Winning the Genius Transit Challenge

Craig Avedisian (LAW’93) has a plan to fix NYC’s failing MTA subway

November 26, 2018
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When he arrived at the launch of the Genius Transit Challenge, Craig Avedisian felt like David in a midtown Manhattan ballroom full of Goliaths. The contest, with total prize money of $3 million, was open to anyone with ideas for improving New York City’s antiquated, maddeningly slow, miserably overcrowded, chronically underfunded, debt-ridden subway system. Outsiders were welcome. No idea was too crazy.

CEOs of transportation companies had jetted in from Paris, London, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. They talked in their own lingo about dwell times and forced block signaling. The ballroom’s preferred seating rows filled up with teams from multibillion-dollar transportation titans Bombardier (66,000 employees), Bechtel (50,000), and Beijing-based CRRC (183,000), merely the world’s largest supplier of rail transit equipment.

Then there was Avedisian…

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Winning the Genius Transit Challenge

  • Sara Rimer

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Sara Rimer

    Sara Rimer spent 26 years as a reporter at the New York Times, where she wrote about education, the death penalty, immigration, and aging in America, and was the New England bureau chief. The Times nominated her for the Pulitzer Prize. Her coverage of the death penalty was cited by the Supreme Court in its landmark 2002 ruling outlawing the execution of developmentally disabled individuals. She began her career as a reporter at the Miami Herald and also worked at the Washington Post. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in American Studies. Profile

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