NJ Transit Hopes New Technology Can Combat Coronavirus

NEWARK, NJ — NJ Transit is trying to figure out if high-tech innovations such as antimicrobial lighting and a phone app that tracks passenger counts in real time can help prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

On Tuesday, the agency announced that it has selected four companies to test out some state-of-the-art technology aimed at fighting COVID-19. Solutions that have “proven to be successful” may be chosen for a year-long pilot program.

The companies and technology include:

  • Vyv: “Uses proprietary LED antimicrobial light to reduce bacteria/microbes from surfaces. This technology will be tested on an Access Link paratransit minibus, a local transit bus, and within common areas throughout NJ Transit corporate buildings (i.e. elevators, restrooms).”
  • Knorr Merak: “Uses a three-stage air filtration and purification system to mitigate COVID-19. The air filtration technology will be piloted on a light rail car and a passenger rail car.”
  • Piper: “Provides video analytics and collects real time passenger counts from trains and platforms for integration with mobile apps. NJ Transit is investigating the implementation of this technology on the River Line. This can also be used to report on time performance.”
  • Strongarm: “Develops wearable technology that emits physical distancing alerts and can be used to collect data for contact tracing. The proof of concept for this technology will be a select set of floors in NJ Transit Headquarters at 1 Penn Plaza in Newark.”

The four companies were selected from a pool of eight finalists after a global search as part of the COVID-19 Response Challenge issued earlier this year by Transit Tech Lab, a program of the Transit Innovation Partnership, a public-private sector initiative created to improve public transit.

In addition to NJ Transit, other participating agencies included the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York City Department of Transportation and the NYC Dept. of Education.

“This group of companies, and the technologies they developed, reveal the tremendous promise of the Transit Innovation Partnership – especially today, as transit agencies around the world work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett, who recovered from his own bout with the virus in April.

“These technologies have the potential to join all the innovative efforts already underway at NJ Transit to fight COVID-19,” Corbett added.

According to NJ Transit, since the onset of the pandemic, the agency has been “aggressively” investigating new technology to see if it can protect customers and employees from the virus.

  • Commissioned a study with Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) on the use of Ultraviolet-C (UVC) for disinfecting the bus fleet
  • Expanding contactless fare payment options with the introduction of new Ticket Vending Machines
  • Installing onboard bus ticket validators
  • Distributing handheld mobile devices to train crews, which scan and validate paper and mobile tickets without any personal contact

Send local news tips and correction requests to eric.kiefer@patch.com

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