What’s the next big technology for transit?

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Wireless and cell service is appearing in more underground train stations. Riders can't wait for countdown clocks on the lettered lines.

There's supposed to be a payment app for ticket purchases on LIRR and Metro-North coming next year.

The MTA and tech companies are looking ahead to the next big thing.

AT&T New York State President Marissa Shorenstein announces the 3rd Annual "App Quest." Along with the MTA and Transit Wireless, which is the company installing underground wi-fi and cell service, they're calling on developers to come up with the next generation wayfinding applications.

"We’re challenging developers from across the globe to use MTA’s broad set of data and APIs – including some brand new, exclusive data – to create apps that will wow New Yorkers and the world," says the App Quest announcement. At&T promises $50,000 in prize money.

One possibility would use beacon technology (and the new underground wi-fi) to help riders pinpoint their exact location underground. The beacons would communicate with apps that users installed on their phones.

This year, organizers are urging developers to focus their efforts on disabled riders, including by taking advantage of new technology being tested in Grand Central Terminal that can pinpoint the exact location of a mobile user “down to the foot,” says MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast.

Transit Wireless is on schedule to have all stations wired by 2017. Stations have to be wired and connected to technology hubs in the boroughs.

Countdown clocks will start appearing on the lettered lines in 3 to 5 years. The infrastructure is not yet in place along those lines (as it is along the numbered lines).

A replacement for the MetroCard is expected after 2019.