Use technology to improve transportation operations and service while being inclusive of non-connected employees

November 2, 2020



Communications, Process Improvement, Digitization, Education, Digital Divide, Equity

Procurement Method:

Application Period:

October 6, 2020


November 2, 2020

Q&A Period:

October 6, 2020 - October 19, 2020

University Partner:


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is seeking an inclusive solution to improve operations and service while closing the digital divide for our employees without much experience with technology.


The MBTA has 6,500 employees, about 3,000+ of whom are bus and subway/light rail drivers. Those employees do not have email addresses and must find out internal information via posted notices on bulletin boards. We are also building out an intranet. Some of these employees eventually advance to become "Inspectors," who have email addresses. Those inspectors do not receive much foundational technology training even though we have online classes available in our learning management system. 

The opportunities to improve how they engage with technology to execute their jobs are immense and would improve the efficiency of our operations and transportation service. They would also improve individuals' performance, possibly leading to increased diversity at leadership levels. 

These 3,000 employees are not obligated to use their personal smartphones to receive notifications or messages. Further, some employees do not have smartphones or even cell phones. These constraints make it particularly difficult to move the entirety of the MBTA forward digitally.

How might we improve operations and service using technology while being inclusive of these non-connected employees?

Academic research teams will have access to:

  • MBTA Product Manager 
  • Quarterly employee-engagement survey data
  • Employee interviews 
  • Possible joint research with the City of Detroit


Requirements & Outcomes

MBTA seeks the following outcomes: 

  • Theory to understand how organizations can stay connected across connected and non-connected employees.
  • Strategies and tactics to Integrate our non-connected employees into our technical platforms.
  • Understanding the levels of technical knowledge that would benefit employees at various stages of their MBTA careers.
  • Understand which technical skills will most likely support improving operations and transportation service.
  • Suggested technical educational activities for our non-connected employees to encourage self-driven interest to up-skill. 
  • Understanding of the ROI on technology training for employees.
  • Understand why employees do/don't develop technical proficiency on software related to their job.

STIR Labs Research Challenges Published

Learn how you can tackle the challenges at our informational webinar