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MTA Holding Competition To Find Best Apps For Commuters

Go To Transit Agency's Website And Choose From 1 Of 42 Contest Entries
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The 'Notify Me NYC' is among the applications competing in the MTA's AppQuest contest. (credit: thecortelyoucollective.org)

The ‘Notify Me NYC’ is among the applications competing in the MTA’s AppQuest contest. (credit: thecortelyoucollective.org)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — We all know commuting in the Tri-State Area can be a major headache. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is hoping social media can help its customers on a daily basis.

With technology advancing at break-neck speed, the MTA wants to hitch a ride help its customers along the way. On the MTA website you can vote for any one of 42 apps in the “AppQuest Challenge.” The goal of the program is to offer multi-purpose apps that will benefit commuters, reports CBS 2’s Mark Morgan.

“Know when the next bus is coming, know when the next train is coming, know the connection between your subway and getting on the LIRR or MetroNorth. It’s a way of helping people navigate everyday life,” AppQuest director Ernest Tollerson said.

Morgan spoke to several commuters at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday and asked them what features they would like to see in an app.

“I would like to see an application that would synchronize all the mass transportations so I can see if I get off of one transportation, could I connect immediately with another one,” said Rui Benros of Yonkers.

“I’d like to know which ones I have to run for, like if I’m going to New Canaan, and it says ‘you’d better run fast,’ I’d like one to come up red flashing, you know, if you can make it,” added Eileen Zannini of New Canaan.

There is a video presentation by each software developer outlining each app’s features. Several offer scheduling train “clocks,” which constantly check the schedule and status of Long Island Rail Road and MetroNorth trains. Tollerson said the technology for a subway version of this is not quite ready.

In addition to the online voting a nine-judge panel will also evaluate the apps, and not be swayed too much by public opinion.

“You’re always concerned with public voting that people with the most fans are just sending their own fans there. I’ll look at what the public likes, I’ll see what they’re saying and then I’ll try out all the apps,” AppQuest judge Ben Kabak said.

Regardless of which software designers win, these apps are now available to the public, so Tri-State commuters may already be the big winners.

The judge’s winning app designer will receive $5,000 and the people’s choice winner will get $2,000. The online app voting began Nov. 30 and ends Jan. 11.

Do you like this idea? What would you suggest for an MTA app? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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