Transit Innovates Amid a Pandemic: 2020 in Review

Public transit has played a critical role in the movement of essential workers throughout the pandemic — and it will be critical to the recovery of New York, the region and the country.

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.

New York City Transit Chief Customer Officer Sarah Meyer speaks at the launch of the Live Map.

To support customer confidence as riders return to the transit system, TIP and the MTA jointly launched the world’s first live digital subway map in October, built pro bono by Brooklyn design firm Work & Co. The collaboration is the subject of documentary “The Map” by filmmaker Gary Hustwit.

The map offers an online, real-time view of planned and unplanned service changes in digital format, including the physical location of trains, exact timetables for departures from each station and accessibility information such as current elevator and escalator status. You can access the map at map.mta.info.

The MTA Live Subway Map adapts to screen sizes to serve a broader number of customers.

TIP also advanced proofs of concept with eight companies as part of the accessibility and curb management challenges. Finally, Transit Tech Lab graduates Remix and Axon Vibe launched new tools and product enhancements to support the transport of essential workers overnight. The MTA estimates Remix saved them millions in costs and 130 miles of non-revenue service per day, while cutting production timelines by 71%.

President of MTA Bus Craig Cipriano speaks at the announcement of the Navilens app, a Transit Tech Lab company that serves visually impaired customers.

As we look back on 2020, we remember and mourn the 136 heroic MTA team members who lost their lives to COVID-19. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with tech and transit leaders to shape the future of the region, and look forward to building on this work together in 2021.

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