MTA, Transit Innovation Partnership & Empire State Development Announce Signaling Challenge & Demo Day at Signaling Innovation Summit

Resource Type: News, Press Releases

Selected Innovators Invited to Demonstrate Cutting-Edge Technology at Demo Day March 13

As Part of Historic Capital Plan, MTA to Begin Soliciting Bids in Second Half of 2020 for $7.1 Billion Signaling Modernization Program Unprecedented in Size and Scope

Approximately 100 Companies from Four Continents Attend Symposium and Compete to Accelerate Modernization of New York City Transit’s Signaling System

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Transit Innovation Partnership and Empire State Development today hosted a Signaling Innovation Summit to bring together the best and brightest innovators to accelerate the modernization of New York City’s subway signaling system – a $7.1 billion program unprecedented in size and scope – and improve performance, service reliability and safety for 5.7 million daily customers.

The MTA and the Transit Innovation Partnership also announced a new signaling challenge to identify ways to make existing subway cars compatible with new signaling technology faster and at a lower cost. Selected companies will have the opportunity to present at the MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership’s Demo Day on March 13, 2020.

“The MTA is committed to pursuing the most innovative solutions possible as we undergo a historic transformation to change the way we do business,” said Patrick J. Foye, MTA Chairman and CEO. “We’re eager to hear proposals on signal modernization that will help us deliver on our core mission to provide faster, more reliable service for our millions of daily customers.”

“Pursuing new partnerships with cutting-edge companies in the tech world will be a gamechanger for the MTA,” said Mark Dowd, MTA Chief Innovation Officer. “The infusion of new thinking and technology will make the MTA a leader in the transportation industry.”

“The New York City subway system cannot truly be modernized without robust improvements to its aging signal infrastructure. This is a time for innovation and collaboration,” Rachel Haot, Executive Director of Transit Innovation Partnership, said. “We look forward to working closely with the MTA’s leadership team to identify transformative opportunities to bring the subway system into the 21st century.”

“New York’s economic growth relies on a modern, resilient, dependable transit system,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “As the MTA continues to upgrade the service it delivers to riders, events like the one announced today will challenge us not only to plan for the needs of tomorrow’s commuters, but to acknowledge the critical importance a strong transportation network has on our future economy.”

The summit challenged approximately 100 companies from four continents to reimagine signaling infrastructure and advance the transition to 21st century signaling technologies. Participants pitched their technologies to address key signaling program priorities: improving on-time performance; enhancing operational flexibility; enhancing safety; building a system that is quicker to install, test and maintain; and delivering these objectives on time and on budget.

A team of academic and MTA experts from all agencies evaluated the proposed technologies on a set of criteria including whether the proposals are feasible in the MTA environment, in mature state for a live demonstration, present a new way of deriving value from existing MTA assets, and whether the pitch company has a qualified and compatible team to collaborate with the MTA.

MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership Demo Day and Signal Challenge

A critical part of modernizing subway signaling in a cost-efficient manner is upgrading legacy train cars with new technology. Traditional networking methods to connect train and signaling components would make upgrading more expensive than buying new trains. The Signaling Challenge calls for reliable, cost-effective strategies that can accelerate the aggressive timeline of the MTA’s Fast Forward Plan and efficiently allocate the $7 billion included for signal modernization on six train lines in the 2020-2024 capital plan.

Companies with relevant solutions to the Signaling Challenge can learn more and apply at transitinnovation.org by Feb. 3, 2020.

The MTA will select the most promising companies who apply to present their ideas at the Signaling Demo Day on March 13, 2020.

Technologies identified at the Signaling Demo Day which successfully address key objectives may be eligible for Test & Evaluate contracts. These contracts support the research and development of new technologies prior to the procurement phase, allowing the MTA to test and customize innovative products in the transit environment.

“The use of Test & Evaluate contracts allows the MTA to utilize an under-leveraged procurement method to test the reliability of new technology,” said Steve Plochochi, NYCT Senior Vice President of Procurement and Supply Chain. “The upcoming Signaling Demo Day is great opportunity for the MTA to identify innovative new ideas that advance our efforts to modernize the subway’s outdated signal system.”

