OMNY for the Tram and Other RIOC Financial Revelations

OMNY for the Tram and Other RIOC Financial Revelations

Some unexpected RIOC financial revelations spilled out of a recent Audit Committee meeting covering next year’s budget. OMNY and the Tram were top of the list.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

RIOC Financial Revelations, OMNY and the Tram

Roosevelt Island Tram MetroCard-only readers
OMNY readers allow easy payment options, using credit cards and smartphone apps. The Roosevelt Island Tram remains the only MetroCard only orphan within the MTA system.

As reported, last week, frustrations over the absence of OMNY at Roosevelt Island Tram turnstiles are growing. With all MTA turnstiles and buses having OMNY touch pads for payment by the end of last year, the Tram’s a MetroCard only orphan.

The reasons, now exposed, make it worse than you think

OMNY expands payment options for riders on mass transit and eases transfers. But although a contract with the MTA is in place, the Tram got left out of the mix. RIOC financial revelations expose how internal malfunction helped create the problem for riders, but they also reveal a significant and ongoing loss of revenue.

As RIOC CFO John O’Reilly explained it, RIOC’s stuck on an agreement signed a decade ago that brought MetroCard to the Tram. A triumph at the time, it made transfers with subways and buses simple and added shared revenues benefiting RIOC.

But there’s a problem former president/CEO Susan Rosenthal discussed at a board meeting in the past. That is, the contract includes no automatic escalation clause. And because fares rose several times since, RIOC’s gotten shorted, receiving only the original amount.

In fact, the MTA gets $2.75 every time anyone swipes a MetroCard to get on the Tram, but RIOC still gets only the original $2.00. It’s sister state agency keeps the rest.

Malfunction Beyond Belief

Although the shortfall was known by RIOC management since the first fare increase, nothing got done about it, but recent mistakes reach even deeper. While blaming the lack of OMNY for a budget shortfall, O’Reilly said that RIOC has not been in contact with the MTA since before the pandemic.

That’s right. While sacrificing $.75 every Tram ride, RIOC failed to act for over a year and a half as OMNY reached everywhere else in the system.

Earlier this month, however, RIOC president/CEO Shelton J. Haynes told a resident, “Roosevelt Island is on the list to get OMNY. Unfortunately, we are going to get those upgrades until next year.”

While Haynes mistakenly omitted a “not,” his claim is clear but apparently untrue. Out of touch hardly explains it.

As of this date, OMNY status is as up in the air as a Tram cabin, and thanks to a hopelessly un-inquisitive board, no discussion of how the screw up happened or who was at fault ensued… as RIOC held steadfast in its role as the state agency that has never made a mistake.

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