NJ Transit: Protecting Riders, Employees with New Tech

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
NJ Transit is testing new technologies, such as video analytics and air purification, across its network, including the River LINE.

NJ Transit is testing new technologies, such as video analytics and air purification, across its network, including the River LINE.

New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) will participate in a multi-week test of new technologies—from air purification to antimicrobial light—to help protect employees and riders during the pandemic. It is part of the COVID-19 Response Challenge that launched in July.

Eight firms were finalists of the Challenge, which is run by the Transit Tech Lab, along with NJ Transit, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Department of Education. NJ Transit selected four for its pilot.

They are:

• Vyv: A proprietary LED antimicrobial light, which is said to reduce bacteria/microbes from surfaces, will be tested on an Access Link paratransit minibus, a local transit bus, and within the common areas (elevators, restrooms, etc.) of NJ Transit corporate buildings.

• Knorr Merak: A three-stage air filtration and purification system will be tested on a light rail vehicle and commuter railcar.

Piper: The River LINE may be the testing ground for video analytics and the collection of real-time passenger counts from trains and platforms for integration with mobile apps.  

 Strongarm: Wearable technology that “emits physical distancing alerts” and can be used to collect data for contact tracing will be tested on select floors of the NJ Transit headquarters building in Newark.

Following testing, technologies that “have proven to be successful” may be selected for an extended yearlong pilot, according to NJ Transit.

NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett

“These technologies have the potential to join all the innovative efforts already under way at NJ Transit to fight COVID-19,” NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett said.

Since the pandemic’s onset, the agency has commissioned, with Rutgers University’s Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), a study on the use of Ultraviolet-C (UVC) for disinfecting the bus fleet; added a mobile-app feature that allows riders to report and view capacity levels on buses and trains, so they can make more informed social-distancing decisions; expanded contactless fare-payment options with new ticket vending machines, onboard bus ticket validators, and handheld mobile devices that allow train crews to scan and validate paper and mobile tickets without personal contact.

In other developments, the New Jersey Transit Board of Directors recently approved a $2.6 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2021 and a five-year capital plan.

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