2020-2024 Capital Plan Signal Modernization Program 

Over the next five-year Capital Program, the MTA will award signal modernization contracts for the following six line corridors, with contract awards beginning in the second half of 2020.

The following lines have been selected as part of the program:

  • Queens Boulevard Line East ( from Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike to Jamaica 179 St and Jamaica Center Parsons/Archer)
  • Crosstown ( from Court Square to Hoyt-Schermerhorn)
  • Lexington Avenue ( 149 St-Grand Concourse to Nevins St)
  • Fulton ( from Jay St to Euclid Av)
  • Astoria ( from Astoria Ditmars to 57 St-7 Av)
  • 63 Street ( from 21 St-Queensbridge to 57 St-6 Av)

The signal innovation summit underscores the MTA’s commitment to innovation and transformation and supports the agency’s highest priority: upgrading its outdated signaling system. For more information on the historic 2020-2024 Capital Plan, please visit:  https://new.mta.info/capital/2020CapitalProgram

Gig Economy Testimony

Resource Type: News, Press Releases, Testimony

Today, the Partnership for New York City submitted the following testimony on gig economy workers to the New York State Assembly.

___

The Partnership for New York City represents private sector employers of more than 1.5 million New Yorkers. We work together with government, labor and the nonprofit sector to maintain the city’s position as the preeminent global center of commerce, innovation and economic opportunity.

Thank you, Chairman Crespo, for your thoughtful approach to ensuring that New Yorkers who earn their living through the so-called “Gig Economy” have the protections and benefits they need and deserve. Today, New York state is in a position to craft model legislation for the country that responds to the complexities of how internet platforms are used to connect people to work. Businesses should not be allowed to circumvent the standards that New York sets for treatment of full-time and part-time workers by mischaracterizing them as independent contractors.

We hope that New York will not make the same mistakes that California did in failing to carefully define who is covered in their gig worker legislation. There are several major problems with the California law, starting with an oversimplified “ABC” formula that determines who is a “gig worker” and who should be an employee. It potentially captures many situations where individuals have chosen to work as sole proprietors of small businesses. It also may include people who have decided to supplement their income by taking job assignments that are episodic and allow them to perform work on their own schedule and for multiple clients.

We have canvassed our Partnership members and found that many legitimately hire independent contractors, directly or through intermediaries, to carry out auxiliary functions that require special expertise or extra capacity. A California-type solution would disrupt large numbers of these voluntary business arrangements that are important to breadwinners across the state, as well as to their employers.

California law seeks to limit their interference with legitimate independent contracting arrangements by exempting vocations that are not connected to technology platforms. These exemptions include vocations such as insurance agents, certain health care professionals, securities broker-dealers or investment advisors, and cosmetology services. But many or most of these exempted occupations are likely to gravitate toward technology platforms in the future, so trying to define a gig worker by exception does not make sense in our fast-moving economy.

There are also conventional jobs—such as newspaper delivery—that do not belong in the gig category because they are explicitly designed as a source of supplemental income and not as full-time occupations.

On the other hand, there are many technology platforms that provide a marketplace for independent contractors that should not be covered by “gig worker” protections. Examples range from marketplaces like Etsy, which has more than 80,000 New Yorkers using its site to sell products, to platforms that are connecting global networks of experts, software developers, or providers of other professional services. These workers may be available “on demand,” but are clearly not depending on a single client or employer as their source of income and benefits.

As a society, we should be trying to protect gig workers and part-time workers who are not able to protect themselves. On the other hand, we should not be imposing additional costs and regulations that interfere with voluntary business relationships and entrepreneurial activities of New Yorkers who choose to work as independent contractors or sole proprietors.

How do we define a new category of worker who should be protected through legislation? This is a tough question that the Legislature has been struggling to address. The broad generalizations and exceptions that the California law put in place are not working. A better approach might be to consider the number of hours worked or on call (occasional versus substantially full-time over an extended period), the nature of work performed (auxiliary or support services versus core business functions), or the nature and rate of compensation (hourly wage below a certain level versus a fixed compensation for product deliverables). Certainly, the law should not apply to those whose hours of work are de minimis (say, less than 20 hours a week) or where the hourly rate of pay is substantially more than minimum wage.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated about 10% of U.S. workers have alternative arrangements to a typical 9-5 day at one employer as their primary job, including temp agency work, on-call work, contract work and freelancing. However, of all 881,000 independent contractors statewide, including those with a separate full-time job, 614,000, or 70%, are not on-demand workers. If New York is to take regulatory or legislative action in this area, it should be focused on the remaining 30%.

