Update: The Tram Elevator Went Out, And RIOC Went Missing


The new Tram elevator went out, leaving disabled, elderly, stroller moms and more stranded. RIOC, it seems, also went out. They offered no public notice when it went down nor later in the day when it returned to service. Dysfunction and mismanagement at the shrouded state agency is now worse than when Governor Kathy Hochul took office. She promised improvements.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

The New Tram Elevator Is Out – Where Is RIOC?

The new Tram elevator (left) is out, and its twin, supposed to guarantee uninterrupted service, has never opened. No word from RIOC on either.

The above photo was taken around noon on Monday, hours after the sign went up and the first people were stranded. But not a word from RIOC.

The first notes of concern came in early:

“FYI – just found Manhattan Tram elevator out of service again. Man with stroller at the top and woman in wheelchair waiting to go up. This is just a horrible lack of accountability for the Tram operation.”

Since there had been no advisory from RIOC, the bunkered state agency that never makes a mistake, we checked their Facebook page. Nothing. Their website? Twitter? Nothing there either.

It’s been fumbling and tumbling downhill for a while, but RIOC finally plunked down at rock bottom. Nobody appears to be in charge, and Hochul, despite big talk and larger promises, has let a toxic agency under her direct control become intermittently hapless.

RIOC Under the Microscope… Still Can’t Be Found

There’s an old phrase about running around like a chicken with its head cut off. As one of the few still around who witnesses such an event live, I get it. When I was a boy, harvesting chickens was a community event. We kids got to pluck the feathers after the birds died, setting them up for family dinners.

The shocking thing, for kids as young as me, was seeing the chickens run around, trying to escape after their heads were left behind. They still ran, flapped their wings, etc., until finally collapsing. RIOC reminds me of this.

It’s more refined in this case. There are still good managers collecting paychecks at RIOC, teamed up with notorious flops. Cy Opperman keeps the buses running, and the drivers are always reliable. The trash gets collected from the bright red bins. But otherwise, there is little sign of leadership or much else.

Over several months, as exposures here and from inside whistleblowers mounted, RIOC leadership retreated. Board meetings were canceled and longtime employees fired. But the only word leaking out was secondhand.

President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes hasn’t appeared in public since The Girl Puzzle opening in December. Leadership was never his long suit nor did any concern for the community alter his grin.

So, what’s going on? Is this the best we can expect from Governor Hochul’s crew? Broken elevators, silence and secrecy? At an annual tab of $32 million?

How does this end?

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