As we reported, last year, the Roosevelt Island Tram is the single point within the MTA system that is not equipped with OMNY readers. This means subway and bus riders cannot get free transfers and that RIOC misses out on substantial revenue. RIOC is fully aware, and President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes admits no contact with the MTA for over a year while the rest of the system converted.
City Council Member Julie Menin gets it and, in letter to Haynes, insists on action. Following is the full context of her press release on the situation.
by David Stone
Commuters can not access OMNY free transfers or utilize fare-capping pilot program
RIOC Missing Out on Critical Funds By Not Using OMNY
February 10, 2022
The Offices of New York City Council Member Julie Menin, New York State Senator Jose M. Serrano and New York State Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright have requested the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) advance the timeline for the installation of the One Metro New York (OMNY) system on the Roosevelt Island Tram. The letter sent by the Office of Council Member Julie Menin addresses RIOC President and CEO Shelton J. Haynes as the Roosevelt Island Tram remains the last MetroCard only station within the MTA system.
RIOC is a New York State run public-benefit corporation that maintains and develops Roosevelt Island, operates a Public Safety Department, and also provides services such as the Roosevelt Island Tramway that enhances the residential island community. It is one of the few forms of mass transit in New York City not run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but uses that system’s MetroCard.
With an annual ridership of over two million people and daily use in the thousands, the Tram currently is one of the most reliable services for traveling into Midtown Manhattan and a way to avoid crowded subways cars on the F train that travels to Manhattan and Queens. Those who forget or are not in possession of a Metrocard, cannot use their smart technology such as smartphones and watches, which could also have their payment readily available. If passengers used OMNY earlier on their trip, a free transfer is not available and passengers cannot take advantage of the weekly fare cap. Starting at the end of the month, New York City transit riders who utilize OMNY will pay no more than $33 per week for unlimited rides on the MTA’s local buses and subways.
In addition to not having OMNY integrated with the tram, RIOC is also currently missing out on collecting full revenues from Metrocard rides due to an outdated agreement with the MTA that did not account for fare hikes, as RIOC only receives $2.00 for a Metrocard swipe. Adopting OMNY technology provides an opportunity to collect full fares and create a fairer agreement.
“Roosevelt Island residents shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by a fixable transportation issue. The Tram is vital to our residents, and making it affordable and modernizing the technology will be a benefit for tram riders and RIOC alike as they’ll finally get the funds they deserve,” said Council Member Julie Menin.
“New Yorkers across the city currently have the option of paying their fare by tapping their contactless smartphones, cards, and other devices using OMNY, and Roosevelt Island Tram riders should be no exception. With the substantial growth of the island in the last few years, ease of access to transportation options has become more important than ever, and I look forward to seeing RIOC advance their timeline for modernizing the current payment system,” said State Senator José M. Serrano.
“The clock is ticking. The MTA is moving forward with its plan to fully implement OMNY. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation is late to the game. RIOC must come forward with a timetable to deploy the OMNY system while also ensuring that Tram riders continue to benefit from seamless payment and transfers,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.
“Very few Roosevelt Islanders remember when Matt Katz spent years advocating for our Tram to accept Metro Cards (it didn’t just happen). For a ridiculously long time we had to use outdated tokens that were no longer used anywhere else at the time. I remember listening to my neighbors, particularly those with families who were financially burdened by the extra expense…here we go again. Why can’t RIOC be proactive and reactive in support of our financially burdened neighbors and prioritize this change making it happen NOW and truly support the people who need it the most,” said Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, Chair of the Community Board 8 Roosevelt Island Committee.
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