The Partnership and our member companies are prepared to work with the Legislature and interested parties to come with legislation that achieves worker protections while protecting the rights and interests of independent contractors and those who hire them.

Partnership for New York City Opposes Commercial Rent Stabilization

Resource Type: News, Press Releases, Statements

“There are multiple issues placing hardship on neighborhood retailers, most of which are not solved by commercial rent stabilization,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. “Competition from many sources, most notably online retail activity, has cut into the revenues of brick and mortar retail businesses. New mandates imposed by local government have increased the costs of running a business in the city. Changing customer demands have undermined businesses, such as tobacco and newspaper vendors, that have failed to update their product lines. Rising rents are definitely a factor in business closures, but rent increases are at least partly due to escalating city real estate tax assessments that are passed along to tenants. The Council appears to have settled on one causal factor contributing to small business hardship, which is the presumption of landlord greed. This may satisfy their political agenda, but it will not solve the complex problems created by a rapidly changing economy and ill-considered government impositions on the marketplace.”

Constitutional Changes to NY Court System Supported by the Partnership

Resource Type: News, Press Releases, Testimony

Today, the Partnership for New York City delivered testimony before the New York Senate in support of constitutional changes to modernize New York’s court system:

Testimony of Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City

Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary and Assembly Standing Committee on Judiciary

Thank you Chairs Hoylman and Dinowitz and members of the committees for the opportunity to testify on court modernization. The Partnership for New York City represents the employers of more than 1.5 million New Yorkers. We work with government, labor and the civic sector to maintain the city’s position as the pre-eminent global center of commerce, innovation and economic opportunity.

The Partnership strongly supports the constitutional change put forward by Chief Judge DiFiore that would make the structural changes that are necessary to modernize New York’s antiquated and cumbersome court system. Since she took office, Judge DiFiore has done much to improve management of what is the most complex court system in the country. The many accomplishments of the Chief Judge and her team were recognized recently when she became the first public sector manager to be awarded the prestigious Deming Cup by Columbia University Business School.

Unfortunately, provisions of the state constitution place major restrictions on what even the best manager can do to ensure the prompt and fair administration of justice in New York.  Whether it is a business suffering loss from long delays in the case backlog in the commercial court or an inmate at Rikers waiting years for their cases to be heard in criminal court, the current situation is not working for anyone.

Judge DiFiore’s plan relies in part on the work of the Special Commission on the Future of the New York State Courts, appointed by Chief Judge Judith Kaye in 2006, on which I served. We established at that time that the court system must be restructured in order to allow for efficient management and to eliminate duplication of effort. We recommended that the current structure, which is inflexible and difficult to navigate, results in substantial unnecessary costs for all involved, including the taxpayer. In its 2007 report, the Commission estimated that individual and business litigants, employers and municipalities could save $443 million from the type of reforms that Judge DiFiore recommends.

New York has eleven trial courts — three more than any other state. California has only one trial court despite having more than twice the population of New York. Many cases involve trials in several courts, resulting in multiple fees and excessive litigation over questions of jurisdiction.

New York court administration has very limited ability to move judges around to address case load needs in the different courts. This has been a key issue for commercial court litigants, who have increasingly moved their cases to Delaware where a more coherent court structure allows for relatively fast disposition of difficult business disputes. In fact, Delaware has enjoyed significant economic benefits from large commercial cases and legions of lawyers descending on them for timely litigation. This is, almost inevitably, at New York’s expense.

Many of us would welcome amendments that go further, such as the merit appointment of judges. But Judge DiFiore has presented a proposal that is both simple and modest, in order to take the first major step toward a better, more cost-effective and competitive court system.  The Partnership urges the legislature to adopt these long-overdue reforms as soon as possible.

