CTA to Introduce ‘Innovation Studio’ to Address Public Transit Challenges with State-of-the-Art Solutions and Tools

December 13, 2023

Program creates partnership with private sector to create and test novel solutions to real challenges facing the agency and its customers

Today, the Chicago Transit Board authorized the creation of “Innovation Studio,” a program of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to solicit ideas from the private sector for innovative solutions for improving the customer experience, enhance operations and address safety and security challenges. With the creation of the Innovation Studio CTA will now able to quickly partner with companies to test selected solutions on the transit system.

“Public transit helped shape and build our incredible city as we know it today, and to ensure we remain relevant and central to its future, we must be able to adapt quickly to the ever-changing technologies driving our daily lives,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “The creation of the Innovation Studio will help accelerate our efforts to solve difficult problems impacting the agency and offer new means of improving the transit experience for our customers.”

Through the Innovation Studio, CTA will release several problem statements, which will be developed based on feedback from employees and customers that identify specific challenges it and its customers are facing. Companies will then submit their proposals for innovative pilots or proof of concepts (POCs) that they believe will address the rider challenges and improve internal operations.

An internal review panel consisting of representatives from a variety of CTA departments will evaluate the proposals for feasibility, scalability and innovation. Once the pilots and POCs are selected, CTA will work closely with the vendors to develop, launch and evaluate pilots and POCs on the transit system for up to one year. Based on the successful completion of the various pilots, CTA will determine next steps, potentially including issuing a formal procurement to deploy the technology on a wider scale. 

The Innovation Studio will help CTA to incorporate cutting-edge technology and process improvements across the agency to enhance the customer experience and increase operational efficiency. There have been similar programs that have been successful at other peer transit agencies including New York MTA’s Transit Innovation Partnership and the Boston’s MBTA’s Innovation Proposals.

Beginning in January 2024, CTA will work with its partners to develop the problem statements, provide additional information on the CTA website about Innovation Studio and host an information session for interested companies. CTA anticipates announcing the studio’s first pilots and POCs in June 2024.

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