Longer cars, better signals among subway ‘genius’ winners

March 9, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — High-tech signaling systems and longer cars are among the winners of a $2.5 million “genius challenge” for possible improvements to New York City’s subway system, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Friday.

Four winners in the signals category will split $1 million. They include three companies and one individual, transportation engineer Robert James.

James and Metrom Rail separately submitted proposals for using ultra-wideband wireless technology that can locate trains down to centimeters.

Ansaldo STS and Thales Group separately proposed a system that would use onboard sensors and cameras to position trains.

Three winners will split $1 million in the subway car category. They include two companies and one individual, lawyer and transit buff Craig Avedisian.

Avedisian proposed longer cars to increase the capacity of the system. The plan would require changing passenger loading procedures.

CRRC, the largest train car producer in the world, proposed an investment of $50 million to develop a new subway car using lighter materials and modular design.

CSinTrans proposed a software system that would transmit data from subway cars to maintenance crews so they could address problems more quickly.

Bechtel Innovation won the communication category with a proposal for a robotic system that would install communications and control infrastructure in subway tunnels. The company plans to spend its $500,000 award working with the MTA to develop specifications for the system.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced the genius challenge in June 2017 amid mounting anger over subway delays and derailments. Cuomo has sparred with Mayor Bill de Blasio, also a Democrat, over responsibility for fixing the system.

There were 438 submissions from transit firms, hobbyists and others.

It’s not clear whether any of the winning ideas will be implemented. The MTA said the proposals “will be thoroughly vetted and further developed” with future procurements subject to MTA board approval.

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