An Assist, Not a Solution

Update on the Update: Red Bus Schedules & Tram Repairs

Updated 13 weeks ago Peter McCarthy
Be Prepared: Crowded F Trains prevented some boarding in morning rush while the Tram was partially shut down in December. It was inconvenient, but not critical.
Be Prepared: Crowded F Trains prevented some boarding in morning rush while the Tram was partially shut down in December. It was inconvenient, but not critical.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

After our report on RIOC's plan to provide free Red Bus shuttle services during the six months when Tram Station repairs will take place, you asked some questions. We got some answers.

  • The buses will run on weekdays only, starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Roosevelt Island Tram Station and shuttling back and forth from the Manhattan side with the last bus from 2nd Avenue leaving around 8:30 p.m. Inevitably, traffic conditions, especially over the bridge, will affect any and all schedules throughout the day. No holiday or weekend shuttles.
  • RIOC looked at starting earlier in the day, but Cy Opperman, who oversees the buses, reluctantly advised, "If we send the red bus from RI to Manhattan before 10:00 a.m., because of the traffic over the 59th Street Bridge into Manhattan, we lose the use of the bus for hours." Our own experience during the 2010 Tram shut down tells us the same thing.
  • Tram Station repairs limiting us to a single cabin at any one time are expected to last roughly six months. Cabin repairs, late last year, took exactly as long as RIOC said they would. These are more complicated, but we don't think the estimate is sugar coated.
  • What happens if the Subway goes down? "We have had continuous dialog with the MTA and will continue to do so through the completion of this project," promises RIOC Vice President Shelton Haynes. All contingencies are impossible to project, but during recent F Train woes, RIOC has been quick to step up with extra buses and faster Tram turnarounds.

Summary: RIOC's Red Bus shuttle service will be an aid, not a solution, and is likely to be adversely affected by unpredictable traffic across the Queensboro Bridge. Although Citywide Ferry Service, beginning next month, will relieve some pressure on the system, F Trains will be at maximum capacity and over, especially during morning rush.

We will be inconvenienced, no question. The repairs are necessary. It was only a question of when, not if.

But seven years ago, we got by without any Trams at all for nine months. On the upside, we made a lot of new friends while sharing the experience, inching across the bridge together.

Special note: This is a grueling experience for the bus drivers. One trip across the Queensboro Bridge every few weeks is enough to get most of us committed to public transit. Our guys will be doing it all day. Be patient and appreciate their efforts.