May 9, 2023

Regional Transportation Agencies Test New Tech to Improve Operations, Employee Retention and Recruitment

Proofs of concept will leverage AI, LiDAR, and edge computing to improve transit operations

Today, the Transit Tech Lab—a public-private initiative created by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Partnership for New York City to  introduce public transportation agencies in the New York City region to growth-stage private sector firms with innovative solutions—announced that 15 companies have been selected to collaborate with regional transit agencies to test technologies designed to enhance operational performance and improve employee retention and recruitment.

The Operational Efficiency and Human Capital Utilization challenges were announced in January 2023 and solicited nearly 150 applications from across the world. Applicants were asked to demonstrate how their solutions can mitigate service disruptions, automate operations, and combat workforce shortages. The companies selected will deploy their technologies over an eight-week “proof of concept” period with one or more of the following agencies: The MTA—including New York City Transit and Metro-North Railroad—the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT, and the NYC Department of Transportation.

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March 1, 2023

Knaq keeps the Port Authority’s elevators and escalators on the up-and-up

When Brian Carey launched Lower Manhattan startup Knaq in 2017, the engineer and Stanford research fellow planned to develop monitoring devices for industrial equipment including wastewater pumps and compressors. But the first client he landed was a tiny elevator company in New Jersey. And thus his long ride began.

“I never thought in a million years I would know this much about elevators and escalators,” Carey says now.

Exploring the industry, he discovered something wild: There were no devices on the market that could send real-time status alerts to elevator and escalator operators. Hospitals, transit agencies and lots of other institutions were still relying on customer complaints or a daily maintenance check to learn when a people mover was on the fritz.

Now Knaq provides elevator, escalator and moving-walkway monitoring services to a dozen clients operating more than 1,000 people movers, largely in the New York area. The company’s devices send instant text or email alerts to operators as soon as the equipment stops running—potentially eliminating hours of downtime.

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January 5, 2023

New York Regional Transportation Agencies Launch Tech Competition to Enhance Operational Efficiency and Human Capital Utilization

Applications open for Transit Tech Lab’s Operational Efficiency and Human Capital challenges with MTA, Port Authority, NJ TRANSIT and NYC DOT 

Today the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT, NYC Department of Transportation and the Partnership for New York City launched the fifth iteration of the Transit Tech Lab’s annual competition, calling for tech-driven approaches to support the agencies’ objectives in operational efficiency and human capital utilization.  

Applications for the Operational Efficiency Challenge and Utilization of Human Capital Challenge are due March 2 and are accessible at:  

Representatives from each participating agency will evaluate startups based on the technology’s impact and the applicant’s product, team, and overall value proposition. Finalists will move forward to conduct a proof-of-concept over an eight-week period; the companies with the most compelling technologies that advance the agencies’ goals can win a yearlong pilot. In the past few years 23 companies have been selected to participate in yearlong pilots, conducting deeper tests to demonstrate the value of their technology to agency partners.

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November 27, 2022

MTA to use artificial intelligence tech to keep buses from breaking down

The MTA plans to use artificial intelligence technology to help prevent buses from breaking down on the road.

The agency has tested the tech — from the company Preteckt — for two years. It’s a souped-up version of the check engine light in your car, according to the company’s founder Ken Sills. He said it can flag serious equipment problems long in advance, enabling crews to be more proactive about bus maintenance.

Sills said the technology prevents “progressive damage."

“Where you have a small issue that can be fixed fairly inexpensively with little amount of time that, if you get ahead of, can prevent you from damaging a very expensive component,” he said.

Preteckt was chosen as one of six companies that won the Transit Tech Lab accelerator in 2019, which allowed companies to pilot their technology at the MTA.

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November 9, 2022

MTA Veterans Ronnie Hakim and Sally Librera Join Transit Tech Lab as Executives-in-Residence

Last week, the Transit Tech Lab announced two Executives-in-Residence who will provide strategic advice to Lab participants throughout the pilot process. 

Ronnie Hakim, HNTB’s national transit and rail market sector leader, and Sally Librera, AECOM’s transit market leader for the Americas, both served in leadership positions at the MTA — North America’s largest transportation network — and have a combined 50 years of experience in public transit operations and policy. 

Through this initiative, Lab participants will gain insights on the requirements and operational issues at major public transit agencies. This personalized consultation will ensure that companies’ solutions provide value and address the needs of agencies and riders.   

