Low Demand Cited

RIOC Cancels Afternoon Shuttles Between Tram Stations

Updated 33 weeks ago David Stone
June 1st will be the last day for Tram-related shuttle bus services.
June 1st will be the last day for Tram-related shuttle bus services.
File photo

The news was not universally well-received. "Beginning Monday, June 4, the Tram shuttle, a round-trip Red Bus to the Midtown Manhattan Tram Station that ran during the weekday afternoon rush hour, will no longer be in operation due to insufficient demand," RIOC announced in an advisory late Thursday. We received our first complaint 17 minutes later.

"Low ridership doesn't make this right," a resident wrote. "Are they truly short of buses ? Maybe short of drivers...?"

Referring to the shuttle, she continued, "This has been badly publicized by them for this particular shutdown. (It's) bad for even the few for whom the subway is inconvenient, bad for wheelchair-users, walker-users, others with appliance-dependent disabilities, bad for stroller-pushers too."

Asked to better define "insufficient demand," RIOC's Public Information Officer Alonzo Robertson told The Daily, "Very few people were riding it compared to the long lines of people waiting on the Roosevelt Island side, some for long periods, for a Red Bus to get home."

Robertson did not have immediate access to a report used to justify the decision but noted personally seeing as few as three or four people using the shuttle at one time.

And several people confirmed stories of Red Buses on regular Main Street circuits so full by the time they reached the subway all waiting passengers were unable to board. The most aggravating incidents occurred during rush hour, made worse by congestion increased by Roosevelt Island Bridge helix repairs.

"The bus will be re-inserted into the Island's Red Bus rotation to help alleviate evening commuters’ wait times at the RI Tram Station during the current platform construction period," RIOC said.

That's good news for riders in general, while bad for a smaller number of residents that have problems with access to or in riding the subway.

It also suggests something not quite satisfying.

The decision to re-insert the shuttle "into the Island's Red Bus rotation" tells us that the shuttle was never an extra contributed by RIOC to help residents cope with limited Tram service during platform repairs. The State agency, which treats itself to a large fleet of vehicles for their own use on a two mile long, single road island, robbed Peter to pay Paul.

No wonder passengers were being stranded at the subway, their needs forced to compete with those of elderly, disabled and other travel-challenged residents and visitors.

"These are solvable problems regardless of the single-cabin/platform issue," our reader complained. "Of course, they (RIOC) consulted with no one. They never do despite plenty of public shaming."

The decision to end shuttle services, effective Monday, June 4th, was apparently made without tapping the Disabled Association, the Senior Association of the Common Council for consideration.


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