Metropolitan Transportation Authority logo

MTA Press Releases

Press Release
May 2, 2013
MTA, NYU-Poly and AT&T Kick Off App Quest Challenge with Hackathon This Weekend
Intensive Weekend-Long Effort and Three Month Global Challenge to Develop Apps for Transit Riders


Hundreds of app developers and technological whizzes will gather this weekend for an intensive weekend-long collaboration/competition expected to result in big benefits for MTA riders. It will be the first “hackathon” to encourage app development to be officially sanctioned by the MTA, and the results will be presented at the conclusion of the weekend’s work.
Winners will go on to compete this summer in 2013 App Quest, a global apps challenge being sponsored by Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) and AT&T, cosponsored by the MTA, and powered by ChallengePost. The challenge seeks to encourage the creation of apps that will help improve MTA riders’ commutes using real time information and other innovations. 
NYU-Poly will hold the two-day hackathon in its MetroTech Center campus in downtown Brooklyn. It will be open to the news media throughout the weekend. Hackathon participants and developers from around the globe can continue working on transit apps using MTA data as part of the multi-month App Quest virtual challenge. Final submissions are due on August 20, 2013.
“With subway riders having greater access to wireless connectivity below ground, and with the availability of new real-time data from the MTA, this is a critical moment for the creation of new apps for MTA riders,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “We are delighted that NYU-Poly, the MTA, AT&T and ChallengePost have been able to come together to reinforce what we are seeking to do with the statewide #OpenNY initiative to make State government data more open, more accessible, and more transparent.”
“With the expansion of underground wireless comes the opportunity to develop new technologies to help improve the daily commute for millions of transit riders,” said Marissa Shorenstein, President of AT&T New York. “AT&T is excited to be at the forefront of this effort with the MTA to spur the development of these innovations and leverage the power of mobile communications to make riding the rails an even better experience.”  
“NYU-Poly is excited to be the educational partner in this hackathon that promises to benefit transit riders throughout the city,” said NYU-Poly President Katepalli Sreenivasan. “It will allow our students to interact with New York’s innovative developer community while challenging them to employ their knowledge from our Integrated Digital Media and engineering programs to produce creative apps worthy of commercialization.”
Brandon Kessler, ChallengePost CEO, said: “There is so much benefit to be had from improving rider experience through great software. It's inspiring to see MTA and AT&T take a lead role in working with developers for this global software competition and in-person hackathon.”
Through App Quest, app developers are competing for $50,000 in prize money, which will go to the apps that can best help the riding public more easily use the MTA’s subways, railroads, buses, bridges and tunnels. The hackathon’s opening introductions will be on Saturday, May 4, at 10 a.m.  The participants will then work around the clock to prepare to present their final products by 5:30 p.m. on Sunday to an exacting panel of techno-savvy, transportation-savvy judges:
Matt Brimer, General Assembly Co-Founder 
R. Luke DuBois, Assistant Professor of NYU-Poly’s Department of Technology, Culture and Society
Susan Gladstone, Urban Planner, NYU-Poly Adjunct Faculty in Sustainable Urban Environments
Rachael Haot, Chief Digital Officer, City of New York
Todd Haselton, Executive Director of Mobile, TechnoBuffalo
Brian Malkerson, NYC Seed, Principle 
Andrew Rasiej, NY Tech Meetup Chairman 
Marissa Shorenstein, President of AT&T New York
Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer, Columbia University
Craig Stewart, Senior Corporate Management Officer, MTA New York City Transit
The team that builds that the demonstration app judged to be the best application of the hackathon will receive the grand prize of $5,000. The winners of the second prize will receive $3,000, and third prize, $2,000. After the hackathon concludes, developers will have several months to refine their products before submitting the final versions that will compete for a total of $40,000 in “virtual challenge” prize money. The final version of the apps will be made available to the public through the App Quest website and through the usual app channels including Google Play and the iTunes App Store. Those apps will also be showcased in the MTA’s app gallery on Prize money is being provided by AT&T.
“We are delighted by the level of enthusiasm that the app development community has brought to help our customers better use our system,” said Tom Prendergast, MTA Interim Executive Director, who has been nominated by Governor Cuomo to serve as MTA Chairman and CEO. “App developers have already proven themselves to be creative, engaged, and energetic. We’re looking forward to seeing what they will come up with this weekend.”
