Friday, June 30, 2017

MTA plans to overhaul subway system

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief, Railway Age
MTA plans to overhaul subway system Metropolitan Transportation Authority

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an edict to the MTA to focus on "transformational change" for the city's rapid transit network, the first segment of which opened in 1904.

Cuomo did this on the final day of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Genius Transit Challenge Conference, just two days after an unsecured segment of replacement rail apparently caused a New York City Transit subway train to derail in Harlem.

Newly re-installed MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota on June 29, at the MTA Genius Transit Challenge Conference, "responded to Governor Cuomo's challenge by announcing he will conduct a top-to-bottom audit to overhaul the organization and present a plan within 60 days to modernize the subway system," MTA said in a statement. "The MTA, working with transit experts and top management consultants, will do a comprehensive audit of the challenges facing and limitations of the organization to identify strategies for short- and long-term transformational change. Thirty days later, the MTA will then put forward a detailed, long-term plan, in conjunction with the MTA Genius Transit Challenge, to overhaul the system, focusing on a series of MTA priorities, including changing and training personnel, implementing and executing processes that work, improving customer communication and engaging and implementing new technology."

"Millions of New Yorkers depend on the MTA every day, and we must rebuild confidence in the authority with a complete overhaul of the system—identifying the root causes of our problems and taking immediate and decisive action to fix them," Lhota said. "It is our responsibility to transport people as safely, quickly and efficiently as possible, and the current state of the subway system is unacceptable. In tandem with the Genius competition proposals, we will deploy a multi-faceted plan to restore confidence to the MTA and prove that we can deliver for our customers."

New York City's storied subway system serves nearly nearly six million riders a day (70% of all subway rides in the U.S.). "Yet as ridership has soared, changes to its infrastructure have not kept pace," MTA said. "New York City Transit must innovate to accommodate a growing demand and to continue to be the economic engine of the city, state, and region."

Part of accomplishing this objective is the MTA's Genius Transit Challenge, an international competition "seeking innovative solutions to modernize and improve the reliability of the New York City subway system." The competition will award a "genius" prize of up to $1 million for the best idea in each of three Challenge areas:

• Improve Signaling: Accelerate deployment of modern train control technologies (such as CBTC) to increase peak period train throughput with faster, more reliable service.

• Rapidly Deploy Modernized Subway Cars: Procure and deploy modern subway cars more efficiently, or refurbish existing cars in order to increase system capacity and reliability, prevent car breakdowns and reduce delays.

• Increase Communications Infrastructure: Identify communications systems that will support rapid installation and deployment of modern train communications and control technologies to increase capacity and reliability.

Proposals are to be submitted and reviewed during a two-phase evaluation process. In Phase 1, applicants will submit an application for one or more of the three Challenge areas. Applications that meet all New York State requirements will be evaluated by criteria that may include their ability to fulfill Challenge objectives, their innovativeness, and their capacity for implementation.

An evaluation committee of "subject-matter experts" will select applications to proceed to Phase 2, in which applicants will receive additional guidelines for their submissions, have an opportunity to refine their application(s), and be required to provide in-depth details and supporting materials for their application(s).

The evaluation committee "will score refined applications on criteria that may include their ability to fulfill Challenge objectives, innovativeness, capacity for implementation, and cost effectiveness," MTA said. "The expert judging panel will select the winners for each category from the final group of applicants." Winners are to be selected year-end 2017.

The Genius Transit Challenge Judging Panel includes Joe Lhota, Chairman, MTA; Ronnie Hakim, President, MTA New York City Transit; Janno Lieber, Chief Development Officer, MTA; Phil Eng, Chief Operating Officer, MTA; Sarah Feinberg, former Federal Railroad Administrator; Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean and Vice Provost, Cornell Tech; Charles Phillips, CEO, Infor; Kristina Johnson, Chancellor-elect, SUNY (State University of New York); Greg Brown, Chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions; Nick Grossman, General Manager, Union Square Ventures; Eliot Horowitz, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, MongoDB; and Balaji Prabhakhar, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stanford University.

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