From RIOC two days later, a lazy Tram shutdown advisory…

From RIOC two days later, a lazy Tram shutdown advisory…

A lazy Tram shutdown advisory made its way out from behind the RIOC bunker, two days after we reported it and at least ten days after they knew about it. It was so RIOC, leaving more questions than it answered.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

female office worker relaxing with feet on table
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The Shutdown Advisory

RIOC’s acclaimed Communications Team did not act fast enough to save its disconnected CEO from embarrassing himself. At the state agency’s October board meeting, Shelton J. Haynes mumbled through an announcement. The Tram would shut down for two weeks on November for track rope work.

CFO John O’Reilly rescued him, reminding the $200K/year exec that it was a partial shutdown. One cabin will run at all times. Then, Haynes, whose awareness appears dependent on reading from PowerPoint slides developed by someone else, mumbled hopefully, “Three weeks…?”

Maybe O’Reilly didn’t know the answer, but in any case, he did not bale his boss out, this time.

The belated shutdown advisory says it’s at least six weeks, beginning Monday, November 15th and running through the end of the year.

Who’s Afraid of Roosevelt Island?

One disconnection oddity – The term “R.I.” pops up seven times and “Roosevelt Island” twice and only at the bottom: Tip for the Acclaimed Communications Team: It’s the Roosevelt Island Tram, not the R.I. Tram.

In a shutdown advisory euphemistically titled “Upcoming Tram Maintenance,” RIOC niftily side steps responsibility. “Monday, November 15th, Leitner-POMA, operators of the R.I. Tram, will begin maintenance work on both cabins to continue ensuring the safe operations of the Tram.”

“During this work, which is scheduled to last through the end of December 2021 (weather dependent), only one Tram cabin will be in operation at a time. The Tram will operate on an as needed “load and go” departure throughout its regular hours of operation.”

Guess what “as needed ‘load and go’ departure” means because they never explain it. And because this runs through a series of major holidays drawing tons of tourists, how will those loads be handled? Any special allowance for residents counting on the Tram for daily needs?

Feel free assuming that none of this was ever discussed with residents. Few, if any, RIOC decision-makers ride the Tram, and instead demand free parking all along Main Street and in set aside parking lots.

But other questions loom as large.

RIOC Plans Some Help

The shutdown advisory outlines some helpful Red Bus shuttle services, as follows:

Roosevelt Island to Manhattan Shuttle 

  • Departs hourly from the R.I. Tram Station (300 Main St.), making all northbound local stops to Capobianco Field (opposite P.S./I.S. 217), before heading into Manhattan.
  • First trip will depart from the R.I. Tram Station at 3 PM
  • Last trip will depart from the R.I. Tram Station at 8 PM

Manhattan to Roosevelt Island Shuttle

  • Departs on the half hour from the southwest side of 2nd Avenue, between 58th & 59th Streets, and will make all southbound local bus stops (starting with 591 Main St.) to the R.I. Tram Station
  • Last trip will depart Manhattan at 8:30 PM 

Regular Island Red Bus runs are unchanged, but here’s the problem: “(T)he RIOC Red Bus will be providing free shuttle service, to and from Manhattan, Mondays – Fridays, from 3 PM – 8:30 PM.”

What about mornings when people must get to appointments, work and school? It appears that RIOC built the schedules to fit their needs, not those of residents.

Other Resources in the Shutdown Advisory

Among exculpatory claims Haynes mumbled at the board meeting were his saying that his team was working with the subway and NYC Ferry to coordinate. No, they weren’t.

Probably the most casual and careless element in the shutdown advisory was this:

Alternative Transportation Options:

For real time service alerts and updates on MTA service, visit: or call 511

For alerts and updates on NYC Ferry service, visit:

Although this falls far short of anything coordinated, as Haynes claimed, it’s even worse because both links are either bad or not helpful. The alleged MTA link leads to a completely different domain where you’re asked to login to a suite of apps. The NYC Ferry link goes to their homepage, something anyone can find with a simple search.

But here’s what you need:

  • The schedule for NYC Ferry’s Astoria Line, serving Roosevelt Island is here. (Suggestion: download the NYC Ferry app for your smartphone. Up to the minute arrivals and departures, and you can even buy your tickets.)
  • For the latest on subway conditions, go here. (We also suggest using the MTA’s downloadable app. It’s accurate across all lines and includes buses.)

We will, of course, keep our Roosevelt Island Transportation page updated.

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