Refuses to Help with Shuttle Buses When F Trains Are Canceled

RIOC Blows It As Long Lines Pile Up at Ferry and Tram, On Saturday

Updated 11 weeks ago David Stone
Lines to board NYC Ferry stretched to the end of the entrance bridge.
Lines to board NYC Ferry stretched to the end of the entrance bridge.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

As many Roosevelt Islanders predicted, lines piled up on Saturday as people wanting to get off the Island dealt with limited options. RIOC, turning away appeals for shuttle bus relief, gave rationales that suggest a decision came first, then was followed by a scramble for butt-covering explanations. The plight of many mobility restricted residents seems to have been brushed aside or simply not considered at all.

"You're a spoiled community," RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal told one longtime resident who came to her office on Friday. "You don't know how good you've got it."

At the risk of annoying fellow Islanders, I don't completely disagree with Rosenthal. What other community has free shuttle buses, day and night, taking people from public transit to near their doors?

And what other community has the polished, effective security we get from Public Safety?

Long lines waiting to board the next Tram. Over fifty would be left behind on every trip. Very few elderly. No one in a wheelchair even tried.
Long lines waiting to board the next Tram. Over fifty would be left behind on every trip. Very few elderly. No one in a wheelchair even tried.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

But while this and more may be true, this mindset at RIOC contributes to reinforcing poor decisions that should be reviewed and corrected.

RIOC Mansplains

With what appears to be at least partial blindness to the kinds of people filling up our community, the density of disabled and elderly who depend on safe, easy transportation, here is RIOC Vice President Shelton Haynes's reasons for refusing to schedule any shuttle bus services:

  • Insufficient number of available Bus drivers
  • Ferry service runs every half hour
  • Shuttle bus analysis indicated low ridership except during weekday rush hours
  • The Q102 runs from Roosevelt Island to Queens Plaza which is a transfer option
  • F-train from Roosevelt Island station to Roosevelt Ave (estimated to be approximately 12 minutes) Travelers to Roosevelt Ave can transfer to the Manhattan bound F-train

In other words, RIOC fell back on trite and obvious answers to rationalize a decision convenient for them, adding a mind-bending apples to oranges example from weekday experience without any subway restrictions, perhaps just to prove they weren't really thinking.

Shuffling up to the turnstiles in hope of getting on the arriving Tram.
Shuffling up to the turnstiles in hope of getting on the arriving Tram.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

And, I confess, the first one left me wondering who was running the show at RIOC. Do drivers set their own work schedules, or was there really something else going on?

Worst of all, what does this example tell us about what will happen when the subway has a more complete shutdown as experience tells us it very likely will?

Will we be dependent on a decision by drivers as to whether they'd like to come to work? It looked more like RIOC was trying to fix blame on drivers for their own managerial decision.

The Mess RIOC Made Is Worse Than It Looks

Up to 100 left behind when each Tram departs.
Up to 100 left behind when each Tram departs.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

What you can see from the photos is that, despite options suggested by Haynes, none of which were unknown to us, shuttle buses could have eased discomfort and difficulties for hundreds.

But beyond the tedious delays hides another story that needs to be told.

Look again at the long lines. You may notice what I did by the time I finally shuffled onto a packed Tram.

There were almost no elderly or people with physical limitations to be found. (I saw one women struggling with a cane, out of hundreds, and not a single wheelchair.)

My conclusion, and I'm confident I'm right about this, is that RIOC's callous decision means an entire weekend of isolation for a large and needy segment of our neighbors who might have traveled easy on buses, had they been offered.

This amounts to a failed core responsibility by RIOC, a State agency that claims to listen to the community. 

And One More Thing...

Do you remember RIOC's pledge to schedule weekend work to expedite Tram platform repairs?

Not a single person was working on the platforms on Saturday afternoon.

Are we spoiled as a community? Maybe, but maybe, also, RIOC's non-resident work force caught the same disease.

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