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MTA announces app competition to help disabled New Yorkers - Metro US

MTA announces app competition to help disabled New Yorkers

A sample wayfinding app.
Patrick Cashin, MTA

The MTA is inviting local developers to create apps that will help an estimated 850,000 disabled New Yorkers navigate city transportation, and maybe win some cash.

The third-annual competition was announced in the 42nd Street Grand Central subway station on Wednesday morning, which is more than 100 years old but equipped to provide cell phone and WiFi service to public transit riders.

A total of $50,000 in prize money will be awarded by AT&T to the winning apps, which must be submitted by Feb. 3. The applications will be judged by technology experts, and the public will be able to vote for one of the awards.

“For me, on a daily basis, I travel with a disability,” said Matthew Puvogel, who is transportation coordinator for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “Traveling and navigating the system can be difficult at times, and stressful,” said Puvogel, adding he often relies on other passengers, and sounds, to navigate the system.

“Apps and other technology such as wayfinding can help with these situations,” Puvogel said

MTA Chair and CEO Thomas Prendergast said the MTA has released new sets of data for App Quest 3.0, that include on-time status for Metro-North and LIRR trains, historical MTA bus locations for a three-month period and train arrival estimates on eight subway lines and the Staten Island Railway.

Prendergast said the days of the MTA guarding that data are over, and believes apps with real travel times aren’t too far off.

Officials said “PROMObeacons” have been installed at Grand Central by Transit Wireless for beta testing. The beacons function underground much like GPS does, and will be able to pinpoint a user’s exact location, if they enable the function on their phones.

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