2022 in Review: Transit Agencies Use Tech to Respond to Post-Pandemic and Environmental Challenges

transittechlab
5 min readJan 11, 2023

Reliable, safe public transit is critical to fully unlocking New York City’s comeback and future economic growth. Through the Transit Tech Lab, regional public transit agencies can fast-track the exploration, review and testing of new technology solutions that address pressing needs. Over the past four years, this model for accelerated transit innovation has helped New York’s busiest transit agencies save time and money while improving customer experience. And last year’s program was no exception.

As we gear up for the year ahead, we are excited to share a brief look back on a successful year of collaboration with our partners and the innovative tech companies helping shape the future of public transport.

We have also launched our latest transit innovation challenges around improving operational efficiencies and human capital resources. Applications are open until March 2apply here!

2022 Recap

2022 Challenge Cohort

In 2022, the Transit Tech Lab launched two new challenges focused on sustainability and recovery, continued to advance its Signaling Challenge, and introduced a new Executive-in-Residence program to offer additional guidance to cohort participants. As a result, our transit agency partners — the MTA, The Port Authority of NY & NJ, NJ TRANSIT, and NYC DOT — have leveraged new tools to improve operations and better respond to changing post-pandemic needs. The five major program achievements in 2022 include:

Ten 2022 Challenge Proof of Concepts Completed

  • In January 2022, the Transit Tech Lab introduced the Sustainability and Recovery Challenge, drawing nearly 150 online submissions. These applicants demonstrated how new technologies can meet environmental sustainability objectives and restore confidence in public transit.
  • 45 public and private sector evaluators selected ten of the most promising companies to test technologies during an eight-week proof of concept. Companies successfully presented findings, including Stormsensor, a storm water analytics company helping agencies reduce asset damage caused by extreme weather events.

Stormsensor installed six sensors across Port Authority, MTA and NJ TRANSIT facilities, capturing one critical flooding event from 314 hours of active water flow.

Six 2022 Challenge Pilots Launched

38 public sector employees selected six pilot winners to further test and demonstrate how their technologies could support resiliency and sustainability goals across the system, including Runwise, a New York based company optimizing heating in buildings. (Featured in Crain’s New York Business)

Runwise has installed sensors across twelve Port Authority and MTA buildings which will result in an estimated 10–15% reduction in fuel consumption.

Four Signaling Challenge Proof of Concepts Completed

Beginning in January 2022, four companies, selected from nearly 60 applications, demonstrated how technologies such as artificial intelligence, LiDAR and communication-based train control (CBTC), can increase subway capacity, efficiency and reliability by enabling trains to run closer together. (Featured in Crain’s New York Business)

4AI Systems (left) installed their Sensorbar, an on-train artificial intelligence system which captured 5000 miles of footage along the Canarise Line, demonstrated detection of objects up to 1600 feet away which can improve reliability and safety through early track intrusion detection

Ouster and Lux Modus (right), a digital LiDAR company and a LiDAR analytics company, captured 25,000 images and created a 3D twin of track infrastructure between Coney Island Yard and 4th Avenue Station. The companies demonstrated how their solution could automate track maintenance by tracking and measuring defects in infrastructure over time.

One Commercial Procurement Awarded

Preteckt, a 2019 Bus Challenge pilot winner, was awarded a $962,640 contract to deploy their predictive maintenance technology across 1500 buses, a quarter of the MTA’s New York City Transit bus fleet. (Gothamist feature)

Acting Deputy Vice President, Central Maintenance Facilities, Jesse Seder, presents Preteckt pilot achievements and plans for expansion during the November MTA Board Meeting.

Executive in Residence Program Launched

In November, we launched an Executive in Residence (EIR) program, featuring former MTA executives, Sally Librera and Ronnie Hakim. The EIRs will work with Lab participants to provide personalized consultation to ensure companies’ solutions provide value and address the needs of agencies and riders. We look forward to continuing this program in 2023 and beyond.

We are grateful for the incredible transit agency partners and dedicated public servants who championed innovation and worked tirelessly to ensure transit services continue to improve and serve resident needs. We look forward to continuing this work in 2023.

Keep up with the Transit Tech Lab in 2023

As we run with full steam ahead in 2023, help spread the word with four ongoing and upcoming opportunities:

  1. Nominate a company for our 2023 Challenges. Know of a company who can help improve operational efficiency or talent management for NYC regional transit agencies? Nominate them with this form, or encourage them to apply directly here. Applications are due March 2!
  2. Attend an info session. Join us on January 19 for a virtual information session to learn more about applying to the 2023 Transit Tech Lab. Growth-stage companies looking to partner with public transit to help improve operational efficiencies and talent management are encouraged to apply. Another info session will be held on February 15.
  3. Read our Spotlight Alumni Series. To highlight alumni success stories, we initiated a spotlight series on our Medium page, featuring exclusive interviews and content from our alumni. Check out our spotlights from alumni, AllVision and Axon Vibe.
  4. Find us at SXSW. In March, we’re heading to SXSW in Austin with the MTA and two alumni representatives to demonstrate how the MTA and other NYC regional agencies are pioneering innovation in the public sector, utilizing the Transit Tech Lab model to quickly test new technologies that solve pressing public transit challenges. Follow us here.

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transittechlab

The Transit Tech Lab is an accelerator program for public transportation solutions launched by the @MTA and @Partnership4NYC