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CTA calls on private companies to submit tech solutions to improve system

CTA seeks private-sector proposals for improving service

CTA seeks private-sector proposals for improving service


CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago Transit Authority is trying something new to improve bus and train service for riders.

The transit agency on Tuesday launched what it calls the CTA Innovation Studio – calling for private-sector companies to submit ideas that could solve some of the CTA’s problems.

“The Innovation Studio provides a means of accelerating our efforts to address a variety of challenges affecting our day-to-day operations, ranging from our number one priority of safety to the customer experience and operational efficiencies,” CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. said in a news release. “And the first operational efficiency we are realizing with the launch of this program is the reduction of time it will take for us to begin real-world testing of cutting-edge technologies, which otherwise would take us months or years to bring to a reality .”

The CTA is asking developers to focus on three specific challenges.

  • Improving rail safety with technology that automatically detects objects or people on the tracks so as to avoid collisions, and either reduce or eliminate service delays. Infamously, back in November, a Yellow Line train coming from Skokie collided with a snow plow on the tracks near the Howard terminal – sending 19 people to the hospital and shutting down the line for seven weeks. The CTA did not mention this or any other specific incidents in the release.
  • Automating the process of managing conditions and more than 10,000 bus stops – rather than having people do it manually
  • Expanding real-time arrival and service alert information at both sheltered and unsheltered bus stops throughout the CTA system.

A CTA panel will review any proposals in hopes of testing out new ideas by the end of this year.