Transit systems nationwide are exploring technological advancements as they continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What’s been most exciting is building partnerships within and beyond the big agencies,” said Natalia Quintero, the new senior vice president of innovation at the Partnership for New York City. She is responsible for leading the Transit Innovation Partnershipwith the Metropolitan Transportation Authority other regional agencies, and developing other related public-private initiatives.
Under the TIP’s three-year-old Transit Tech Lab accelerator program, of which Quintero was founding director, companies have the opportunity to pilot their technologies with the MTA.
Public transit has played a critical role in the transport of essential workers throughout the pandemic — and it will be critical to New York’s recovery.
In 2020 the Transit Innovation Partnership partnered with the MTA, Port Authority, NYC DOT and NJ TRANSIT to make transit safer and empower customers.
In July 2020 our Transit Tech Lab introduced the COVID-19 Response Challenge in partnership with five regional transit agencies, drawing nearly 200 submissions in the competition. From October to December, transit agencies completed proofs of concept with eight of the most promising technologies, ranging from air filtration to micromobility integration. In 2021, transit agencies will select the most promising technologies for yearlong pilots.
In the spring of 2020, the Transit Tech Lab completed the second annual transit innovation program. Through the pandemic, eight companies worked closely with agencies across New York and New Jersey, to offer solutions that have the potential to improve accessibility or traffic congestion for millions of daily travelers.
During this unprecedented time, the lab remained committed to supporting transit agencies and front-line workers.
In late October of 2020, eight companies were selected from nearly 200 global applicants to implement their innovative tools to create a healthier transit network as part of the Transit Tech Lab’s COVID-19 Response Challenge. Over eight weeks these companies worked with the MTA, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and NJ TRANSIT on proofs of concepts that showed promising results. Solutions range from micromobility and improved air filtration to new cleaning solutions for facilities, buses and subway cars. Learn about their progress below
The Transit Innovation Partnership and partner agencies Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT and NYC Dept. of Education today announced eight finalists for the COVID-19 Response Challenge, a global competition calling for technologies to increase public transit safety and responsiveness in the midst of the pandemic. Selected out of nearly 200 applicants, the eight companies will now implement their innovative solutions across the NYC-area agencies for rapid evaluation. If successful, companies may be chosen for a year-long pilot to deploy their tools at scale.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Transit Innovation Partnership have launched a pilot program that allows blind and low-vision bus riders to use their smartphones to find bus stops and learn of arrival times. With assistance from the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), signs along the M23 SBS bus route display decals that allow for use of a new app.
The NaviLens app, which can be downloaded on Android or iOS devices, uses a cutting-edge algorithm to translate visual signage into audio and allows customers to determine the accurate location and distance to the nearest bus stop, find out when the next bus will arrive, know how crowded the bus is (if the necessary sensor technology is onboard), and be directed onto the bus when it pulls up to the stop.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials today launched the new digital "Live Subway Map,” a first of its kind guide to navigating the subway system in real time. The new map, which allows riders to plan trips more easily by taking into account service changes and seeing train movements as they happen, is the byproduct of an 18 month-long public-private partnership between the MTA, the Transit Innovation Partnership and Brooklyn-based global design and technology firm Work & Co. Currently in its beta phase, the map which can be accessed at map.mta.info, will ultimately replace The Weekender and will serve as the primary interactive means for moving around the subway system.
The ambitious project marks the subway map’s first major redesign in four decades, replacing the iconic design by Unimark International and Michael Hertz Associates seen widely on printed maps today. The Live Subway Map beta merges the best features of the existing printed map with the distinctive “Vignelli” approach of The Weekender by overlaying clear and detailed track routes atop a geographically-correct street grid that becomes more detailed as the user zooms in.
Work & Co designed and developed the web-based digital tool on a completely pro bono basis with the goal of making the lives of New Yorkers easier. Highly customer friendly, the map allows customers to navigate the system in an intuitive and digital way. Customers will no longer have to read through printed station signage to determine how they should travel throughout the system.
In another first, the Live Subway Map beta shows the locations of trains as they move along the system in real time.
Today, the Partnership for New York City submitted the following testimony on the impact of COVID-19 on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and public transportation to the New York State Legislature.
Thank you chairs Kennedy, Comrie and Paulin for hosting this hearing on the future of the MTA in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The Partnership for New York City represents private sector employers of more than 1.5 million New Yorkers. We work with government, labor and the nonprofit sector to maintain the city’s position as the preeminent global center of commerce, innovation and economic opportunity.
A modern and efficient public transit system is essential to our city and region’s economic recovery and future growth. We have continually and actively advocated for federal funding to fill the huge revenue losses the system has experienced due to the pandemic, but so far only a quarter of what is needed has been forthcoming. Without federal action on the $12 billion the MTA says it needs to get through 2021, there is no way the agency can remove itself out of what Chairman Foye has called a “fiscal tsunami.”
Challenge calls for technologies to make public transit safer, cleaner and more adaptive as New York gets back to work
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Transit Innovation Partnership today launched a new “COVID-19 Response Challenge” to engage the private tech industry and rapidly evaluate and deploy innovative technologies that make public transit safer, healthier and more responsive to customer and workforce needs in light of the global pandemic.
"To truly modernize every element of how we run our transit system, you have to look far and wide for new ideas," said Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg. "That means tapping into the city's robust entrepreneurial and technology scenes and thinking in new ways about how a vital institution like New York City Transit can embrace innovation in everything it does."
New York isn’t exactly known for a speedy procurement process, or for taking chances on granting state contracts to small companies. But when faced with a global pandemic that threatens the future of public transit, fast-moving startups with innovative solutions may be just what the doctor ordered.
The Transit Tech Lab – an accelerator program for technology startups aimed at solving public transit issues – launched a new, coronavirus-specific challenge on Wednesday, which asks for innovative approaches to make public transit safer as riders return to subways and buses. Those proposals could eventually be piloted and implemented with the MTA, as well as with other participating agencies, including the New York City Department of Transportation, NJ Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "To truly modernize every element of how we run our transit system, you have to look far and wide for new ideas," interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg said in a press release. "That means tapping into the city's robust entrepreneurial and technology scenes and thinking in new ways about how a vital institution like New York City Transit can embrace innovation."