Strengthen Brooklyn with Industry City

Resource Type: News, Op-Eds

By Kathryn Wylde | Empire Report | 10/31/19

This week, Industry City in Sunset Park will begin a rezoning process for the second phase of Brooklyn’s most exciting new center of industrial, retail, and creative artisan activity. Despite opposition from anti-development activists, the project merits prompt approval by the City Planning Commission and City Council.

Formerly known as Bush Terminal, this six million square foot redevelopment of underutilized industrial land and buildings is long overdue. Industry City will bring more than 20,000 new jobs, job training for community residents, and affordable workshop, manufacturing and retail space for hundreds of diverse entrepreneurs and artists. It is already the headquarters and practice center of the Brooklyn Nets and home to an NYU-sponsored business incubator focused on veterans. Its community spaces feature entertainment and enrichment programs for all ages, making for a unique destination that showcases the best of Brooklyn.

Click to read more.

Gig Economy Testimony

Resource Type: News, Testimony

Today, the Partnership for New York City delivered the following testimony to the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Internet and Technology.

The Partnership for New York City represents private sector employers of more than 1.5 million New Yorkers. We work together with government, labor and the nonprofit sector to maintain the city’s position as the preeminent global center of commerce, innovation and economic opportunity.

Thank you, Senator Savino, for your thoughtful approach to ensuring that New Yorkers who earn their living through the so-called “Gig Economy” have the protections and benefits they need and deserve. Today, New York state is in a position to craft model legislation for the country that responds to the complexities of how internet platforms are used to connect people to work. Businesses should not be allowed to circumvent the standards that New York sets for treatment of full-time and part-time workers by mischaracterizing them as independent contractors.

We hope that New York will not make the same mistakes that California did in failing to carefully define who is covered in their gig worker legislation. There are several major problems with the California law, starting with an oversimplified “ABC” formula that determines who is a “gig worker” and who should be an employee. It potentially captures many situations where individuals have chosen to work as sole proprietors of small businesses. It also may include people who have decided to supplement their income by taking job assignments that are episodic and allow them to perform work on their own schedule and for multiple clients.

We have canvassed our Partnership members and found that many legitimately hire independent contractors, directly or through intermediaries, to carry out auxiliary functions that require special expertise or extra capacity. A California-type solution would disrupt large numbers of these voluntary business arrangements that are important to breadwinners across the state, as well as to their employers.

California law seeks to limit their interference with legitimate independent contracting arrangements by exempting vocations that are not connected to technology platforms. These exemptions include vocations such as insurance agents, certain health care professionals, securities broker-dealers or investment advisors, and cosmetology services. But many or most of these exempted occupations are likely to gravitate toward technology platforms in the future, so trying to define a gig worker by exception does not make sense in our fast-moving economy. There are also conventional jobs—such as newspaper delivery—that do not belong in the gig category because they are explicitly designed as a source of supplemental income and not as full-time occupations.

On the other hand, there are many technology platforms that provide a marketplace for independent contractors that should not be covered by “gig worker” protections. Examples range from marketplaces like Etsy, which has more than 80,000 New Yorkers using its site to sell products, to platforms that are connecting global networks of experts, software developers, or providers of other professional services. These workers may be available “on demand,” but are clearly not depending on a single client or employer as their source of income and benefits.

As a society, we should be trying to protect gig workers and part-time workers who are not able to protect themselves. On the other hand, we should not be imposing additional costs and regulations that interfere with voluntary business relationships and entrepreneurial activities of New Yorkers who choose to work as independent contractors or sole proprietors.

How do we define a new category of worker who should be protected through legislation? This is a tough question that the legislature has been struggling to address.  The broad generalizations and exceptions that the California law put in place are not working. A better approach might be to consider the number of hours worked or on call (occasional versus substantially full-time over an extended period), the nature of work performed (auxiliary or support services versus core business functions), or the nature and rate of compensation (hourly wage below a certain level versus a fixed compensation for product deliverables). Certainly, the law should not apply to those whose hours of work are de minimis (say, less than 20 hours a week) or where the hourly rate of pay is substantially more than minimum wage.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated about 10% of U.S. workers have alternative arrangements to a typical 9-5 day at one employer as their primary job, including temp agency work, on-call work, contract work and freelancing.  However, of all 881,000 independent contractors statewide, including those with a separate full-time job, 614,000, or 70%, are not on-demand workers. If New York is to take regulatory or legislative action in this area, it should be focused on the remaining 30%.

