NYC wants tech companies to help with its biggest transit problems

It's looking for solutions to its subway and bus issues.

Anyone in New York City can tell you that the public transit system, from the subway to the buses, is a mess. Overcrowding, traffic congestion and widespread delays are constant issues that commuters have to deal with. So the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), alongside the Partnership for New York City, is asking for some help, and it has created an accelerator focused on tech solutions to NYC's transit problems.

With the Transit Tech Lab, the MTA is posing two challenges, The Verge reports. The first deals with the subway, and the MTA wants tech companies to both figure out a better way to predict delays and devise solutions that minimize commuter disruption when delays pop up. Secondly, it's looking for tools that will help buses navigate through NYC's congested streets more quickly. "The MTA is in dire need for the application of new technologies to the services we provide for millions of New Yorkers every day," MTA President Patrick Foye told The Verge.

This solicitation of outside ideas follows the MTA's Genius Transit Challenge that concluded in March. The competition sought ideas for improving the subway system's signals, capacity and communications, and offered a total of $2.5 million in prize money.

Those interested in pitching products to the MTA can do so until November 30th, and the agency has put together a panel of experts who will evaluate submissions and select a group of winners. The best proposals will then get to participate in an eight-week accelerator program beginning in February. But it should be noted, the MTA is only looking for solidly developed products, not prototypes. Rachel Haot, executive director of the Transit Innovation Partnership, told The Verge that proposed technologies need to have "paying customers, established teams and the potential to improve transit performance and customer experience."

Following the accelerator program, the MTA will choose the most promising candidates to conduct a year-long pilot with the NYC transit system.