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Underground Music: This Awesome App Won New York's Public Transit Hackathon

If you've taken the subway in New York recently, you've surely seen the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's new slogan: "Improving, non-stop."
In that spirt, the MTA has been making an admirable effort to make riders' lives better by embracing new technology. More than 30 stations now have WiFi available (and cell service coming too!), and there are plans to get the remaining stations wired within the next five years.
More connectivity also means more opportunity for creative apps to improve the transit system. These, the MTA decided to crowdsource.
Enter the MTA App Quest Hackathon, held this past weekend in Brooklyn. Seventeen applicants competed for $10,000 in prizes, and a bunch of creative ideas came out of the competition.
The first-place winner was SubCulture.FM, an app to help bring buskers—the musicians who perform in subway stations for tips—out from the underground. It's really pretty awesome. You can look at a map of the city, click on specific stations, and see the name and bio of the artists performing there. You can then listen to a demo of the music and even purchase the single. You can also browse a directory of artists to find where someone is playing.
The second-place prize went to an app called MTA Sheriff, which allows riders to send reports about current conditions or concerns on the train. And in third place was Accessway, a transit app for the visually impaired. Check out the full list of app ideas from the hackathon.
Needless to say, New Yorkers have their own ideas about how to improve the city's transit system. Here are a few, from AM New York:
Josh Oswald and Reed Jackson, who run the MTA Twitter parody account @FakeMTA:
"My dream app would be a voice-changing app that makes everything you say sound like the Stand Clear of The Closing Doors Guy," Oswald said.
"It would of course have no practical use, but it would be great to walk around the city, ordering slices in that guy's voice."
Reed added: "My dream app would be something along the lines of a delay explainer: You type in the train or bus, and it gives you an explanation of why it's so late. 'A jacka -- with a green messenger bag blocked the doors of the fifth car three times in succession.' "
Ben Widdicombe, editor-in-chief of Gilt City: "I want an app that can reserve the seat closest to the door on an empty bench of three seats, like Open Table."
What's the transit app of your dreams?
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Image via (cc) flickr user BhushaNYC\n

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