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NYC Transit Tech Lab Opens New Round of Challenge Applications

Curb management is one of the latest areas the New York City Transit Tech Lab wants to explore as it opens its new call for applications to enter the lab’s sixth challenge event urging early growth stage companies to apply.

Curb management is on the list of issues to be addressed by New York City’s Transit Tech Lab.

The joint project of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Partnership Fund for New York City, known as The Lab, has announced its next round of “challenges," calling on the tech community — namely, early growth stage companies — to pitch solutions aimed at particular study areas identified by transportation officials.

In this latest round of challenges, the Tech Lab has identified customer experience, resiliency and curb activity as three separate challenges and is calling on the technology community for innovative ideas and solutions. A handful of companies will be selected to develop “proof of concept” projects which could be further fleshed out and scaled. The application process is open until Feb. 28.

This marks the sixth round of challenges for the accelerator-style competition, and the first to address the curb. The urban curb has vexed city transportation and planning officials across the U.S. with the rise of e-commerce; ride-hailing; new uses for the sidewalk, such as dining; and a focus on encouraging new sustainable modes of transportation — namely bikes.

New York City recently adopted its Curb Management Action Plan, which spells out a number of key goals, including dedicated bike lanes, reimagined loading zones for cargo bikes and the use of technology to flex the many uses for curbs.

Last year, New York City approved large pedal-assist cargo bikes for delivery purposes. The bikes can be up to 48 inches wide and have up to four wheels.

“We need to reimagine our curb space to ensure it meets the demands of a 21st-century city," said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, in a statement. "Better managing our curb space can make our streets safer and more vibrant, improving delivery access, outdoor dining, short-term parking and sustainable transportation options."

The Transit Tech Lab also wants to explore ideas to advance customer satisfaction with the transit and transportation systems. These ideas could be tech tools to improve communications with riders related to delays, schedule changes announcements and other information, or technology to better understand passenger flows and predict travel patterns.

These are the kinds of improvements that can help to drive outcomes, not just in New York City, but across transit organizations of all sizes.