MTA selects companies to bring high-tech COVID-19 solutions, including air purification and crowd monitoring

Oct. 28, 2020
The Transit Innovation Partnership is connecting eight companies with MTA, Port Authority, NJ Transit and NYC DOE to enhance the health and safety of the transit networks.

Eight finalists for the COVID-19 Response Challenge have been announced by the Transit Innovation Partnership and partner agencies Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority), New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE).

The COVID-19 Response Challenge is 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.

“We have a great group of companies we selected from the over 200 applicants who will work with MTA and the other agencies to find innovative solutions to issues created by the pandemic,” said MTA Chief Innovation Officer Mark Dowd. 

The companies that will begin testing their products in an eight-week proof of concept are: 

Company: Beyond (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 

Technology: Individually leased folding electric bikes and scooters to expand public transit access.

Primary Partner Agency: New York City Transit

Company: CASPR Group (Dallas, Texas) 

Technology: Disinfection technology that works with ambient air to provide continuous air and surface protection without harmful chemicals or an operator .

Primary Partner Agency: New York City Transit

Company: CitySwift (Galway, Ireland) 

Technology: Provides riders and train operators with capacity levels for trains and buses .

Primary Partner Agency: New York City Transit

Company: Kinnos (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Technology: Visualizes disinfection through colorized powder formula that dissolves into liquid bleach .

Primary Partner Agency: Port Authority

Company: Knorr Merak (Munich, Germany)

Technology: Air filtration and purification solution .

Primary Partner Agencies: New York City Transit, Metro-North, NJ Transit. Long Island Rail Road is also testing this solution.

Company: Piper (San Diego, Calif.)

Technology: Collects real time passenger crowding data from trains and platforms for integration with mobile apps and in-station displays .

Primary Partner Agencies: Port Authority, NJ Transit

Company: Strongarm (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Technology: Wearable technology to promote worker safety and social distancing .

Primary Partner Agency: NJ Transit

Company: Vyv (Troy, N.Y.)

Technology: Continuous non-UV antimicrobial light to reduce bacteria/microbes from surfaces

Primary Partner Agency: NJ Transit

“The innovative finalists of the COVID-19 Response Challenge will apply their cutting-edge technology to help make public transit safer at this critical time,” said Transit Innovation Partnership Executive Director Rachel Haot. “We are grateful to all who applied and for the leadership of the MTA, Port Authority, NYC DOT, NYC DOE and NJ Transit as we work together to transform our public transit network for the challenges of the COVID crisis.” 

The COVID-19 Challenge was launched in July by the Transit Tech Lab, building on MTA’s unprecedented cleaning measures to help riders return confidently to transit. Nearly 200 submissions were received. Last month five transit agencies - the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, NJ TRANSIT, New York City Department of Education, and New York City Department of Transportation – were presented a variety of solutions from 16 companies, including seven based in New York. More than 50 public and private sector evaluators reviewed submissions. 

“Utilizing new technologies is one of the key pillars of an effective strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This competition, resulting in highly promising finalists, is a hugely positive step forward,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “The Port Authority is eager to see these impressive technologies piloted in real world settings and to study the efficacy of their implementation in our facilities across the region.” 

The Transit Tech Lab is a program of the Transit Innovation Partnership, a public-private initiative created by the MTA and Partnership for New York City in response to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s call for private sector innovation to improve public transit. The COVID-19 Response Challenge represents the third cohort of the successful Transit Tech Lab program. Previous graduates of the program include Remix, a collaborative digital platform used to redesign the bus routes, and AxonVibe, which built the Essential Connector smartphone app to help essential workers plan journeys during overnight subway disinfection closures. Selected companies in previous cohorts have been funded as part of a continuing partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“NJ Transit is excited for this opportunity to once again join the Transit Tech Lab, this time for the COVID-19 Response Challenge,” said NJ Transit President & CEO Kevin Corbett. “Given the unprecedented challenges we, and transit agencies across the country, face as a result of the pandemic. Our partnership with the Transit Tech Lab will help lead us to innovative solutions that include the latest technology advances, enabling us to maintain the safest possible travel environment for our customers and our employees.”