Accessibility Challenge

How can we make New York’s public transit system more accessible?

Today, New York’s transit system can be challenging for disabled customers: Only 25% of subway stations are wheelchair accessible and information is often communicated exclusively via visual signage or audio announcements. As reflected by the 2020-2024 Capital Program, the MTA is committed to improving accessibility for all.

With this Transit Tech Lab challenge, the MTA is sought technology that can enhance accessibility to better serve customers with special needs, including those with auditory, visual, mobility and mental impairments, the elderly and child caregivers. 

Challenge Finalists


About the Finalists


Acoustic Protocol

Converts audio announcements into personalized, text-based messages to improve public transit accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing customers

Results: Metro-North Railroad installed the Acoustic Protocol hearoes solution, which processed over 300 daily public announcements and automatically translated them to text. The text announcements can be viewed in the publicly available hearoes smartphone app.




Provides predictive elevator and escalator maintenance tools that enable any elevator or escalator to be digitized and its status instantly updated online

Results: Knaq’s hardware was installed at Newark International Airport and the Fulton Street subway station. It collected status data on three elevators and two escalators. The company provided current, historical and summary data via a dashboard. During the program, Knaq demonstrated its ability to push maintenance alerts and recommendations. This enables improved operational awareness, maintenance, and overall uptime for elevators and escalators across the system, supporting accessibility and service goals.




Uses computer vision algorithm to provide navigation guidance in any space without use of GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi or cell coverage

Results: NaviLens created more than 30 unique codes for installation on M23 crosstown bus stops. In partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation, New York City Transit successfully installed decals at 12 bus stops along the M23 crosstown bus route. Users who download the NaviLens app will be able to see real-time MTA bus arrival data and service status information. NaviLens supports the mobility of customers with visual, audio, or navigation impairments.




Smartphone app that provides transit system navigation for customers who are disabled

Results: Okeenea installed and implemented Evelity, an indoor GPS app for visually and audio impaired riders, at the Jay Street-Metro Tech subway station. Construction teams installed 41 beacons covering 50,000 square feet. MTA staff continues to test Evelity in the field, as user testing was delayed by the ridership downturn.


Transit Tech Lab Challenges

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Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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