Galway’s CitySwift takes its transport tech to New York

31 Jan 2022

Brian O'Rourke and Alan Farrelly, co-founders of CitySwift. Image: Boyd Challenger

The Irish start-up has been chosen to take part in a one-year pilot to make New York’s transport system more efficient.

Galway-based transport data company CitySwift is partnering with the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), North America’s largest public transport operator.

The Irish company is one of three selected to take part in the Covid-19 challenge from MTA’s Transit Tech Lab, a public-private initiative that aims to make New York’s transport networks safer and more efficient.

CitySwift uses AI and machine learning to predict journey times and passenger demand across urban bus networks. It creates optimised timetables that take into account traffic, events and other external factors to ensure efficiency and increased passenger satisfaction.

Last year, it struck a deal to roll out its tech with National Express West Midlands, the UK’s largest transport operator outside of London.

Brian O’Rourke, CitySwift co-founder and CEO, said his company is “incredibly excited to be helping the MTA embrace data in smart, innovative ways to improve bus services and support Covid-19 recovery in New York City”.

“As new mobility patterns emerge, there is a lot to learn from big data about changing trends and how best to plan and shape bus services for the future,” he added.

“Data has the power to transform the economics of the bus sector and help attract a new generation of passengers. It’s the key to delivering frequent, fast, reliable services that meet the needs of the modern bus user and offer an attractive, affordable and sustainable alternative to the private car.”

The MTA’s Covid-19 challenge received applications from more than 200 private companies. CitySwift will work closely with the MTA and non-profit organisation Partnership for New York City as part of a year-long pilot aiming to improve passenger experience and reduce carbon emissions.

The company’s tech platform will be used to predict bus capacities and run times. It will also optimise timetables, and track, monitor and automatically report network performance across Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

In Brooklyn, CitySwift’s AI-based capacity prediction technology will be used to share accurate stop-by-stop capacity levels with bus users for every vehicle, for any specific date and time up to two weeks in advance.

“The MTA is exploring every avenue to be in a better position to welcome back New Yorkers as they return to public transit, including looking to great ideas from the private sector,” said Michael Wojnar, MTA senior adviser for innovation and policy.

“These pilots are promising because they may help the MTA improve the customer experience and increase sustainable options to ensure a smoother and more efficient journey.”

CitySwift has raised around €3.5m since its founding in 2016. Its Irish backers include Enterprise Ireland, the Western Development Commission, Act Venture Capital, Irelandia Investment and former CarTrawler CEO Mike McGearty.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.