in the long history of this Authority.”

Robert Galvin, chief technology officer of the Port Authority, said, “The Port Authority is excited to work with these growth-stage companies through the Transit Tech Lab to leverage their technology to complement our century of expertise operating world-class transportation facilities and infrastructure in the region. The work of the Transit Tech Lab to connect nontraditional tech solutions from these companies with challenges that large transportation systems like ours face is vital to ensuring that we all have access to innovation globally and can help create products that could serve industries beyond transportation.”

Will Carry, Assistant Commissioner for Policy, New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), said, “These selected companies offer exciting possibilities to strengthen the public sector workforce and improve customer service to transit riders. New York City DOT is proud to partner with transit agencies across the region to explore how technology can improve our communication to customers who use American Sign Language.”

Lookman Fazal, Chief Information Officer, NJ TRANSIT, said, "NJ TRANSIT is committed to partnering with innovative companies to help us stay at the forefront of this exciting evolution. By working with the Transit Tech Lab and its cohort of cutting-edge startups, we're not only improving our operations and enhancing the customer experience, but also building the foundation for decades of future innovations that will make a better world not just for our riders, but for us all. We're proud to be part of this forward-thinking initiative and look forward to the benefits it will bring to our riders and the broader transportation ecosystem."

About the Transit Tech Lab

The Transit 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.