Ronnie and Sally recently joined the Lab to work with the companies selected for the Recovery and Sustainability Challenge pilots. Six companies are deploying technologies to address public transit safety, track new mobility patterns, and support clean energy goals for the MTA, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and NJ Transit. 

Please join us in welcoming Ronnie and Sally to the Lab family and stay tuned for next year’s challenge announcement!

Ronnie Hakim

Ronnie Hakim is HNTB’s national transit and rail market sector leader. Based in HNTB’s New York City office, she is responsible for collaborating with HNTB leadership nationwide on strategic planning and implementation, industry representation, business development, service delivery, and client collaboration and satisfaction.

Prior to joining HNTB, she served as managing director of the MTA, where she was responsible for leading more than 70,000 employees in five operating agencies, overseeing transit systems that carry 9 million riders each day.

Full bio 

Sally Librera 

Sally is AECOM’s transit market leader for the Americas. She focuses on growing value and delivering sustainable, innovative, cost-effective solutions for transit providers, riders, communities, and systems.

As the former senior vice president for subways at MTA New York City Transit, Sally oversaw North America’s largest urban rail transit operation, leading a team of 30,000 employees and serving nearly 6 million daily riders. She oversaw 8,000 train trips on a fleet of 6,400 railcars across 660 miles of track and 472 stations each day.

Full bio

October 31, 2022

Tech will spot unsafe behavior and energy waste in transit systems

The half-dozen firms piloting their products with transit agencies—the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NJ Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—completed proof of concepts this summer and fall and will begin yearlong pilots.

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October 31, 2022

Regional Transportation Agencies Deploy New Tech to Address Public Transit Safety and Extreme Weather Conditions

After Successful Proof of Concepts, Six Innovative Companies Selected to Scale Pilots Across MTA, Port Authority and NJ TRANSIT Networks 

MTA Veterans Ronnie Hakim and Sally Librera Join Transit Tech Lab as Executives-in-Residence to Provide Strategic Advice to Startups

Today, the Transit Tech Lab—a public-private initiative created by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Partnership for New York City to bring private sector innovation to improve public transit—announced six winners of the Recovery and Sustainability Challenge that will deploy technologies to address public transit safety, track new mobility patterns, and support clean energy goals over a one-year pilot. 

The companies recently completed proof of concepts and will scale their solutions with the MTA, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), and NJ TRANSIT. They will leverage emerging technologies, including LiDAR, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and managed charging to deter unsafe behavior, curb fare evasion, and improve the sustainability and resiliency of transportation infrastructure. 

The Challenge launched during the Summer of 2022 and solicited nearly 150 applicants from across the world. Pilot winners were evaluated and selected by a team of 38 transit and public safety experts based on the technologies’ impact, product, team, and value of solution. 

Recovery Challenge Pilot Winners

  • Blyncsy (Salt Lake City, UT) - Catalogs roadway infrastructure and conditions in real time, including pavement markings, obstacles, and roadway deterioration to facilitate maintenance and enhance asset management systems.
    Primary Partner Agency: PANYNJ
  • Quanergy (Sunnyvale, CA) - Uses LiDAR hardware paired with analytic software to improve transportation challenges. Quanergy’s Flow Management solution can report unsafe behavior, offer object detection, and measure passenger flows.
    Primary Partner Agency: New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad

Sustainability Challenge Pilot Winners

  • GridMatrix (San Francisco, CA) - Processes live feeds from cameras and translates it into metrics on traffic congestion, signal performance, vehicular emissions, and roadway safety.
    Primary Partner Agency: PANYNJ
  • Stormsensor (Seattle, WA) - Provides cost-effective stormwater/climate-data and predictive analytics to mitigate flooding, simplify monitoring, and streamline maintenance and operations procedures to better deploy emergency resources in weather events.
    Primary Partner Agency: New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, NJ TRANSIT, PANYNJ
  • The Mobility House (Belmont, CA) - Enables intelligent integration of electric vehicles with the grid while minimizing charging costs. The software provides insights on how to maximize electric bus availability.
    Primary Partner Agency: New York City Transit
  • Runwise (New York, NY) - Uses wireless technology and web-based software to provide actionable opportunities to reduce energy consumption and optimize heating in buildings.
    Primary Partner Agency: New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Rail Road, PANYNJ
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July 12, 2022

Sustainability & Recovery Challenge Finalists Present Proof-of-Concept Results

At the start of 2022 the Transit Tech Lab launched the Sustainability and Recovery Challenges, soliciting innovative solutions to help the New York metro-region meet environmental sustainability objectives and restore confidence in public transit. The program received nearly 150 applications from companies around the world and worked with subject matter experts to select ten compelling technologies to kick off proofs-of-concept in May.

