We Need To Adjust Now

Take 1 Tram, 10 Deep Breaths and Wake Up In The Morning

Updated 13 weeks ago Peter McCarthy
Relax. It's Going To Get Worse Before It Gets Better.
Relax. It's Going To Get Worse Before It Gets Better.

Again, this past weekend, with service down to a single Tram cabin, long lines increased frustrations. But that wasn't the biggest surprise, and worse is yet to come. First, though, I need to tell you a joke.

One spring, with the Mississippi overflowing its flood plain, voluntary evacuation orders went out.

But at one location, a homeowner refused to board a bus the county supplied to take people to shelters while roads were still open.

"No," the man said, folding his arms in refusal. "I prayed. God's going to help me."

Two days later, muddy river water filling his first floor, he refused to climb aboard a rescue boat.

"God's going to help me," he reminded the National Guard volunteers.

Finally, a helicopter was flown in to lift him from the roof of his completely flooded home, but again, he waved them off.

Seconds later, the house's foundation gave way, and the man was swept away in the flood.

Instantly, he found himself standing before God in the afterlife, but he didn't give the Divinity time to speak.

Instead, he howled, "Why didn't you save me? I prayed..."

God interrupted.

"Listen, genius. First, I sent a bus. Then, I sent a boat..."

Getting the Message

So, here on Roosevelt Island, in a secular version, we have an analogy. 

First, RIOC alerted the community that necessary Tram Station repairs required that one cabin operating must be out of service at any given time.

Then, they posted a definitive starting and projected end date. For six months, Tram traffic would be reduced by half. Shuttle buses were scheduled as free alternatives to and from Second Avenue, but so few people rode, service was reduced.

The Roosevelt Islander posted information about the repair schedule and hosted a lively debate about its merits. We wrote about it, multiple times, here. Even the well-rested Main Street WIRE filled up a weighty column with details, well in advance.

But from Day One, angry, delayed Tram riders posted photos and dismaying observations about long lines to board. Plenty of anger in the mix too.

An investment in overtime for workers doing repairs reduced the expected downtime by a month. No apparent easing of tensions ensued.

Let's Get Serious

No amount of anger or RIOC-bashing changes the fact that, for the most part, we will have to get by with a single operating cabin until after the First of the Year.

And there is no evidence of an evil plot to destroy the spirits of local residents. The greater danger, in the long run, was always in not having the deteriorating and dangerous platforms rebuilt in a timely manner.

Broken concrete and fractured sealant don't fix themselves. They do the opposite.

Repairs to infrastructure happen. Upstate, endless Thruway repairs leave drivers stranded in equally endless traffic jams repeatedly. It happens.

And it's about to get worse.

After Labor Day, schools reopen, most everyone comes home from vacations and diplomats and foreign students return to New York for work and study. Each item adds significantly to demand on public transportation.

It's going to get ugly. Unless we decide to grin and bear it.

Instead of a full shutdown for repairs, RIOC arranged to keep the system going, if reduced by half. F Trains have been - amazingly - without significant delays or breakdowns for weeks.

August 29th, NYC Ferry adds a new, limited option for us.

Shuttle buses still run from afternoon into evening, and when you're not in a huge rush, the Q102 bus will take you to Queens Plaza and all kinds of connections from there.

We have roughly two weeks to take deep breaths and get our perspectives refocused. Or we've got a long season of misery and frustration to grumble through.

We may not have both Tram cabins, but we've got choices about how we deal with it.

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