What you need to know about the partial Tram shutdown and alternatives…

What you need to know about the partial Tram shutdown and alternatives…

A partial Tram shutdown begins Monday, November 15th. Crews will engage in replacing track ropes with an estimated timeframe of six weeks. Adverse weather conditions may extend that.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Partial Tram Shutdown: The Basics

Crowding will increase as capacity is cut by 50%. Little is being down in providing alternatives.

In recent weeks, Leitner-Poma has set the stage for getting started quickly, and the weather looks good for the start. But poor communications* from RIOC have left Tram users less prepared. We’ll help with that.

*The state agency has not updated its own website with the changes, and it’s local email advisory blast, among other miscues, contained bad web links.

Hours of Operation

  • Sunday through Thursday: 6:00 a.m thru 2:00 a.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 6:00 a.m. thru 3:30 a.m.

The only change during the work period is simple. Only a single cabin will run while the other is down for service. It’s simple but impactful because the Tram already gets heavy use at times. A number of people rely on the Tram for regular commutes; others call it critical. This makes the lack of good alternatives significant.

During the partial Tram shutdown period, RIOC says an “as needed ‘load and go’ departure” will be used, but they never explain what that means. Take your best guess.

While recognizing the likelihood of crowding during daily rush hours, RIOC ignores other challenges, but the lack of sensible alternatives is a more serious flaw.

Other critical periods without options…

While even RIOC knows there are two daily rush hours, only the flawless state agency knows why they’re providing help for only one of them. Between 3:00 and 8:30 p.m., weekdays only, they offer Red Bus shuttles between the Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza and 2nd Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets. They run only once per hour, from Roosevelt Island at the top and 2nd Avenue on the half. Riders can board along all the Main Street stops from the bridge to the Tram.

But what about morning rush, a more critical need for many going to work or school? RIOC’s doing nothing to meet demand here. They never explain why, but you can be sure the reason has nothing to do with consideration for residents and others needing help.

Long lines at times are inevitable during the partial Tram shutdown.

Weekends are another issue, and it will be aggravated as the repair period runs through the holidays. Since RIOC knew about this work for nearly a year because expenses were included in the budget process, it’s baffling that they chose one of the worst times for it.

Tourist season accelerates with Thanksgiving weekend an stays strong until New Year’s Day. Visitors often have a Tram ride on their checklist, but RIOC’s vaunted Communications Team has made no outreach efforts. That’s not surprising as the state agency that never gets it wrong barely reached out to residents paying the bills here.

So, for locals as well as visitors, plenty of chances for getting bummed out during the holidays abound.

Alternatives During the Partial Tram Shutdown

Take for granted that RIOC’s deep thinkers will do nothing more than already announced for the partial Tram shutdown period, but here are your options.

  • New York City Subway – It’s obvious, but since RIOC’s advisory still has a bad link for service information, we’re providing the right one here. For the record, we’ve checked and found no scheduled service changes so far. (If you have a smartphone, the MTA app can be very helpful. We use it all the time.)
  • NYC Ferry – Catch a ride for the same cost as the Tram on the Astoria Line. Get a quick trip and even a drink or a snack between East 90th Street or Wall Street with good stops in-between. Getting off at 34th Street opens up public transportation into midtown, including NYC Ferry’s free midtown shuttle. (Again, smartphone users get a better experience with the NYC Ferry app. You can even buy tickets.)
  • MTA Q102 Bus – Once off the Island, connections are available for transportation throughout the city. It’s only about five minutes to Queensboro Plaza and free transfers to 7, N and W trains. In addition, we’re reminded by a reader that a short walk also gets you to the E, M, R Trains – with elevator access. Also, if you cross over to the westbound Queens Plaza, you can transfer to Q32, Q60 and Q101 buses into Manhattan. (Thanks, NL.)
  • Driving – Aside from Uber and Lyft, traveling by car is the worst option. Even if traffic’s light, parking’s in short supply, and the one thing PSD has proved good at is writing parking tickets.

The partial Tram shutdown will be with us until at least December 31st. We will update with any changes. In the meantime, stay patient and be a good neighbor.

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