Smart City

Smart City Sentinel

In the Smart City, Transportation Innovation is a Team Sport

By Matthew Vulpis

On 253 bus routes and 12 rail lines statewide, NJ TRANSIT provides nearly 270 million passenger trips each year, within the state and in and out of the city that never sleeps, just across the Hudson River.

Covering a service area of 5,325 square miles, NJ TRANSIT is the nation's third-largest provider of bus, rail, and light rail transit, linking major points in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. The agency operates an active fleet of 2,221 buses, 1,231 trains, and 93 light rail vehicles.

It is the third-largest transit system in the country, with 166 rail stations, 62 light rail stations, and more than 19,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia.

NJ TRANSIT also administers publicly funded transit programs for people with disabilities, senior citizens, and people living in the state's rural areas who have no other means of transportation.

NJ TRANSIT is vital to the state's economic and social well-being, as well as it's quality of life, supporting individuals, families, communities, businesses, and government agencies, and like so many other transportation corporations, had to address complex issues created by the global pandemic. During that time, the organization continues to drive through improvements, advancing the quality of rider experience, the level of cleanliness and safety and laying out a 10-year strategic plan, NJT2030, and a 5-year Capital Plan as a roadmap for improvement.

"As the largest state transit system in the country, NJ TRANSIT provides irreplaceable mobility to the residents of the nation's most densely populated state and surrounding regions, transporting nearly one million customers a day with our train, bus, light rail, and Access Link services – safely, reliably and affordably for over 40 years," the organization said in sharing their vision online. "We are building a system our customers can depend on while creating a modern, world-class, 21st-century transit network. It's a bold vision of our future as we look at what we need to be in 2030."

This week, Smart City Works Venture Studio, a business launched in February of this year by a team of experienced entrepreneurs who have substantial experience in IoT and infrastructure, smart cities, construction, smart buildings, mobility, and environmental expertise, announced NJ TRANSIT has joined in partnership as an Agency Member.

Smart City Works Venture Studio (SCWVS) is a joint initiative between Smart City Works Venture Labs, a next-generation business accelerator focused on urban infrastructure,  and Rocket Wagon Venture Studios (RWVS), the parent organization that provides the architectural cyber-physical framework including considerations regarding devices, security, privacy, data governance and ownership, communications, and a broad range of analytics, as well as shared legal and financial services, underlying operational systems, and corporate relationships.  Through investments in human capital, operations, and business plan execution, Smart City Works Venture Studio will support corporate intrapreneurship and early-stage ventures to help take them to Series A or exit.

As the nation's largest statewide public transit agency, NJ TRANSIT will collaborate with the SCWVS to pursue proven innovation methods and best practices for using technology in delivering safe, affordable, quality transportation to its customers.

The Smart City Works Venture Studio is an execution stage startup program designed to identify the key trends and opportunities in infrastructure where technology and associated innovative processes can make a difference in how infrastructure is developed, deployed, and maintained in terms of quality, accessibility, cost, and sustainability.

Jeremy Colangelo-Bryan, Chief Planner at NJ TRANSIT, said, "We are interested to explore the SCWVS model. Interaction with market participants, access to innovative startups, learning about the studio's research and its academic alliances, and interacting with the studio team and advisors are all valuable.  The studio can therefore provide a valuable perspective that can help NJ TRANSIT in its ongoing efforts to improve efficiency and effectiveness by leveraging relevant and meaningful innovation."

"For many years, our industry has been reluctant to fully embrace innovation and technological advancement, but over the past few years, we have seen significant investments from industry-leading companies, private equity, and VC sources," said Tim McManus, Chair of the Smart City Works Venture Studio Board of Advisors, and former McKinsey VP of Capital Projects. "As corporations and agencies alike realize the vast gains digital transformation can provide, the ecosystem created by Smart City Works Venture Studio offers them insights, access to innovation, talent development opportunities, and exposure to proven methods and best practices that can make a big impact."

Edited by Luke Bellos
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