Companies worked closely with transportation agencies in New York and New Jersey over the course of eight weeks, offering solutions that range from artificial intelligence to hardware that can flag unexpected flooding conditions before they impact commuters.

Each company presents an opportunity to improve the public transportation experience for millions of people in the metro area.

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July 7, 2022

After delays, MTA makes moves toward 21st-century tech

ast week, a Citi Bike tossed onto the tracks, several basketballs and a trash bag caught on braking equipment spurred multiple subway delays.

But it isn’t just unpredictable junk clogging up the rails, it’s aging infrastructure that fails and stalls trains, or people who have fallen onto tracks or are trespassing in the system that turns precious commuting minutes into lost time.

Modern signal upgrades can enable the MTA not just to run more reliable subway service but also improve how transit crews maintain and monitor the system. To that end, the MTA is piloting emerging technologies from four companies selected by the Transit Tech Lab—a public-private partnership between the MTA and the Partnership for New York City—through its Signaling Challenge initiative.

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June 30, 2022

MTA Testing Tech to Modernize Signal System

Solutions Aim to Reduce Subway Running Times and Improve Reliability

Today, the Transit Tech Lab announced that four companies were selected as finalists in its Signaling Challenge, a global competition calling for technologies that will help modernize New York City’s aging subway signaling system quickly and cost-effectively. The challenge seeks to increase subway capacity, efficiency and reliability by enabling trains to run closer together. The four finalists, selected from nearly 60 applications, are testing solutions that utilize emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, LiDAR and communication-based train control (CBTC) across the New York City Transit subway system. 

The Transit Tech Lab is part of the Transit Innovation Partnership, a public-private initiative created by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Partnership for New York City.

Modernizing New York City’s aging signaling system will enable the MTA to run more trains, improving the customer experience for millions of people traveling within the five boroughs. The selected companies began tests in January 2022 and will present proof-of-concept results by the end of the summer.

The Signaling Challenge finalists are:

Company: 4AI Systems (New York, NY)
Technology: Using on-train artificial intelligence system to detect infrastructure, obstacles and wayside objects. The technology supports train operators in identifying obstructions, track intrusion, and equipment in need of repair.

Company: Alstom (West Henrietta, NY)
Technology: Using Urbalis, their latest technology, to enable faster communication between trains and bi-directional train movement. The product has a simplified, train-to-train architecture that eliminates the need of wayside equipment, reduces installation times, improves operational headway and speed, and lowers life cycle costs.

Company: Luminar (Orlando, FL)
Technology: Using long-range LiDAR technology coupled with perception software from their partner, Seoul Robotics, to accurately position a train underground, including areas where GPS traditionally fails. The product provides accurate arrival and departure data and can be further trained to detect hazards and structural damage on the tracks.

Company: Ouster (San Francisco, CA) in partnership with Lux Modus (Calgary, Canada)
Technology: Using digital LiDAR sensors to collect millions of high-resolution 3D geospatial data points on a Track Geometry Car. The technology provides a digital twin and detects structural damage, infrastructure decay and foreign objects on the tracks.

NYC Transit President Richard Davey said, “Increasing reliability is paramount to improving the customer experience and bringing more people back to the subway. This diverse group of pilot programs provides a variety of solutions towards achieving this goal, and we look forward to seeing the results.”

Natalia Quintero, Senior Vice President of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City said, “New York’s transit system is in the midst of tremendous transformation, and we are delighted to be helping accelerate the pace of positive change. With visionary leadership at the helm of the MTA and cutting-edge technology, New York City is well positioned to build the transit system New Yorkers deserve.”

About the Transit Tech Lab

The Tech Lab program is part of the Transit Innovation Partnership, which yielded the award-winning MTA Live Subway Map and was established by the MTA and the Partnership for New York City to bring private sector innovation to improve public transit. 

Since 2018, the program has put the New York metropolitan region at the forefront of transit innovation, which promises to support the modernization of public transit and to transform the customer experience. Winners of previous competitions include Remix, a collaborative digital platform used to redesign the bus routes, and Axon Vibe, which built the Essential Connector smartphone app to help essential workers plan journeys during overnight subway disinfection closures. 

Partnership for New York City logo
Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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