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Digital Transformation for Urban Transportation


Transforming a System for Millions of Riders

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority serves over 15 million people across 5,000 square miles. Made up of New York City’s subways and buses, bridges and tunnels, the Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad, the MTA is North America’s most expansive mass transit system.

The MTA communicates with its riders in myriad ways, and massive amounts of energy and resources pour into gathering, coordinating, and disseminating information.

As part of a transformation initiative, the MTA set out to install over 50,000 digital screens across its entire network.

Postlight joined as a partner to transform its rider engagement platform — a critical tool to keep riders informed and lines running smoothly.


Building a Single Source of Truth

Typical enterprise ecosystems are a patchwork of software, built long ago to meet a fast-approaching obstacle. But to plan for the future, enterprises must be thoughtful about technology.

On a tight schedule, as the first screens were installed across New York, we put forward a strategy to create a unified, data-driven messaging platform that could power every channel: social media, email, websites, apps, and digital screens.

As a single source of truth, this message would be written once and published across multiple endpoints.


Defining Simplicity

With a clear strategy in hand, we deployed teams across parallel tracks.

Our team of product designers fanned out to observe and interview users within the MTA. We internalized their goals and came to understand their pain points. Through collaborative iteration, our research drove a design that greatly simplified message creation and publication.

Meanwhile, our team of software engineers began architecting a modern, flexible software platform using technologies like GraphQL and React — empowering legacy systems with powerful new tools. Thanks to our continuous deployments, MTA teams could test and provide feedback after only a few months.


MTA Mercury, a Powerhouse Communication Tool

The result is MTA Mercury, an incredibly powerful messaging and communication platform. It’s ready to populate the apps of today and tomorrow, along with the wave of digital screens coming to New York over the next few years.

As the MTA continues to transform itself into a digital-first organization, Mercury provides a flexible and extensible messaging infrastructure. As rider habits and expectations evolve and grow, Mercury is ready to meet the challenges of the future.