Schedule Adjustment Adds Extra Stop

"Octagon Express" No Longer Express

Updated 17 weeks ago David Stone
Octagon Express buses ease the sting of subway access for Roosevelt Island's northernmost housing complex.
Octagon Express buses ease the sting of subway access for Roosevelt Island's northernmost housing complex.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

When The Octagon first opened, managers faced a challenge in finding renters willing to accept long distances to reach the Roosevelt Island subway station. RIOC helped by adding express bus service at 20 minute intervals during morning rush. Now, that assistance is being modified.

With little public notice, Red Buses marked "OCTAGON EXPRESS" have recently been seen making local stops on the way to the subway, including 10 River Road, probably the busiest of all Main Street stops, and Good Shepherd Plaza, just a few hundred feet and easy walking distance from the subway.

It's been raised as an issue because express service has helped residents for over a decade, and The Octagon, unlike most Roosevelt Island complexes, pays extra for RIOC provided transportation.

But express service was never guaranteed.

"Octagon pays a Monthly Bus Payment ( Section 3.01 (vi) of the Ground Lease)" RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal explained to The Daily, "but there is no obligation that we run an express bus.  In the original ground lease the monthly fee for bus service was $100,000 and increases 2% each year."

In RIOC's 2019/20 budget, that's projected to bring $128,000 into RIOC's coffers, money that's ultimately collected in resident lease payments.

(The Octagon also foots a bill for independent shuttle bus services to supplement Red Buses on weekends.)

"We receive the bus payment," Rosenthal added, going on to quote from the lease, "so long as we provide bus service 'of a similar nature to that provided … to other residents…'"

Asked about thinking in making the change, Rosenthal explained, "There are 4 local busses and 1 express during morning rush hour.

"The Octagon express is never totally full when it passes the Chapel, while ( before adding the one stop), it was not unusual for there to be insufficient space to accommodate all the passengers waiting for the bus at the Chapel when the local arrives; as a result, the local left passengers at that stop – requiring them to wait for the next bus. 

"By adding the one stop to the express, no one is left behind and the only harm to Octagon residents is an additional 1-2 minutes that it takes to load passengers at the Chapel.  We thought in the spirit of being good neighbors, adding the one stop made good sense."


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