Challenge Finalists

In December 2017 we had the pleasure of announcing the Finalists in the MTA Genius Transit Challenge.

Since the Challenge’s launch in June 2017, we received 438 Submissions from 23 countries. Of those Submissions, the MTA Genius Transit Challenge Judges selected 64 semifinalists to move on to Phase 2. A Technical Evaluation Committee and Judges panel reviewed all of the semifinalist applications and selected 19 to move on to the final round, before ultimately selecting the Winners in Q1 2018.

See the Finalists in Each Challenge Area:

Proposals that Modernize New York City’s Subway Signal System

Using Smart Mobility to Improve Signals & Operations


AECOM proposes Genie, an Artificial Intelligence transit advisor that leverages IBM Watson. Genie aims to move more people through the entire subway system faster by intelligently aligning service delivery to customer demand. It takes into account the location of trains, flows of customers, incidents, weather, and other data to formulate recommendations to dispatchers. Genie is scalable, low-cost and can be delivered quickly. It supports the MTA in achieving its service delivery goals through technical innovation.

Next Generation Peer-to-Peer CBTC


Alstom proposes the redistribution of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) from the traditional wayside/train-borne split to a train-centric solution. By reducing the need to modernize existing wayside equipment, CBTC installation costs and effort are reduced, as well as maintenance requirements. This proposal features direct peer-to-peer communication between trains and moves data processing onto the train itself.

Video Odometry, Heads-Up Display and Augmented Reality

Ansaldo STS

Ansaldo STS USA proposes the deployment of outward-facing video cameras, a heads-up display, and Augmented Reality devices inside the trains to remove many conventional signaling devices, including signals, balises, speed sensors, and mechanical train stops.

Acorn – Autonomous Car Operating Rail Network


Arup proposes the Autonomous Car Operating Rail Network (Acorn) system, a newly-developed alternative to Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC). Acorn establishes a virtual train-to-train communication path by use of open-source software and hardware with on-board processing and distributed architecture. This reduces trackside equipment, which subsequently can reduce delays by simplifying the signal system architecture.

Connected Vehicles & Ultra-Wideband for Communications & Location

Robert J. (Individual)

This application proposes to combine Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and Connected Vehicle (CV) technologies. UWB can provide centimeter accuracy for all cars in the tunnels and can be deployed at a lower cost than Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC). When utilized with existing or future Connected Vehicles, UWB would provide a high level of train location accuracy, which greatly improves train control.


Metrom Rail

Metrom Rail proposes the Positive Train Control System (PTCS-2), an Ultra-Wideband RF based wireless train control system. PTCS-2 does not rely on a “back office” or centralized data structure; instead, intelligent wayside “nodes” replace conventional Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) equipment. The system approaches train control much like an autonomous automobile system navigates, making the vehicle or train ”smart”, resulting in a lower cost, easier to deploy modular solution.

Rapid Signaling Deployment: A Dramatically New Approach


Siemens proposes to dramatically accelerate Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) deployment by (1) adding axle counters and eliminating all track circuits and train stops, and (2) reducing the design and procurement time by using a true ‘design-build’ approach system-wide. The introduction of the axle-counting system reduces the time to upgrade interlockings. CBTC can be tested during passenger service, significantly reducing service outages and costs. CBTC can evolve to be cloud based.

Approach with Several Compatible Ideas Integrated

Thales Group

Thales proposes several ideas to accelerate the deployment of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC). These ideas include bundling lines together into packages, creating a “One Team” approach with Transit Authority and suppliers, and creating a shared incentive procurement model. Additionally, Thales proposes to use LIDAR Surveying, CBTC-Interlocking integration, elimination of track circuits and most signals, train operation simulation, and communications to support big data diagnostics.

Next Generation Positioning

Thales Group

Thales proposes a new autonomous train car platform that will use sensors such as cameras, radar, GPS, and/or Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology for train positioning. With the use of advanced processing algorithms, the new sensors provide trains with the ability to sense obstacles and determine their speed and location while minimizing the use of wayside infrastructure. The new technology being proposed uses technology similar to what has been deployed in autonomous vehicles.

