Disregard for Roosevelt Island's Unique Issues

MTA Sticks It To Us Again With F Train Detours, This Weekend

Updated 4 weeks ago David Stone
Our filthy station will still look like hell, but no trains on this platform, this weekend.
Our filthy station will still look like hell, but no trains on this platform, this weekend.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

With the Roosevelt Island Tram unlikely to return to full service as hoped by Saturday, the MTA's decision to junk Manhattan bound F Trains, beginning Friday at 11:45 p.m. means another weekend of transportation headaches for us.

Update, April 18th, 4:15 p.m.: RIOC comes through with shuttle bus help, this weekend:

"Please be advised that, due to a planned F train service disruption, we will be adding free Red Bus shuttles this Saturday, April 20th and Sunday, April 21st, to and from the RI and Manhattan Tram stations." 

The first shuttle bus leaves the Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza at 11:00 a.m. with the last leaving Second Avenue at 8:30. 

Although the pains will not approach last Saturday's historic underground traffic jam, exasperation will be unavoidable as the paucity of good alternatives for getting across that short stretch of water between Manhattan islands looms large.

It will be, again, especially hard on frail, elderly and physically challenged residents.

We've got some suggestions, but first, let's set the stage with the MTA's cryptic, bloodless, barely helpful notice.

Coney Island-bound F trains will be rerouted via the E from Roosevelt Av to Canal St, then via the A to Jay St-MetroTech because of electrical improvements.
Use the D or a Jamaica-bound F to complete your trip.
Use A/C/E stations along 8 Av or transfer at Roosevelt Av, 7 Av D/F, W 4 St D/F, or Jay St-MetroTech.

Okay, if you're a long time resident or New Yorker, you may get it, but imagine you're a visitor hoping to check out Roosevelt Island, maybe considering living here or looking to enjoy peaking cherry blossoms without the suffocating crowds... Try to translate whatever language the MTA is speaking here.

So, because the MTA doesn't much care, here are your best alternatives...

  • Awkward though it is, the easiest and likely fastest way to get over to the big island is to take a Queens-bound F out to Roosevelt Avenue and make a free transfer to any of several Manhattan-bound trains, including an F using the 53rd Street Tunnel with a first stop at Fifth Avenue.
  • We love NYC Ferry, but it runs only at 45 minute intervals on weekends and may leave you feeling stranded at 34th or Wall Streets. You can check the boarding schedule here.
  • Your next best option, if you can wait twenty minutes or so, depending on the time of day or night, is a Q102 bus, which takes a short, five to ten minute hop over to Queens Plaza where you have a choice of E, F and R trains into Manhattan.
  • Often your best option is the Tram, of course, but RIOC tells us that they are "not confident" that they'll be ready to return to both cabins to full service in time to provide any weekend relief. That suggests unacceptably long lines on a day when rain is predicted.

None of these strike us as attractive options, and the MTA's cool indifference to Roosevelt Island's unique transportation challenges isn't likely to change soon or, realistically, ever. 

And don't buy the elected officials' smoke screen about developing better infrastructure. Generations of politicians have been cranking that one out for decades. If any of them had been effective, we wouldn't be facing another traffic deficit again this weekend.

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