David Stone
At 3:30, a long line snaked away from the Tram.
At 3:30, a long line snaked away from the Tram.
© Deborah Julian/Roosevelt Island Daily

When signal problems brought F Trains through the 63rd Street tunnel serving Roosevelt Island to a halt, just before 3:00 p.m., yesterday, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC) acted quickly. They sent out an advisory letting subscribers know about the shutdown, and then...

First, a failure to solve a looming crisis...

Not for the first time, the state agency, in its failure to follow through and assist stranded travelers, demonstrated the general cluelessness for which its been criticized -- to no avail -- again and again.

While lines stretched away from both the Tram and subway stations and with passengers stranded in the dark, deep underground, RIOC got busy... promoting their latest RIOC News marketing piece and announcing charging stations now available in Motorgate.

You know, big news for those of us parking our electric vehicles in the parking garage. And just for the record, they'd been operating for over a month, but the brain trust at 591 Main Street just got around to telling the tiny percent of drivers needing them.

But they bragged about this great environment achievement, anyway, in a wordy online post ghosted for acting president/CEO Shelton Haynes.

A half-hour after the F trains stalled, stranded riders outside the subway station. Their only guidance: "Take the Q102" from a RIOC Red Bus driver.
A half-hour after the F trains stalled, stranded riders outside the subway station. Their only guidance: "Take the Q102" from a RIOC Red Bus driver.
© Deborah Julian/Roosevelt Island Daily

In the meantime, Red Bus drivers, apparently without guidance from management, innovated, telling anxious travelers at the subway station to take the Q102, but how many actually know where the MTA bus route goes? And in which direction?

Abundant and multiple failures...

Almost forgotten in this potentially tragic failure was an advisory RIOC punched out on Sunday afternoon: "The Manhattan Side Tram Elevator is out of service until further notice. An advisory will be sent when service is restored."

Four days later, RIOC has done nothing to make the Tram accessible for anyone who can't climb three flights of stairs. No shuttles. No advisories. No nothing. 

This is RIOC at its worst, indifferent to the basic needs of residents but keen on burnishing its image. And utterly clueless about its own uselessness in a crisis.

Look, RIOC's been here for decades. There have been countless subway outages and enough elevator breakdowns to fill a dozen incident log books, but they have never come up with an emergency or even a contingency plan for dealing with any of it.

They have, however, repeatedly apologized and promised to "look into it," but nothing's ever done.

Think about it this way: Is there any reason why RIOC can't have a plan in effect to instantly convert a circling Red Bus into a Manhattan/Roosevelt Island shuttle until the emergency passes? 

Of course not, and there's only one reason why this or a similar plan has never been put in place. RIOC's all-outsider staff is acutely unaware of and/or indifferent to community needs.

Wrap around...

Late last evening, our reader Sylvan Klein egged a response from Sarah Meyer, who bills herself as "Chief Customer Officer for NYC Transit..."

F Train Shutdown, Roosevelt Island's Vulnerability and RIOC's Years Long Failure To Plan
Screenshot courtesy of Sylvan Klein

Uh-huh...

And while you're at it, Sarah, can you wake up RIOC and talk with them about the responsibilities inherent in public service. 

Spilling out advisories is no substitute for acting responsibly when needs arise.

Oh, and by the way, RIOC, where were you when they taught that lesson in Civics 101?