The Partnership and our member companies are prepared to work with the legislature and interested parties to come with legislation that achieves worker protections while protecting the rights and interests of independent contractors and those who hire them.

 

Better Priorities for Bill de Blasio

Resource Type: News, Op-Eds

To the Editor:

Re: “Bill de Blasio Needs to Get to Work” ( New York Times editorial, Oct. 7):

It is hard to disagree with the call for the mayor to refocus on local problems after his withdrawal from the presidential race. But the editorial board’s agenda for the balance of the mayor’s term is pretty one-sided.

You urge expanded investment in affordable housing, public hospitals, safer streets and other worthy causes. But what about fiscal challenges, unfunded pension and health care benefits due public employees, and mounting debt?

Read more.

Statement on the MTA Board’s Capital Plan Approval

Resource Type: News, Press Releases, Statements

“The MTA Board’s unanimous approval of a $51.5 billion, five year capital plan signals consensus on a program that, when successfully implemented, will dramatically improve our regional transit system. We congratulate the MTA leadership and Governor Cuomo for laying out clear priorities and the funding commitments required to achieve them. Through the Transit Innovation Partnership, the business community is working closely with the Governor and the MTA to ensure that New York becomes the global leader in public transportation. Nothing is more important to New York’s economic well-being,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

Statement on the MTA’s Proposed 2020-2024 Capital Plan

Resource Type: News, Press Releases, Statements

“Today, the MTA has laid out a clear agenda for capital investment over the next five years that is required to achieve a world class transit system. The business community is heartened by what is clearly an acceleration in upgrades of services, equipment and accessibility and will put its expertise and resources to work in support of this plan,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

 

Partnership for NYC Responds to MTA Debarment Proposal

Resource Type: News, Press Releases

The Partnership for New York City submitted the following comments to the MTA in response to far-reaching proposed regulations on the debarment of contractors.

The Partnership for New York City is compelled to comment on proposed regulations promulgated pursuant to Section 1279-h of the Public Authorities Law, enacted as part of the 2020 budget. Typically, we would defer to industry experts to argue the details of regulations, but this is a case where poorly conceived regulations will almost certainly present a significant obstacle to necessary improvements in our regional transportation infrastructure and, consequently, result in a negative impact on the economy of the city and state.

In short, the regulations make the risk associated with winning an MTA contract so extreme that responsible contractors are highly unlikely to bid. The unilateral risks imposed on contractors by these draft regulations are both substantive and political. The substantive risks relate to the fact that the MTA both defines the terms of contracts and change orders and is the sole arbiter in the event of disputes. The political risk is that the MTA is effectively controlled by the Governor and other elected officials who appoint its board and control its funding. For a contractor bidding on a large MTA procurement, these combined risk factors, under the terms of the proposed regulations, are impossible to effectively manage. As a result, responsible contractors are unlikely to participate in MTA procurement and the result will be the inability of the MTA to complete essential transportation infrastructure projects.

It is clear that some action was required to ensure that the MTA and its projects are not held captive by relatively few large vendors and contractors who are willing and able to do business with the authority. The threat of debarment for verified poor performance is a reasonable condition of procurement contracts. But the proposed regulations impose conditions that are impossible for responsible vendors and contractors to fulfill since a failure on the part of the MTA to perform its side of the contractual obligations is not accounted for. Unfortunately, it is the experience of virtually all MTA contractors that the authority is likely to be the primary source of time delays and cost overruns on major projects.

The transformation process being undertaken by the MTA, pursuant to the state budget, promises to result in more predictable costs and improved project management. This should result in more competition for MTA procurements and better performance by both the agency and its vendors. Unfortunately, as written, the proposed regulations on debarment threaten the progress toward a more efficient and predictable procurement process and better cost controls.

The Partnership urges the MTA Board to work with industry and business experts to adjust the proposed regulations on debarment to standards that improve performance without jeopardizing the authority’s ability to secure solid and competitive contracts. The Partnership would be willing to identify experts to help in this process and to develop regulations that protect the public interest while encouraging participation by top-quality contractors and vendors.