Technology

New York MTA launch subway signaling challenge

Posted on December 10, 2019

Participants pitched their technologies to address key signaling program priorities.
MTA/PatrickCashin
Participants pitched their technologies to address key signaling program priorities.MTA/PatrickCashin
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Transit Innovation Partnership, and Empire State Development hosted a Signaling Innovation Summit to bring together innovators to accelerate the modernization of New York City’s subway signaling system — a $7.1 billion program unprecedented in size and scope — and improve performance, service reliability, and safety for 5.7 million daily customers.

The MTA and the Transit Innovation Partnership also announced a new signaling challenge to identify ways to make existing subway cars compatible with new signaling technology faster and at a lower cost. Selected companies will have the opportunity to present at the MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership’s Demo Day on March 13, 2020.

“Pursuing new partnerships with cutting-edge companies in the tech world will be a gamechanger for the MTA,” said Mark Dowd, MTA chief innovation officer. “The infusion of new thinking and technology will make the MTA a leader in the transportation industry.”

The summit challenged approximately 100 companies from four continents to reimagine signaling infrastructure and advance the transition to 21st century signaling technologies. Participants pitched their technologies to address key signaling program priorities: improving on-time performance; enhancing operational flexibility; enhancing safety; building a system that is quicker to install, test, and maintain; and delivering these objectives on time and on budget.

A critical part of modernizing subway signaling in a cost-efficient manner is upgrading legacy train cars with new technology.
Marc A. Hermann
A critical part of modernizing subway signaling in a cost-efficient manner is upgrading legacy train cars with new technology.Marc A. Hermann

A team of academic and MTA experts from all agencies evaluated the proposed technologies on a set of criteria including whether the proposals are feasible in the MTA environment, in mature state for a live demonstration, present a new way of deriving value from existing MTA assets, and whether the pitch company has a qualified and compatible team to collaborate with the MTA.

A critical part of modernizing subway signaling in a cost-efficient manner is upgrading legacy train cars with new technology. Traditional networking methods to connect train and signaling components would make upgrading more expensive than buying new trains. The Signaling Challenge calls for reliable, cost-effective strategies that can accelerate the aggressive timeline of the MTA’s Fast Forward Plan and efficiently allocate the $7 billion included for signal modernization on six train lines in the 2020-2024 capital plan.

Companies with relevant solutions to the Signaling Challenge can learn more and apply at transitinnovation.org by Feb. 3, 2020.

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