NEW YORK - Better, faster transit service. Isn’t that what every New Yorker wants? The MTA and the Partnership for New York City could be closer to finding the latest technological options that could potentially improve subway and bus service for New Yorkers.  

On Thursday, the MTA welcomed the 10 semi-finalists of the Transit Tech Lab who had survived from about 100 applicants.

“These companies have applied from all around the world to demonstrate their technologies and potentially have the chance for a pilot with the MTA,” said Rachel Haot, Executive Director, Transit Innovation Partnership.

Tech companies were asked to answer one of two questions: how to better predict and prevent subway delays, and how to make buses faster and more efficient. MTA specialists and business experts evaluated the pitches.  

“I suppose one key problem bus companies always have is matching supply with demand,” said Brian O’Rourke, CEO of CitySwifter.

CitySwifter’s technology will analyze historical bus data to predict future demand on any particular day and time, like how many passengers rode the M1 bus on Christmas Eve at 1:30 p.m.

“And what we do with simple visualizations is give all that information, tools and insights, to the operations and scheduling team so they can then use their humans and local knowledge to make the best decisions and send out the right amount of vehicles,” explained O’Rourke.

Other technology by Remix could help the MTA redesign bus routes.

“We are a software platform, you can drag and drop around on a map and immediately see the impacts on cost, how much it would cost to finance this route, also see the demographics, who and which communities would be served with that change and then make an educated decision on whether that’s a good decision for the MTA,” said Tiffany Chu, Co-Founder of Remix.

And tech company Zenabi promises to relieve commuter frustration with more accurate countdown timers inside subway stations.  

“The subway countdown timers don’t see where the train is at every point in the track,” said Brandon Hertell, Zenabi’s Vice President. “It only knows when a train arrives and departs from the previous station. And that’s the number that current customers see on the countdown timer on the clock. What we’re proposing to do is fill that gap with data science technology so we can have a better idea of where that train is as it is traveling along the tracks.”  

Some or all of the ten companies could be selected for an eight-week accelerator program in which they will develop further understanding challenges facing the MTA and modify their technologies. Successful companies could be selected for a one-year pilot with the MTA.