Regional Transportation Agencies Launch Tech Competition for COVID-19 Recovery and Environmental Sustainability

January 31, 2022

Applications open for Transit Tech Lab’s Recovery and Sustainability challenges with MTA, Port Authority, NJ TRANSIT and NYC DOT 

Today, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT, NYC Department of Transportation and the Partnership for New York City announced the fourth round of the Transit Tech Lab calling for technologies to aid in these agencies’ pandemic recovery and to meet sustainability objectives. 

Agencies are seeking solutions that restore customer confidence in public transportation, improve resilience to weather extremes, and further reduce the region’s carbon footprint, including new tools that better predict travel patterns, identify extreme weather impacts in real time, and support clean and efficient freight deliveries.

Applications for the Recovery Challenge and Sustainability Challenge are due March 25 and are accessible at:

2022 Transit Tech Lab Challenges 

Recovery Challenge: How can we support the recovery of public transit and deliver service that gets customers back? 

As the New York metro-region recovers from COVID-19 it is vital to reimagine public transit to meet the region’s evolving needs and address new mobility patterns established during the pandemic-era. The Recovery Challenge calls for technologies and approaches that help make transit more responsive to the changing needs of New Yorkers while ensuring customers and employees feel safe. Examples include:

  • Real-time regional data tools that provide insights on new travel patterns  

  • Tools that streamline crew scheduling to ensure optimal staffing across operations  

  • Enhancements to OMNY, the MTA’s successful contactless payment system, to improve the customer experience  

  • Technologies that improve safety and deter adverse events including employee assaults and track intrusions  

Sustainability Challenge: How can we build a more climate resilient transportation system while also increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions of our fleets and facilities? 

Bus, rail and subway operations have been impacted by extreme weather events, including flash floods and winter storms. This challenge calls for technologies that help make public transportation more responsive to extreme weather. It also calls for innovative methods and measures to help the transportation sector meet state and federal goals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Examples include:

  • Real-time asset tracking tools to prevent system failures, reduce operational costs, and improve energy efficiencies  

  • New technologies to improve Electric Vehicle (EV) bus range, increase battery performance, develop EV charging infrastructure, and rapidly deploy zero-emissions buses and locomotives

  • Tools to support clean and efficient urban freight deliveries 

  • Climate resiliency innovations to protect transit assets from flooding during coastal events and severe rainstorms 

  • New techniques to allow customers to report extreme conditions in real time 

Representatives from each agency will evaluate companies based on the technology’s impact, product, team and value. Selected companies will move forward to conduct a proof-of-concept over an eight-week period. 

Natalia Quintero, Senior Vice President of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City, said, “We look forward to working closely with the tech community to help restore rider confidence and create a greener regional transportation network. This is a great opportunity for growth-stage companies to test their solutions in a system that serves as the economic backbone of the tri-state area. We’re thankful to our partners at the MTA, Port Authority, NJ TRANSIT and NYC DOT for their commitment to leveraging tech as we bring riders back and tackle the adverse impacts of climate change.”   

Kevin S. Corbett, President & CEO of NJ TRANSIT, said, “NJ TRANSIT has continually leveraged technology to introduce new and innovative ways to improve the customer experience as we recover from the pandemic, in addition to making significant capital investments that will make the system cleaner, greener and more resilient against extreme weather events. It is more critical than ever to continue focusing on building and restoring customer confidence in transit, and we welcome all of the fresh ideas this challenge is sure to yield.”

Ydanis Rodriguez, Department of Transportation Commissioner, said, “The Transit Innovation Partnership has been a great source for cutting-edge approaches to improving how we manage our streets. Leveraging new technology is a key goal of the Adams administration and we look forward to participating in the next round of the challenge.”

Michael Wojnar, Senior Advisor for Innovation & Policy at MTA, said, “Since its inception in 2018, the challenges conducted by the Transit Tech Lab have provided tremendous value by connecting the MTA to firms with innovative solutions to problems that have plagued our system for years. This year, we look forward to tackling two areas of critical importance with the Recovery Challenge and the Sustainability Challenge – reducing our carbon footprint and bringing customers back to the system.”

Robert Galvin, Chief Technology Officer at Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said, “Public transit is at a critical moment and through the use of technology and innovation we can conquer some of today’s latest challenges. As the first transportation agency in the US to embrace the Biden Administration’s Net Zero climate goals, we are thrilled to participate in Transit Tech Lab’s latest challenge, which will focus on recovery and sustainability.”

About the Transit Innovation Partnership 

The Transit Innovation Partnership is a public-private initiative formed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Partnership for New York City with the mission to make New York the global leader in public transit. A board of leaders from academia, business, civic organizations and government guides the Transit Innovation Partnership, which brings together diverse stakeholders to realize public-private projects that address top-priority challenges. Learn more at

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. 


Get notified about the Transit Tech Lab and receive occasional updates.

© 2024 Transit Tech Lab and New York City Partnership Foundation


Get notified about the Transit Tech Lab and receive occasional updates.

© 2024 Transit Tech Lab and New York City Partnership Foundation


Get notified about the Transit Tech Lab and receive occasional updates.

© 2024 Transit Tech Lab and New York City Partnership Foundation