MTA’s Transit Tech Lab asks startups for COVID-19 technology ideas

The New York transit group says it's seeking everything from technologies that can provide remote mental-health counseling to its workers to "cutting-edge" filtration systems.
subway platform
(Andre Benz / Unsplash)

The Metropolitan Transit Authority on Wednesday asked startups to contribute technology solutions to fight the spread of the coronavirus on New York City’s public transit, ranging from robots that automatically clean subway car interiors to thermal monitoring systems for passengers hopping onboard.

The call for technology is the latest challenge issued by the Transit Tech Lab, a startup accelerator run by the Transit Innovation Partnership, a collaboration between the civic nonprofit Partnership for New York City and the MTA that launched in October 2018 to help bring technology into the region’s transit systems, including the MTA, New York City Department of Transportation, NJ Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Startups that want to participate in the COVID-19 challenge should submit a prototype of a product or system that fills a need in public health or transportation to the lab by July 30, according to the MTA.

“The pandemic hit us in New York like no other place in the country. MTA took unprecedented steps the past four months, opening itself up to innovative ways to reduce the risk to our riders and our workers,” said MTA Chief Innovation Officer Mark Dowd. “We are excited to partner with the Transit Innovation Partnership in our quest to find new technologies and approaches that safely remove contaminated aerosols from our public transit system.”


The MTA asked each applicant to include a product that will either help the corporation’s cleaning crews do their jobs more effectively or help it manage infrastructure and employees more effectively. An application that offers remote therapy or counseling to support mental health needs of MTA workers will be considered alongside applications that promise “cutting-edge” air filtration systems, according to the corporation.

Some transit systems in the region have already begun using experimental technology pilots to help fight the coronavirus, like NJTransit, which is studying whether UV light can kill the virus on bus seats and armrests.

Latest Podcasts