Fuming at RIOC Neglect: Unprepared and Stuck


RIOC neglect spurs resident frustration as tourists pack Tram cabins, preventing access and creating confusion for many. The internet buzzes with it as talks about protests rise. The state agency and elected officials appear unmoved.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

With the big 63rd Street Track Fixation Project ready to go full blast on Friday night, RIOC neglect spreads like a stink bomb of disconnection. Executives seem only dimly aware of the problems coming for Roosevelt Islanders let alone their responsibilities in a potential crisis.

Midday Tuesday, passengers await the next cabin for 2nd Avenue.

RIOC Neglect Billows with Ignorance

It’s almost as if the state agency either pre-planned its ignorance or is simply unprepared and stuck.

On Tuesday afternoon, three days out from a full weekend without any subway service, the cabins are already packed. But RIOC’s “executive teams,” according to board member Ben Fhala, have zero plans for the high-impact event.

Without subway service in either direction, demands on the Tram increase exponentially, but only residents appear to see it.

They’ll sort of stand by, see what happens and, then, make adjustments, but of course, by then, it’ll be too late.

Nobody is guiding this ship, RIOC’s executive team, its board and our elected officials are just watching the waves, wondering what troubles those clouds will bring.

Signs of “Blinders On” Mentality

Into the mix with Fhala’s lost waif observations comes President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes’s claim, “…we have also reiterated to Tram operator POMA the need to ensure seating priority for the disabled, elderly, and pregnant women is adhered to.”

Even that’s a joke because it never happens. Does anyone take RIOC seriously anymore?

This is normal. Kids, often urged by parents, rush into the cabins, quickly taking over the reserved seating. POMA operators never say a word, no matter how many seniors are left standing on the wobbly ride.

Numerous Roosevelt Island older and physically challenged adults stopped taking the Tram because the crowding and shoving goes over the top. Rarely does a wheelchair roll aboard anymore. The Tram residents pay for no longer belongs to them.

“RIOC carries tourists just as if they were cattle,” one resident notes.

They do make way for something strange, though.

E-bikes, powered vehicles capable of crossing the river on their own, are now welcome in Tram cabins. No extra charge, taking up multiple spaces and further crowding out residents.

And speaking of broken promises, on a Tuesday trip to and from Second Avenue, not a single Public Safety officer was present. You fend for yourself with the tourists pushing and shoving as they take over the cabins.

Resident Needs Ignored

The worst of RIOC neglect arises from ignorance.

In RIOC News, Haynes says, “But I do want to reiterate a few key points that I keep hearing and dispel some misinformation that’s floating around. First, this project does not mean that there will be absolutely no subway travel to Manhattan and Queens.”

Sorry, Shelton, but it does mean that, starting Friday evening when all subway service ends until Monday morning. Over the next six months, subway service will be completely out for at least five hours every day. And the MTA says there may be additional full shutdowns they are unable to predict.

This lack of awareness inside the Blackwell House bunker helps explain why RIOC offers so little assistance during the transportation crisis. And don’t expect any changes.

You can’t change what you don’t see or, sadly, care about.

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