General Assembly, a network of campuses that transforms thinkers into creators through our classes, workshops, and long-form courses in technology, business, and design, has agreed to send instructors to provide support and technical assistance to the teams as they make their final presentations. NYU-Poly’s Department of Technology, Culture and Society and its Integrated Digital Media program are providing event support.
The competition is the MTA’s second App Quest. The first MTA App Quest, held from July 2011 to February 2012, received 42 MTA-related app entries. The top winners of that competition were Embark NYC, Free NYC Subway Locator and Notify Me NYC.  
Since the last App Quest challenge was held, technological innovation has expanded the availability of digital data:
This past Friday, April 25, Transit Wireless activated wireless service at 30 underground subway stations in Manhattan and announced that the next 40 stations to receive wireless service, in Midtown and Queens, are expected online in the first quarter of 2014. 
In December 2012, the MTA released real-time data showing train arrival estimates at the 156 stations served by the 1 Subway2 Subway3 Subway4 Subway5 Subway6 Subway subway lines and S Subway 42nd Street Shuttle. This dynamic data, which is held in the MTA’s cloud-hosted GTFS-Real Time Feed, essentially make “countdown clock” information available via app. 
In November 2012, MTA Bus Time™ expanded to the Bronx, bringing real-time bus location data to 54 bus routes and 3,355 stops.
On March 27, Google added MTA real-time data to Google maps.
WHEN: Saturday, May 4, 2013 – 10 a.m. – Opening Introductions
Sunday, May 5, 2013 – 4 p.m. – Final presentations 
Sunday, May 5, 2013 – 5:30 p.m. – Judging & awards ceremony
NOTE: The hackathon will be open to the media throughout the duration of the weekend as developers are working in teams to build apps.
WHERE: Polytechnic Institute of New York University 
6 MetroTech Center
Subway: A SubwayC SubwayF SubwayR Subway to Jay St-Metrotech or 2 Subway3 Subway4 Subway to Borough Hall; 
Bus: B26, B54, B57, B62 or B67 to Jay St. & Myrtle Av.; 
Railroad: LIRR to Atlantic Terminal for connection to R Subway2 Subway3 Subway4 Subway or B67.
About AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile broadband and emerging 4G capabilities, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries.  It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse® and AT&T │DIRECTV brands. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive are known for their leadership in local search andadvertising. 
Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at  This AT&T news release and other announcements are available at  and as part of an RSS feed at Or follow our news on Twitter at @ATT.
About Polytechnic Institute of New York University
The Polytechnic Institute of New York University (formerly the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and the Polytechnic University, now widely known as NYU-Poly) is an affiliated institute of New York University, soon to be its School of Engineering. NYU-Poly, founded in 1854, is the nation’s second-oldest private engineering school. It is presently a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a 159-year tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. It remains on the cutting edge of technology, innovatively extending the benefits of science, engineering, management and liberal studies to critical real-world opportunities and challenges, especially those linked to urban systems, health and wellness, and the global information economy. In addition to its programs on the main campus in New York City at MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn, it offers programs around the globe remotely through NYUe-Poly. NYU-Poly is closely connected to engineering in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai and to the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) also at MetroTech, while operating two incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. For more information, visit
About ChallengePost
ChallengePost is a web platform that enables government agencies, corporations, non-profits, and individuals to challenge the public to solve problems. Challenge sponsors receive innovative solutions and increased awareness around important initiatives. Members of the public receive recognition and rewards. ChallengePost has powered over 200 challenges on behalf of some of the world’s largest organizations.
About the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is North America’s largest public transportation network, serving a population of 14.9 million people in the 5,000-square-mile area fanning out from New York City through Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and southwestern Connecticut.  MTA subways, buses, and railroads provide 2.63 billion trips each year to New Yorkers – the equivalent of about one in every three users of mass transit in the United States and two-thirds of the nation’s rail riders. MTA Bridges and Tunnels carry nearly 300 million vehicles a year – more than any other toll agency in the nation.