New York transit picks 10 firms to test new tech ideas

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New York City-area transit agencies on Tuesday named 10 companies that will design experimental technology that can aid the region in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and boost environmental sustainability.

The Transit Tech Lab, a startup accelerator led by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the nonprofit Partnership for New York City, announced the companies as winners of a competition announced earlier this year. The winners have eight weeks to run pilot projects that either help the region’s transit systems — including the subway, Metro North Railroad and New Jersey Transit — recover from additional stresses of the health crisis or improve the environment, such as by reducing emissions.

The winners include Clarifai, a computer-vision firm that hopes to identify unsafe behavior in train stations, and StormSensor, which uses climate data to monitor and manage flooding. Eight other companies are using AI, data and sensors to take on road traffic, electric vehicle fleet management, fare evasion and roadway condition monitoring. 

Robert Galvin, Chief Technology Officer at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said in a press release he’s excited to see what the companies can produce to further a goal of net zero emissions by 2050. 

When the lab announced the competition in January, the lab’s founding director, Natalia Quintero, told StateScoop she hoped the winners could help rebuild public trust in public transit. Like many other industries, public transit took a financial hit during the pandemic — public transit agencies face a nearly $40 billion shortfall through the end of 2023, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

The lab’s run three similar competitions testing new technologies, including a live subway map now used by the MTA.

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