The MTA, along with AT&T, Transit Wireless, and New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, doled out $50,000 in prize money to developers on Thursday who created apps to help New Yorkers better navigate the city’s transit system.
The largest chunk of change went to YoTrain!, which won a $10,000 grand prize for Best Accessibility App for MTA Customers with Disabilities. The app sends a voice notification and text message to users’ phones when they approach their main commuting subway stations, letting them know how far away the train is.
“One day I was running to the train and it was snowing, and I thought I was going to be late, I could take a cab, or I could take a train, but I wasn’t sure. I took my phone, and I almost slipped and fell, and I thought there has to be a better way,” said developer Duong Nguyen. “Why can’t my phone just telling me if my train is coming before I even ask?”
Last fall, the MTA released new data sets on train, bus and subway arrival times, and the third annual contest challenged developers to create an app that would help the estimated 850,000 New Yorkers who have a disability while taking mass transit.
Nguyen said the app's voice alerts will help visually-impaired riders who can’t see the countdown clocks in the stations.
A total of 43 teams from 10 countries entered apps in the competition, and eight received prizes. A complete list of winners are listed at mta.info.