MTA Press Releases

Press Release
September 20, 2019
MTA and Transit Innovation Partnership Announce Signal Innovation Collaboration and Bidding Conference

Conference Will Solicit Cutting Edge Ideas for Re-Signaling New York City Subways; Build on Successful Public-Private Initiative with Transit Innovation Partnership

MTA Also Announces University Partnership for Adaptive Technologies and Mass Transit Innovation


The MTA and the Transit Innovation Partnership today announced a new collaborative effort exploring signal modernization that will include co-hosting a bidding conference to solicit technological innovations and proposals for reimagining the MTA’s signal systems. The announcement builds on the MTA’s ongoing association with the Transit Innovation Partnership — a public-private initiative between the MTA and the Partnership for New York City with the mission of making New York the global leader in public transit technologies — and comes just days after the release of the 2020-2024 MTA Capital Plan. The MTA Capital Plan calls for more than $50 billion in critical infrastructure and modernization investments, including $7 billion that would go directly towards using the latest technology to re-signal six lines in the New York City subway system.

“We’re excited to once again partner with the Transit Innovation Partnership to generate cutting-edge ideas, especially focused on addressing the MTA’s legacy signal systems,” MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye said. “Technology and innovation will be a major focus of the MTA going forward, and we’re working to ensure we see real results and continue our transformation.”

“It’s long been said that the New York City subway system is the backbone of the city’s economy. That's true but the reality is that the backbone of the subway system itself is its aging signal system. The MTA deserves credit for stabilizing the system over the last year but true modernization cannot take place without robust improvements to the subway’s aging signals,” Rachel Haot, Executive Director of Transit Innovation Partnership, said. “We look forward to working closely once again with the MTA’s leadership team to identify transformative opportunities in the signaling space and helping the subway turn its resurgence into a true renaissance.”

“Re-signaling the city’s subways is a priority for the city’s business community. Modern signaling can transform commutes and assist in getting millions of New Yorkers where they need to go more effectively and predictably,” said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. 

“Cornell Tech is proud to work with the MTA, Transit Innovation Partnership, and academic partners to advance technology solutions for the everyday challenges facing our public transit system,” said Greg Morrisett, the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech. “Having a positive impact on New York City is core to our campus mission. Cornell Tech’s degree programs and research initiatives are focused on the rapid emergence of technologies and their societal impact in the digital age. In launching our new Urban Tech hub, we look forward to ongoing collaborations with the MTA and other organizations to make our city more livable, connected, and adaptable.”

New York City’s subways have long run on a fixed block signaling system. Though still able to move millions, the aging infrastructure frequently poses challenges and requires near-constant maintenance work. Modern signaling like communications-based train control (CBTC) allows trains to interact with one another seamlessly. This allows the system to run more trains with less space between them. Where CBTC is present, on-time performance rises dramatically. The signaling conference will allow the MTA to tap into innovators who may leapfrog to an entirely new approach to re-signaling the subway system.

The MTA also announced today the creation of the University Partnership for Adaptive Technologies & Mass Transit Innovation. Under this partnership, Cornell Tech, New York University and Columbia University will create a joint working group that will coordinate with the MTA — particularly the new Research, Development and Innovation Office — as well as the Transit Innovation Partnership, to leverage the intellectual capital of faculty and students to identify ways to leapfrog current solutions to the MTA’s challenges and to help ensure capital plan projects are done as efficiently as possible. The working group will explore the development and adaptation of new technologies to see how they can be applied to existing mass transit technologies, and, within the first year, develop a detailed operating plan and budget to accomplish specific goals including leveraging faculty and student expertise of the partnering institutions.

The news was announced as part of a conference held Friday at the Javits Center that brought together senior MTA executives, academics, and representatives from several dozen technology companies. The conference featured presentations from executives from divisions and departments across the MTA. The MTA officials detailed specific challenges the agency faces, with the goal of growing relationships with tech partners that may prove helpful in identifying new or outside-the-box solutions to better deliver projects announced this week in the agency’s historic $51.5 billion 2020-2024 Capital Plan. Today’s conference covered signaling, accessibility, fare evasion and cyber issues.

The proposed capital program will modernize the subways by adding capacity, increasing reliability, and accelerating accessibility. The program includes full funding for Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway from a mixture of federal and local sources. Systemwide priority initiatives funded by the plan include signal modernization, new subway cars, station accessibility, station improvements, and track replacement.  $7.1 billion of the Capital Plan will go toward signal modernization along six subway lines, including the Lexington Avenue Line serving more than 50% of riders.


About the Transit Innovation Partnership
The Transit Innovation Partnership is a public-private initiative formed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Partnership for New York City with the mission to make New York the global leader in public transit. A board of leaders from academia, business, civic organizations and government guides the Transit Innovation Partnership, which brings together diverse stakeholders to realize public-private projects that improve transit performance and customer service. Focus areas include technology and process innovation in infrastructure, data, operations, customer service and revenue generation. Learn more at and companies wishing to participate can email