May 17, 2020

MTA Launches New ‘Essential Connector’ App to Move Essential Workers During Overnight Subway Closure

New App Pilot Set to Help 11,000 Essential Workers Plan Alternative Travel During MTA Essential Plan Night Service, With Bus Ridership Increasing Up to 76%

App Supplements MTA’s ‘Essential Connector’ website (mta.info/overnight) and Call Center for Essential Workers to Plan Their Travel 

Download the App at the Apple App Store or Google Play 

View Photos of the New App Here  

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today launched the ‘Essential Connector’ app to help essential workers plan their alternative travel to or from work during the overnight subway closure from 1 to 5 a.m. Essential workers can use the new app to navigate and take advantage of the MTA’s dramatically enhanced bus service schedule – a 76% increase in overnight trips and 150% boost in the operational fleet – or book an eligible for-hire-vehicle where bus service is not workable at no cost.  

The new app supplements the impressive work done by MTA’s internal team to launch the Essential Connector program on May 6, 2020, just days after the overnight closure of the subway was announced. Tapping a station on the new app’s map allows the user to see live bus and train departures, including the last train arrivals of the night and available buses nearby. The app will provide info on current service disruptions and upcoming service changes. Over time the map will become “personalized,” highlighting the stops the user visits most often, making trip planning faster and easier than ever before. Following feedback, the MTA is already working on a second version of the app. The Essential Connector app is now available for download at the Apple App Store or on Google Play.  

"Disinfecting trains every 24 hours is critically important to the health and safety of our riders, but in closing the system for four hours each night we knew we couldn't leave overnight essential workers without options,” said NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg. “Together with our partner Axon Vibe, the New York City Transit team designed and built an app that will help those workers find available buses and other needed transportation. These are immensely challenging times, but I’m proud of our team for moving so quickly to build a user-friendly app that delivers for New Yorkers who rely on mass transit in the overnight hours.”  

"This crisis requires the MTA and transit agencies across the country to be resourceful and to look to nontraditional sources for solutions,” said MTA Chief Innovation Officer Mark Dowd.  “I am enormously proud of our agency's ability to move quickly to internally create an innovative technology solution in a matter of days to protect our essential workers and help them get to work between 1 to 5 a.m. Our partnership with Axon Vibe is an example of how MTA can bring in a technology provider to supplement the internal work we did to get this program in place. I am also excited that our solution focuses on giving the for-hire-vehicle work to local businesses such as yellow cabs and local car services.”  

"The Transit Innovation Partnership was created in response to Governor Cuomo's call for the best innovations to solve the biggest challenges in public transit. This mission is more important than ever, " said Transit Innovation Partnership Executive Director Rachel Haot. "We are honored to partner with the MTA and Transit Tech Lab graduate AxonVibe to serve New York City's heroic essential workers."  

Since May 6, overnight subway service has been suspended from 1 to 5 a.m. as the MTA undertakes the most aggressive disinfecting and cleaning program in agency history.  The MTA is also leveraging and evaluating innovative new cleaning solutions such as antimicrobial biostats and ultraviolet light to eradicate the COVID-19 virus.  The MTA has significantly enhanced bus service on 61 bus lines during this time, including 11 interborough express routes with additional stops (five routes in the Bronx, three each in Brooklyn and Queens), and 13 new routes that normally don’t offer overnight service (17 in Brooklyn, 13 in Queens, 10 each in the Bronx and Manhattan) under the new MTA Essential Plan Night Service. Thirty-seven routes have added overnight service. The MTA is closely monitoring ridership to add additional service as needed.  

To complement these robust investments in bus service, the MTA has also launched the “Essential Connector” program. Essential workers are eligible for one free trip in a for-hire-vehicle per night if a bus trip would: 

  • take more than 1 hour and 20 minutes, or 
  • require more than two transfers, or 
  • require a walk of more than a half mile to or from a bus stop. 