Proposals that Rapidly Deploy Modernized Subway Cars to the Subway System

Subway Car Reliability


Alstom proposes a program to overhaul existing subway cars and reintroduce them into the system. The upgrades include systems that will interface with Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) equipment, improve the reliability of the door and HVAC sub-systems, enhance the main lighting in cars by switching to a full LED system and improve the design of car interiors to increase passenger flow and comfort.

Modify Passenger Loading with Longer Trains to Increase Capacity

Craig A. (Individual)

This application proposes adding up to four cars to trains currently in operation to increase both train capacity and passenger comfort. Passengers will be able to travel from any station to any station, but they must board a car that will platform at their destination. Some cars at the front and back of a train will not platform at every station, but generally will platform at alternating stations.

Next Generation Fleet Solution


Bombardier proposes delivering new cars and refurbishing old cars with a modular concept introducing interchangeability and minimizing replacement cost. Utilization of a common vehicle platform and “smart,” standardized components, including the Bombardier IP-based high-bandwidth on-board network, will increase fleet reliability and optimize availability. This will all be teamed with an intelligent, data-driven, predictive maintenance to reduce the life cycle costs of the fleet.

$50 Million Initial Investment to Design NYC Transit's Car of the Future


CRRC proposes a shorter vehicle lifecycle, moving from a 40-year vehicle life to a 20-year vehicle life. Cars can be made of new, lighter structural materials and include the latest electronic technology, potentially resulting in increased vehicle availability and reliability, decreased operational cost due to energy savings from decreased vehicle weight, and reduced scheduled heavy maintenance.

Harnessing Big Data


CSINTRANS proposes its TRANSIS communications platform to provide riders with in-journey real-time information, and the MTA with current maintenance information for both “legacy” and new car fleets connecting the trains with the maintenance and communications centers of the MTA. The platform is an open information system with core communications technology such as data radio links, on-board train positioning, location services, passenger information, public address/intercom and HD LCD displays.

Innovative Brake Control System

Faiveley (Wabtec)

Wabtec proposes a newly developed product to improve the braking system performances, reduce the braking systems failure rate, increase the Mean Time Between Overhauls, and provide a quick and easy “in house” maintenance and repair process. In addition, the product includes a condition maintenance function. Wireless communication to ground ensures continuous diagnostic and system usage data update in ground servers accessible to the MTA.

Proposals that Increase Communications Infrastructure in the Subway System

Next Generation Subway Communications

Alcatel-Lucent (Nokia)

Nokia proposes the deployment of a standards-based trackside private LTE and a IP/MPLS backbone fiber network, enabling train control, signals, and Wi-Fi for passengers on the train. The network fueled by Bell Labs Innovation can support multiple segregated applications, interoperable with existing IP technologies, enables flexible transition from legacy interfaces to IP, and provides a comprehensive cybersecure solution.

Multi-service High Capacity, Flexible Network


Alstom’s proposal is based on a trackside private LTE network and a backbone IP/MPLS network, complimented by an end-to-end cyber security solution, an Internet of Things solution to enable train control and signals, and Wi-Fi for passengers on the train. Trackside equipment will be fed by new fiber optic cable.

Robotic Installation System


Bechtel proposes a semi-automated robotic system that can rapidly install typical railway communications and control systems infrastructure within the tunnels, such as cabling and supplemental wireless devices.

High-Speed Connected Train Network

Transit Wireless

Transit Wireless proposes to build a private, secure, dedicated LTE network connecting trains to a mix of tunnel entrance and trackside radios. The new network would expand on the existing fiber network and leverage Transit Wireless’ existing in-station network, backhaul facilities and data centers. This network will support MTA initiatives, including: train control and signaling, Wi-Fi, digital advertising, cellular services and carrier offload within the train cars. The network will be based on open industry standards, commercial products and fully interoperable with all industry vendors.

Innovation Timeline