Complete Tram Shutdown Announced for Sunday, February 24th

Tram Shutdown Update: RIOC Can't Get Out of It's Own Way

Updated 29 weeks ago David Stone
Total Tram shutdown announced for Sunday, February 24th.
Total Tram shutdown announced for Sunday, February 24th.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Released after hours on Friday in detail indicating they knew about it well before, RIOC announced critical changes in the Tram shutdown plan, just a week into the project, then contradicted themselves less than two hours later, saying the Tram will be completely shutdown Sunday on a single day's notice.

RIOC Disdain for Resident Concerns During Shutdown

Disdain for the public's need to have up to date information is baked into RIOC's politically tuned habit of releasing bad news after hours on Fridays. Since the offices at 591 Main are dark by then, it's likely the email blasts are set up and timed for release after RIOC execs have cleared out for the weekend, giving angry, inconvenienced residents a couple of days to cool down.

But as everyone in this business knows, it's also a time when fewer are paying attention to the news, their thoughts turned to weekend plans and family. RIOC's practice virtually guarantees the fewest number of readers.

What's New for the Tram Shutdown?

Most immediately, residents and visitors will be slammed with a total Tram shutdown tomorrow, February 24th. Just an hour and a half after promising there would be no shutdowns with less than 48 hours notice, RIOC broke that promise with a single day's notice and nary an apology. It's like it never happened.

Except it did.

RIOC promised Red Bus shuttle service between the Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza and the corner of 58th Street and 2nd Avenue, from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Need to get somewhere before 8:00 or late in the evening? Take your chances on the F Train, which early today broke down for the third time in a week, or stay home.

RIOC's not covering the full schedule of shut down Trams because, one might guess, the $14 million bike ramp State agency, doesn't want to pay for it.

Limited Red Bus service will be provided at RIOC's convenience.
Limited Red Bus service will be provided at RIOC's convenience.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Buckle up: RIOC warns that there will be four of these total shutdowns of uncertain duration, and RIOC being RIOC, Leitner-POMA being Leitner-POMA, thank whatever God or fates you count on if it really turns out to be that few.

Or that we get the promised 48-hour notice in the future.

In other shutdown highlights...

"Due to the limited standing room on the Manhattan Tram station platform, passengers will be queuing on street level," RIOC said, and yes, it's still February.

"Leitner-POMA (Don't laugh.) and Roosevelt Island Public Safety officers will help provide directions to passengers entering and exiting both stations." Rumor has it that giant directional arrows with handles are being fabricated.

Manhattan Tram Plaza Elevators: "There will be limited accessibility to these elevators..." Translation: they won't be working. "...during the construction period. Passengers with mobility limitations are encouraged to utilize alternate transportation options which include: F train, Ferry (Astoria Line), Q102 MTA Bus, Red Bus Shuttle, or to contact the Public Safety Department at 212-832-4545 in the case of an emergency."

...And here's a big, undated hit for you:

MTA Machines and Turnstiles: "During a period of the project schedule, passengers will not have access to turnstiles and MetroCard machines. The purchase of Metrocards will not be available on either side during those times."

Have fun, Roosevelt Island, figuring out when that "period of the project schedule" might be and how you will board without turnstiles. RIOC offers not the slightest clue.

Finally, a treat for port-a-potty fans...

Roosevelt Island Station Restrooms: Temporary restrooms will be available near the Roosevelt Island Tram station and will remain for the duration of the project.

Conclusion

Just a week after starting what looked like a fairly innocuous partial Tram shutdown, RIOC's ramping it up to a level that threatens disasters at multiple levels. The intuition you have that the State agency doesn't know what it's doing and/or is being manipulated by a contractor is not an intuition; it's your rational mind telling you what's obvious behind the curtain.

First, how does Leitner-POMA get away with it again? This is the second phase of a longterm project by a contractor who's been managing the Tram for a decade. How were they allowed to start a project that appears to have the flimsiest of planning in place, so flimsy it had to undergo major adjustments in less than a week?

Anyone minding the store, RIOC?

Optimists may think RIOC just learned about all this, late on Friday. Optimists are wrong. Red Bus service and work crews had to be established and a neatly detailed "RIOC News" release had to be created. These things aren't done in an hour. RIOC knew about the Sunday shutdown long before they told us.

One final note, in spite of RIOC's promises of F Train reliability, based on promises secured from its always trustworthy sister State agency, the MTA, subway service has broken down at least three times in the first week, most recently this morning at 3:00 a.m.

F Trains also bypassed Roosevelt Island southbound for a couple of hours, without so much as an email alert, last Sunday afternoon, and overnight for repairs on the first day of the Tram shutdown.

These things will happen again, and they will happen at less opportune times.

And as we observed, RIOC will be completely oblivious, leaving us to fend for ourselves, isolated on an Island, not a giant problem for some, but unimaginably painful for the frail, physically challenged and elderly this community was specifically designed to accommodate wisely.

Tram Shutdown Update: RIOC Can't Get Out of It's Own Way
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