Shelton Haynes

Now Frustration Spikes As RIOC Leaves Roosevelt Islanders Hanging Again


Frustration spikes across Roosevelt Island as residents react to RIOC’s failures piling up before the major F Train shutdown begins. It’s the negligence that burns most.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Sometimes, it’s as if RIOC acts in a bubble impenetrable by anything except its own selfish needs. A bloated, top-heavy staff bumbles along behind a leader paying himself more than any governor in the U.S., including New York’s Hochul.

But it reached a new low a week ago when its board members turned Shills for Shelton, including the new members brought in by Senator Liz Krueger. Hope for change melted in the Saturday morning sun at the Farmers Market.

Ostensibly there to help Islanders understand the Track Fixation Project that detours all F Trains away from Roosevelt Island for at least six months, the board members cheerfully exposed one of RIOC’s biggest ever fails – and there’s plenty of competition.

With the project details fairly well-known already, the Shills for Shelton only emphasized that RIOC made no plans for the shutdown, its impact on older adults, moms with strollers, wheelchairs and kids returning to school.

Nothing whatsoever.

RIOC wasn’t changing anything either, they bragged, but was “assessing” situations as they occur. After knowing all about the shutdown for months. That pathetic point of view was echoed by President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes at a news conference on Thursday.

Then Frustrations Spiked as RIOC Fumbled an Immediate Challenge

cute ethnic girl smiling brightly in stroller
Where do the strollers go when the elevator is out? Photo by Kamaji Ogino on

The problem with “assessing” is that it’s reactive. It only goes to work after something happens, but here, proactive is what we need.

RIOC’s failures at proactively planning for potential problems shined bright when the Manhattan-bound elevator in the subway went down hard, this week. It will be out until at least the end of October.

But the Track Fixation work is already underway, leaving the community without any option except escalators – which are frequently broken or nonexistent. The under-construction elevator is six months past due with no completion date in sight.

With only one side of the subway open at a time and shuttles operating, where are strollers, wheelchairs and physically challenged folks supposed to go?

“Take the Q102,” a thickheaded MTA official said. But strollers are only sometime allowed on MTA buses, and the aisles are not wide enough.

Rather than speak up for the community, Shelton “Mumbles” Haynes stood by in silence.

Only the Beginning

Whatever the consequences of the elevator breakdown, it’s only the first and certainly not the last with a minimum of six months ahead for the project.

And the MTA and especially RIOC have no plans for dealing with inevitable disruptions.

The MTA posts and RIOC parrots schedules that nobody in his or her right mind believes will happen. Except the Shills for Shelton, of course.

We already know that elevators will go down, but so will escalators. Subway doors will jam, and people will get sick. Unknown people will wander on the tracks.

These things happen all the time and will throughout the project.

Frustration spikes with leaderless RIOC because it created no plans of any kind ready. Instead, its brain trust will assess whatever, but that’s not much consolation for anyone in a wheelchair stuck on a platform several hundred feet underground.

And Then, RIOC Failed Again With OMNY

At a Thursday news conference, MTA Executive Director Janno Lieber rode the Tram over to announce that OMNY readers were now in place.

Local media was never notified, but tipped off, the Roosevelt Islander showed up anyway.

RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. “Mumbles” Haynes joined officials who never mentioned residents once and walked away when the Roosevelt Islander tried asking about local concerns.

Although many Roosevelt Islanders have waited eagerly for OMNY, its arrival is bittersweet because both state agencies blew it for those who live here.

The onslaught of tourists that’s forced plenty of residents off the Tram because of egregious overcrowding will now be enhanced. The first OMNY tap ended the unofficial local privilege of skirting through and around long lines of tourists buying MetroCards.

Roosevelt Islanders will now go to the end of the line for the Tram cabins, which operate at a deficit they must pay for in the RIOC Tax.

When the Roosevelt Islander asked about any preference for residents, Mumbles did his thing. “We’re assessing….” he said, now years after the issue first arose.

The popular local blogger gamely tried asking about how the broken subway elevator would be handled. An MTA executive “explained” that you must suffer some pain to get the gain, as if the subject was an athlete getting ready for the new season.

He then turned and walked away with Haynes at his side, leaving the blogger hanging in mid-question.

In Case You’re Wondering Why the Frustrations Will Continue

Assessing the situation as promised, RIOC’s brain trust concluded that we now need even more crowding. They reposted this on X:

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