Right on Track: The F Train Shutdown for Roosevelt Island Made Simple


Let’s try something here. Let’s make the F Train Shutdown story as simple as it can be because, under the hood, it isn’t complicated. But confusion abounds like muddy water in a rain storm.

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Let’s flush that muddy water down the drainpipe, replacing it with a nice, clear and fresh story of how the F Train Shutdown will work. It starts on August 28th and continues for at least six months. Fixing and replacing a few miles of 40-year-old track is necessary.

So, it will happen, like it or not, because not doing it really would welcome disaster.

The Roosevelt Islander, the MTA, Community Board 8, even RIOC tried explaining it, but in the last few days, we saw a flurry of confusion mixed with misinformation on the internet. Maybe, we can make it simpler.

The F Train Shutdown: Three Easy Pieces

#1 – A Shuttle Picks Up the Load in Both Directions

With their track fixation work underway, the MTA offers an “F Train Shuttle” that picks up passengers in both directions on Roosevelt Island. It does so at 20 minute intervals, each way, from 5:00 a.m. to Midnight.

The advantage is dedicated service every day. But there are disadvantages:

  • The biggest issue arises from the 20-minute schedule. That may not be enough, especially during rush hours, leaving riders the choice of waiting for the next train or seeking alternatives.
  • A close second is the closing of that shuttle service at midnight, leaving a 5 hour gap before resuming at 5:00 a.m. Q94 buses – for free – will run from Roosevelt Island to Queens Plaza during that time. But no schedule or route has been posted. This may leave some residents, especially those living north of the Roosevelt Island Bridge, without any pick up point at all.
  • What happens if the escalators or elevators breakdown on the active side? What do wheelchair users and moms with strollers do now? The situation is worse on Roosevelt Island because breakdowns are so frequent.
  • Finally, the terminal points for the F Train Shuttle are problematic, especially in Queens. Alternatives are limited in Queensbridge, but the MTA says it will run a free Q95 shuttle bus to and from Queens Plaza, where you can catch multiple subway lines – including the F, and 21st Street. Here again, there is no timetable.
Jasper AI

Roosevelt Islanders biggest obstacle on a routine basis will be the extra time needed to get anywhere by subway. This will cramp work and school schedules and add extra load to the already often packed and delayed Tram.

And the late night shuttle buses to and from Queens Plaza are no trips to the beach. But hanging out at 3:00 a.m. on a winter morning, waiting for a bus that may not arrive soon, has more risks than most of us would welcome.

The Daily strongly advises downloading the MTA app. It gives you clean and clear arrival times for MTA trains and buses, adding an extra layer of security.

The Unspoken Risk

It’s simple, if the MTA wants it simple.

As only a single set of tracks is available at any time, that leaves an engineers worst nightmare, a gaff known as a single point of failure. If anything goes wrong – and in all likelihood, something will – there is no Plan B

What if a train breaks down, maybe a jammed door, an emergency break pulled? A sick passenger? A crime?

Any of these things can bring all solutions for the F Train Shutdown to a full halt, maybe with people stuck in tunnels – until whatever it is gets fixed. The MTA doesn’t appear to have any alternatives or options. That’s a glaring mistake that no one in the systems publicly considered..


Although there are several, none are strong.

  • Q102 bus. Ever reliable, the Q120 sweeps Roosevelt Island and follows a route into Queens. It stops at Queens Plaza for other connections by subway or bus. But it’s not frequent, and especially north of the bridge, requires touring the entire Island before turning into Queens.
  • NYC Ferry does not run frequently and its stops are limited, but it can get you to places pleasantly and efficiently if your destination is compatible with its route.
  • The Tram – Old Faithful gets you to and from 2nd Avenue with other buses and subway lines. But it’s jammed with tourists much of the time and will be worse during the holidays. Also, RIOC has finally gotten OMNY readers installed. The long MetroCard lines are gone, but the crowding continues with even rush hour service leaving dozens behind on platforms because the cabins are full. The state agency has not provided Public Safety Officers who can help onsite as promised.
  • RIOC – RIOC could do much. But having the imagination of dried flowers in an abandoned house and the community commitment of a precious soul with no taste for the scrum of daily life, they can’t be counted on for any help.


There it is, plain and simple. Drop a comment below, if you have any questions.

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  1. Have you read the suggestions on the RI Facebook page? There are a few good ones as well as calls to get the news and our representatives involv d. Maybe you can write about that??

    • I saw them. I’m not impressed. What is news coverage going to do? The work is essential for the system. MTA’s original plan was badly thought out, but when we got the electeds involved, the MTA revised it, making it much better. They made multiple public presentations, including with CB8 and at RIOC’s June board meeting. I’ve yet to see a viable, sensible alternative. Just mostly complaining, although the new plan is reasonable with only minor inconveniences.

      I hate that the Tram cabins are so crowded that a lot of residents, especially seniors, will not use the Tram anymore, but that’s not reversible. If there is a viable solution, push it on RIOC. They created the problem by doing the “branding and marketing” pitch Shelton Haynes brought in to please real estate developers and the Graduate Hotel when he took over. They broke it, make them fix it.

      Getting OMNY installed will help because it will eliminate the long Metrocard lines, but the tourists will keep coming. Someone suggested special access for Roosevelt Islanders. Great idea, and it can be done. Here’s the hitch – someone has to enforce it, and PSD can’t even handle eBikes o on Main Street, running through every stop sign and crosswalk. That’s kept a lot of seniors and physically challenged off the streets too. These guys couldn’t handle Tram access segregation. Not with the ultra-passive management we have now.

      As for the Roosevelt Islander Facebook Page, I don’t read that because all the blogger ever does is copy and paste other people’s work. We need new ideas, not rehashed oldies that were never viable.

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