The MTA “Essential Connector” Call Center, (718) 330-1234, and Essential Connector website, mta.info/overnight, will continue to provide convenient and accessible options for essential workers. Essential workers are also encouraged to register for the “Essential Connector” program via the app or the web to provide MTA a better understanding of how essential workers are planning their trips during the shutdown of subway service.  

The Essential Connector App is the product of a partnership between MTA, the Transit Innovation Partnership and Axon Vibe, one of the many startups that MTA is successfully integrating into its operations to bring innovative approaches to the MTA. As part of the plan to shut down late night subway service, MTA asked Axon Vibe to work with them to create the “Essential Connector” app in under a week. Axon Vibe is one of the four finalists selected for the inaugural class of Transit Tech Lab following a global competition in fall of 2018, in which nearly 100 companies participated.  Prior to creating the Essential Connector App, Axon Vibe was working with the MTA and the Transit Tech Lab on testing how their smartphone app technology could improve service and customer communications by enabling the MTA to deliver personalized communications based on the commuting behavior of users who opt into that service.  In the event of service changes, the MTA would be able to proactively notify the impacted users (taking into consideration their location and other context) and provide alternative transportation suggestions based on riders’ anticipated destination and commuting preferences. 

April 3, 2020

MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership Announce Signaling Challenge Virtual Demo Day

17 Companies Virtually Demonstrate Cutting-Edge Technology to Re-Signal New York City’s Century-Old Subway System

The MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership hosted the Signaling Challenge Virtual Demo Day on April 2, a digital event in which 17 leading technology companies presented proposals to MTA officials for modernizing New York City’s century-old subway signaling system, via more than 150 video conference presentations and Q&A sessions. 

The Virtual Demo Day was part of the MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership’s Signaling Challenge, which is enlisting the world’s top transportation technology innovators to identify ways to make existing subway cars compatible with new signaling technology as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. The progress of this initiative reflects the MTA’s commitment to execute on long-term modernization plans while simultaneously addressing a major public health and service delivery emergency.

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February 27, 2020

Nine Start-Ups Selected to Bring Cutting-Edge Technology to MTA and Other New York Area Transportation Agencies

Start-Ups to Pilot New Technologies to Make Transportation More Accessible, Reduce Curb Congestion and Provide More Amenities to Transit Customers

The Partnership for New York City’s Transit Tech Lab, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and four other transportation agencies announced today that nine start-up companies have been selected to pilot cutting-edge technologies that could improve accessibility, revenue generation, and traffic congestion for millions of daily travelers in the New York metropolitan area. The agencies joining the MTA in this initiative are the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York City Department of Transportation, NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak.

The Transit Tech Lab is part of the public-private Transit Innovation Partnership and enables the MTA and other public transportation agencies to leverage innovative technology solutions to improve metropolitan area transit, with the aim to make New York the global leader in public transportation.

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December 10, 2019

MTA, Transit Innovation Partnership & Empire State Development Announce Signaling Challenge & Demo Day at Signaling Innovation Summit

Selected Innovators Invited to Demonstrate Cutting-Edge Technology at Demo Day March 13

As Part of Historic Capital Plan, MTA to Begin Soliciting Bids in Second Half of 2020 for $7.1 Billion Signaling Modernization Program Unprecedented in Size and Scope

Approximately 100 Companies from Four Continents Attend Symposium and Compete to Accelerate Modernization of New York City Transit’s Signaling System

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Transit Innovation Partnership and Empire State Development today hosted a Signaling Innovation Summit to bring together the best and brightest innovators to accelerate the modernization of New York City’s subway signaling system – a $7.1 billion program unprecedented in size and scope – and improve performance, service reliability and safety for 5.7 million daily customers.

The MTA and the Transit Innovation Partnership also announced a new signaling challenge to identify ways to make existing subway cars compatible with new signaling technology faster and at a lower cost. Selected companies will have the opportunity to present at the MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership’s Demo Day on March 13, 2020.

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December 3, 2019

Deadline Tomorrow: Transit Tech Lab Accelerator with Leading Transit Agencies

Apply by December 4, 2019 for a chance to pilot technologies with the MTA, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York City Department of Transportation, New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak

Learn more at transitinnovation.org

The Transit Tech Lab – an innovation and technology accelerator project designed to use private sector expertise to help modernize the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and now other transit agencies as well – is reminding potential applicants that tomorrow is the deadline for its latest initiative.

Applicants to this year’s Transit Tech Lab, which takes selected startups from pitch to pilot in less than six months, get the opportunity to partner with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York City Department of Transportation, New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak in addition to the MTA, the Lab’s founding agency.  Last year’s Transit Tech Lab focused on the MTA only.  This year’s expanded partnership supports a more unified approach to introducing transit innovation.

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November 4, 2019

Calling All Founders

By Fred Wilson, avc.com

NYC’s Partnership runs some outstanding accelerator programs.

There is the flagship Fintech Accelerator which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. In this program, founders are connected to the CIOs of the top banks, brokerages, and insurance companies in NYC as they work on their products and pitches. Over the past decade, 69 graduates of the Fintech Accelerator have raised over $1bn. I have written about this program frequently. It is an example of something that you could not do anywhere other than NYC.

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October 15, 2019

Transit Tech Lab Seeks New Solutions to Transportation Challenges

Port Authority, NJ TRANSIT, Amtrak and City Agencies Join MTA in Regional Innovation Effort 

Learn more at transitinnovation.org; Apply by November 30, 2019  

Today, the MTA and the Partnership for New York City announced the second round of the Transit Tech Lab, an accelerator program that allows the MTA and other public transportation agencies to explore innovative, private sector solutions to challenges they face in operating the region’s subway, bus and commuter rail services.  The program has quickly put New York at the forefront of the emerging field of transit tech, which promises to transform customer experience, reduce commuting times and make it far easier to effectively manage complex transit systems. 

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October 14, 2019

Meet the Smart Cities Summit speakers, Part 3: Natalia Quintero, Director of City of New York Transit Tech Lab

Smart Cities Summit is the go-to event for the government and technology decision-makers creating America’s future smart cities.

The third speaker in this 3-part series is Natalia Quintero, Director at City of New York Transit Tech Lab.

Tell us about your role.

As director of the Transit Tech Lab, an accelerator program for start-ups solving public transportation challenges, I foster collaboration between mobility innovators and leaders at the MTA. Our goal is to help shape the future of transit in New York City.

Can you explain a little further about the formation of Transit Tech Lab as part of the City of New York?

The Transit Tech Lab is part of a public-private partnership between the Transit Innovation Partnership, which was launched by the Partnership for New York City, and the MTA. The partnership was formed in response to the crisis faced by the New York City transit system in 2017. Through this collaboration, New York’s business community is able to work with the MTA to ensure that our city becomes the global leader in public transportation. Nothing is more important to New York’s economic well-being.

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October 8, 2019

Startups Partner with MTA for First-Ever Transit Tech Lab

A group of tech startups is working with the MTA and Partnership for New York City, to fix the Big Apple’s transit troubles. The first-ever Transit Tech Lab is taking on subway and bus challenges to make commuting less chaotic. Maddie Orton reports.

September 20, 2019

MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership Announce Signal Innovation Collaboration and Bidding Conference

Conference Will Solicit Cutting Edge Ideas for Re-Signaling New York City Subways; Build on Successful Public-Private Initiative with Transit Innovation Partnership

MTA Also Announces University Partnership for Adaptive Technologies and Mass Transit Innovation

The MTA and the Transit Innovation Partnership today announced a new collaborative effort exploring signal modernization that will include co-hosting a bidding conference to solicit technological innovations and proposals for reimagining the MTA’s signal systems. The announcement builds on the MTA’s ongoing association with the Transit Innovation Partnership — a public-private initiative between the MTA and the Partnership for New York City with the mission of making New York the global leader in public transit technologies — and comes just days after the release of the 2020-2024 MTA Capital Plan. The MTA Capital Plan calls for more than $50 billion in critical infrastructure and modernization investments, including $7 billion that would go directly towards using the latest technology to re-signal six lines in the New York City subway system.

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