Equipment Damage Stirs Discussion at RIOC

Why Is the North Tram Cabin Limited to 50% Capacity?

Updated 45 weeks ago David Stone
Roosevelt Island Tram's north cabin limited to 50% capacity.
Roosevelt Island Tram's north cabin limited to 50% capacity.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

As we reported on Saturday, rider load capacity on the north cabin of the Roosevelt Island Tram was restricted by 50% at around 7:00 p.m., the evening before. No reason was offered, raising concerns about possible safety hazards. But on Sunday, PSD Chief Jack McManus called The Daily to explain.

The holiday weekend left RIOC with a skeleton staff faced with handling two Tram related challenges on Friday evening. Not only was there a problem with the north cabin, but the elevator broke down.

Why Is the North Tram Cabin Limited to 50% Capacity?

Working quickly with Tram operator Leitner-Poma, RIOC scrambled to get shuttle buses going to transport physically challenged and other passengers to and from Roosevelt Island. The elevator was returned to service overnight.

The cabin problem could not be resolved as quickly.

After taking a tour with a Leitner-Poma manager on Saturday, Chief McManus called to explain. Here is what we wrote on Sunday:

Public Safety Chief Jack McManus called The Daily yesterday to explain the mechanical problem that lead to Friday's restrictions on capacity on the north cabin. We're happy to report that there is and has not been any risk to rider safety. The cause is a gearbox, one of a pair that supports cabin operations, discovered to be malfunctioning late Friday. It's out of service until a replacement arrives. In the meantime, that means an extra load on the remaining gearbox.

Best practices suggest lessening the strain (and reducing the risk of a second breakdown) by cutting back the passenger load, which is what RIOC will be doing until repairs bring the broken gearbox back on line. This should be a factor only during peak periods and affects only the one cabin.

This prompted a discussion at RIOC's Operations Committee meeting, last evening, spurred by a Roosevelt Islander readers' query, passed on by the blog's editor.

Somewhat surprisingly, no one present knew anything about the restrictions, including President/CEO Susan Rosenthal who lamented longstanding frustrations with communications from the Tram's operators. (It appears that Leitner-Poma did communicate promptly with PSD on Friday but dropped the ball, after that.)

The situation extended Board Member Mike Shinozaki's complaints about poor performance from RIOC's contractors.

Leitner-Poma's contract, he said, calls for them to have critical spare parts on hand to avoid extended shutdowns. Moreover, proper maintenance of the gearbox should have prevented a breakdown in the first place.

No timeframe has been announced for returning the north cabin to normal operations.

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