On Day One of our no subway weekend, the simple answer is “Not much.” Smaller than feared crowds showed up, and plans by RIOC and the MTA, mitigating traffic issues, mostly worked.
By David Stone
No subway weekend, Day One
MTA shuttle buses rolled up Main Street all day, taking passengers across the East River to Queens Plaza and back. Multiple subway lines there filled in for F trains detouring away from Roosevelt Island.
And RIOC added Red Bus shuttles between Tram Plazas, helping relieve some demand. But that success was limited by a familiar nemesis: heavy traffic over the Queensboro Bridge.
NYC Ferry kept to its normal local schedule, and there were no reported incidents of crowding or delays.
This is late afternoon, but lines like this built up all day. RIOC, however, kept things moving smoothly and fast. Fifteen minutes after lining up here, we were in a not too crowded tram on our way home.
Congestion delays getting on and off Roosevelt Island were serious concerns, but with some unavoidable inconveniences, the state agencies handled them well.
And a combination of cooler weather, some showers and cherry blossoms well past peak discouraged flocks of visitors.
Although Sunday’s weather will be better, conditions aren’t expected to escalate into a danger zone.
RIOC Report Card
RIOC did well at managing the Tram issues, but after that, it’s a mixed bag.
“PSD officers will be present at each station and will enforce social distancing,” RIOC promised.
Well, yes and no.
Officers were there, and they courteously and efficiently controlled lines inside the Tram Stations. But outside, there were no efforts at enforcing social distancing.
In fact, when we waited in line on 2nd Avenue, social distancing would’ve sent the line trailing down 60th Street almost to Lexington. That wasn’t the case, and if you look at the photo above, you’ll see people jammed tight on the stairway.
No PSD officers were in sight until we reached the platform upstairs.
Also, according to RIOC, “Citations will be issued to any cyclist/motorized scooters who do not adhere to NYC bike laws.”
That was no more true than it’s ever been as RIOC promises but never delivers.
You didn’t have to look hard to find bike riders routinely pedalling the wrong way down one-way streets, dodging traffic, even with PSD officers standing there watching them. PSD’s carelessness was especially worrisome after dark.
Bicyclists without headlights repeatedly cruised the narrow one-way lane between the subway and tram stations. No officers interfered, and really, it’s just a matter of time.
And for Day Two?
Fair weather and an expectation of both RIOC and the MTA again executing their plans effectively mean delays, but not too much, getting on and off Roosevelt Island.
And if you’re riding a bike, be careful, follow the rules and be courteous. Your self-enforcement is all we’ve got.