COVID-19 Response Challenge

How can we make transit safer, healthier and more responsive amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unprecedented challenges in public transit. As New York recovers and rebuilds, it is vital to reimagine public transit to meet its new challenges. The COVID-19 Response Challenge called for technologies and approaches that help to make New York's public transportation system safer, healthier and more responsive to customer and workforce needs.

See more program results

Challenge Finalists


About the Finalists



Micromobility company featuring a folding electric bike and an electric scooter that aims to integrate with public transit

Results: Beyond demonstrated how e-bikes and e-scooters could be safely mobilized on public transit.

Partner Agency: New York City Transit (MTA)



In-duct HVAC units that work with ambient air to create oxidizing molecules

Results: Four CASPR 2500 units were installed in a R188 train car. Units were powered on to prove connection and remained intact while in service. An independent laboratory was contracted to conduct OSHA tests on the product.

Partner Agency: New York City Transit (MTA)



Software provides passengers and transit operators with predicted capacity levels for every transit vehicle, at any specified date and time

Results: CitySwift successfully ingested six-weeks of bus data from two bus depots. CitySwift demonstrated how their platform can predict bus route capacity and run times, monitor performance, and optimize timetables.

Partner Agency: New York City Transit (MTA)



Proprietary colorized powder formula that is dissolved into existing liquid bleach disinfectant to visualize surface coverage

Results: Kinnos conducted a three-week test using ATP bioluminescence to sample 15 high touch surfaces in a Port Authority facility bathroom. The study included a comparison of bleach alone vs. bleach and Kinnos Highlight®. With the Kinnos additive, they reported a 63% improvement in disinfection coverage.

Partner Agency: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey



HVAC company with air filtration and purification solution

Results: Knorr conducted periodic air quality measurements on MNR rolling stock and confirmed 0ppm ozone and no anomalies in air quality.

Partner Agencies: New York City Transit (MTA), Metro-North Railroad (MTA), NJ TRANSIT



Social distancing solution for both passengers and transit staff

Results: Piper temporarily installed solid state LiDAR units at each end of a PATH PA5 train car. Eight wayside receivers were also installed in four PATH stations to collect the data from the LiDAR. The team processed the data from the wayside receiver to the cloud to enable train car occupancy measurements in real time.

Partner Agencies: NJ TRANSIT, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey



Offers a wearable technology that promotes worker safety and social distancing

Results: Strongarm provided information about FUSE sensors, which facilitate social distancing. When two wearers are within 6 feet or less of each other, the FUSE sensor will provide real-time feedback to employees to promote distance correction.

Partner Agency: NJ TRANSIT



Uses non-UV light to remove bacteria from surfaces

Results: Vyv installed three anti-microbial light fixtures at NJ TRANSIT headquarters. The light fixtures offer continuous killing of organisms, while spaces are actively used and requires no additional intervention.

Partner Agency: NJ TRANSIT

How the Transit Tech Lab Works

The Transit Tech Lab enables public transit agencies to rapidly test and deploy innovative approaches to address top-priority challenges. As the New York region prepares to reopen, ensuring the safety and health of all who use and run public transit is critical. The Transit Tech Lab's COVID-19 Challenge provided an opportunity for innovative companies to submit their technologies to subject matter experts in transit, health and technology. 



Transit agency participants in the COVID-19 Response Challenge include: 

  • Metro-North Railroad (MTA)
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  • New York City Department of Education, Office of Pupil Transportation
  • New York City Department of Transportation
  • New York City Transit (MTA)
  • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey



Application Deadline: August 19, 2020
Semifinalist Presentations: September 15-17, 2020
Finalist Demo Day: September 18, 2020
Proof of Concept Begins: October 19, 2020
Pilot Starts: February 8, 2021



In addition to transit agency subject matter experts, private sector and public health evaluators for the challenge include:

Reilly Brennan, General Partner, Trucks Venture Capital
Clara Brenner, Managing Partner, Urban Innovation Fund
Kenneth A. Bronfin, Senior Managing Director & Head of International Investments, Hearst Ventures
Kathryn Cleary, Senior Vice President, U.S. Business Development, Mastercard
Nick Grossman, Partner, Union Square Ventures
Hilary Gosher, Managing Director, Insight Partners
Maria Gotsch, President & CEO, Partnership Fund for New York City
Leslie Henshaw, Partner, Deerfield
Dylan Hixon, President, Arden Road Investments
Peter Muennig, Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Brian Yormak, Partner, Story Ventures



Frequently Asked Questions

Reopening New York: New York State Public Transportation Guidelines (PDF)

WSP Report on COVID-19 Practices (PDF)

More questions? Email


Transit Tech Lab Challenges

Partnership for New York City logo
Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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