News Press

MTA, Transit Innovation Partnership & Empire State Development Announce Signaling Challenge & Demo Day at Signaling Innovation Summit

December 10, 2019


Katy Feinberg, Rubenstein

Selected Innovators Invited to Demonstrate Cutting-Edge Technology at Demo Day March 13

As Part of Historic Capital Plan, MTA to Begin Soliciting Bids in Second Half of 2020 for $7.1 Billion Signaling Modernization Program Unprecedented in Size and Scope

Approximately 100 Companies from Four Continents Attend Symposium and Compete to Accelerate Modernization of New York City Transit’s Signaling System

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Transit Innovation Partnership and Empire State Development today hosted a Signaling Innovation Summit to bring together the best and brightest innovators to accelerate the modernization of New York City’s subway signaling system – a $7.1 billion program unprecedented in size and scope – and improve performance, service reliability and safety for 5.7 million daily customers.

The MTA and the Transit Innovation Partnership also announced a new signaling challenge to identify ways to make existing subway cars compatible with new signaling technology faster and at a lower cost. Selected companies will have the opportunity to present at the MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership’s Demo Day on March 13, 2020.

“The MTA is committed to pursuing the most innovative solutions possible as we undergo a historic transformation to change the way we do business,” said Patrick J. Foye, MTA Chairman and CEO. “We’re eager to hear proposals on signal modernization that will help us deliver on our core mission to provide faster, more reliable service for our millions of daily customers.”

“Pursuing new partnerships with cutting-edge companies in the tech world will be a gamechanger for the MTA,” said Mark Dowd, MTA Chief Innovation Officer. “The infusion of new thinking and technology will make the MTA a leader in the transportation industry.”

“The New York City subway system cannot truly be modernized without robust improvements to its aging signal infrastructure. This is a time for innovation and collaboration,” Rachel Haot, Executive Director of Transit Innovation Partnership, said. “We look forward to working closely with the MTA’s leadership team to identify transformative opportunities to bring the subway system into the 21st century.”

“New York’s economic growth relies on a modern, resilient, dependable transit system,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “As the MTA continues to upgrade the service it delivers to riders, events like the one announced today will challenge us not only to plan for the needs of tomorrow’s commuters, but to acknowledge the critical importance a strong transportation network has on our future economy.”

The summit challenged approximately 100 companies from four continents to reimagine signaling infrastructure and advance the transition to 21st century signaling technologies. Participants pitched their technologies to address key signaling program priorities: improving on-time performance; enhancing operational flexibility; enhancing safety; building a system that is quicker to install, test and maintain; and delivering these objectives on time and on budget.

A team of academic and MTA experts from all agencies evaluated the proposed technologies on a set of criteria including whether the proposals are feasible in the MTA environment, in mature state for a live demonstration, present a new way of deriving value from existing MTA assets, and whether the pitch company has a qualified and compatible team to collaborate with the MTA.

MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership Demo Day and Signal Challenge

A critical part of modernizing subway signaling in a cost-efficient manner is upgrading legacy train cars with new technology. Traditional networking methods to connect train and signaling components would make upgrading more expensive than buying new trains. The Signaling Challenge calls for reliable, cost-effective strategies that can accelerate the aggressive timeline of the MTA’s Fast Forward Plan and efficiently allocate the $7 billion included for signal modernization on six train lines in the 2020-2024 capital plan.

Companies with relevant solutions to the Signaling Challenge can learn more and apply at by Feb. 3, 2020.

The MTA will select the most promising companies who apply to present their ideas at the Signaling Demo Day on March 13, 2020.

Technologies identified at the Signaling Demo Day which successfully address key objectives may be eligible for Test & Evaluate contracts. These contracts support the research and development of new technologies prior to the procurement phase, allowing the MTA to test and customize innovative products in the transit environment.

“The use of Test & Evaluate contracts allows the MTA to utilize an under-leveraged procurement method to test the reliability of new technology,” said Steve Plochochi, NYCT Senior Vice President of Procurement and Supply Chain. “The upcoming Signaling Demo Day is great opportunity for the MTA to identify innovative new ideas that advance our efforts to modernize the subway’s outdated signal system.”

2020-2024 Capital Plan Signal Modernization Program

Over the next five-year Capital Program, the MTA will award signal modernization contracts for the following six line corridors, with contract awards beginning in the second half of 2020.

The following lines have been selected as part of the program:

  • Queens Boulevard Line East ( from Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike to Jamaica 179 St and Jamaica Center Parsons/Archer)
  • Crosstown ( from Court Square to Hoyt-Schermerhorn)
  • Lexington Avenue ( 149 St-Grand Concourse to Nevins St)
  • Fulton ( from Jay St to Euclid Av)
  • Astoria ( from Astoria Ditmars to 57 St-7 Av)
  • 63 Street ( from 21 St-Queensbridge to 57 St-6 Av)

The signal innovation summit underscores the MTA’s commitment to innovation and transformation and supports the agency’s highest priority: upgrading its outdated signaling system. For more information on the historic 2020-2024 Capital Plan, please visit: