Now, A Week Later, RIOC Notes the OMNY Launch, But Not Locally


A week after the OMNY launch and a day after being chided for negligence, RIOC finally chugged out a press release as much about President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes as the event. It trotted out the news internationally but not in any local advisory. Residents, as usual, got short shrift, never mentioned specifically. It’s the RIOC way.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

The now traditional screaming headline was, as usual, geared mainly at saluting Haynes. Everything else was collateral.


And, of course, the opening sentence contained the expected grammatical error: “President & CEO Shelton J. Haynes joined the MTA for the official launch of OMNY at Roosevelt Island Tramway.”

It was a perfect intro to the gibberish that followed. The press release, written by President/Assistant Vice President Akeem Jamal, also emphasized its purpose with a deer-caught-in-the-headlights photo of Haynes.

The best they could muster, a rain-splattered Haynes observed by MTA officials. No video of his brief mumbling statement was offered.

As of this writing, RIOC has still not released a local advisory about the OMNY launch.

But that matches Haynes’s negligence in never mentioning Roosevelt Islanders during the brief ceremony. The MTA brain trust did not either.

As a humanitarian gesture, we’ll spare our readers Jamal’s brain-numbing paragraph about OMNY works, but here’s Haynes’s statement for the release:

“More and more island travelers are turning to OMNY for their everyday transit use, and as the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s important for our infrastructure to keep pace with those changing trends.”


Haynes then goes on to thank MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and, get this, “…the RIOC Legal Team, led by Gretchen Robinson, for their tireless work in bringing this initiative to fruition.”

After just four years.

Mysteriously, there was no mention of the flawed revenue-sharing agreement that’s allowed the MTA to steal roughly a hundred thousand dollars every month from Roosevelt Island.

Without mentioning a single one, Haynes also nodded at “…and our elected officials who advocated so passionately for bringing OMNY here to Roosevelt Island.”

But still, nothing about the Roosevelt Islanders who not only pay for the Tram’s mounting losses but who also fired up those elected officials.

Official Jackass Award…

…goes to New York City Transit President Richard Davey.

“Tram customers can now trust they will never miss their tram because, like subway and bus customers, they can simply tap to ride.”

Note to Jackass Award Winner: Nobody ever missed “their tram” because they couldn’t tap to ride. Maybe you need a new fact-checker.

Roosevelt Island customers “miss their tram” because it’s overrun by tourists encouraged by RIOC and the MTA. Older adults and physically restricted residents often don’t even try.

Admittedly, he was even more of a jackass at the official ceremony where he walked away with his nose in the air when he didn’t like a question about the F Train shutdown – of which this brilliant man is also in charge.

In Reality, Where the Rest of Us Live

The primary result of the OMNY launch was faster access for tourists and more crowding for the disregarded people living and working here.

As we’ve pointed out before, POMA Tram operators refuse to follow orders from Haynes to make sure reserved seating for seniors and disabled passengers is observed. They remain silent.

Yesterday at 2:45 p.m. before rush. No announcement about priority seating, crammed with tourists who whip out their phones for videos already recorded by thousands and shared on Instagram and TikTok.

Rush hour, when Roosevelt Islanders really need to get on, was worse.

Screengrab from Facebook, posted by Joan Ogden.


In the real world of people getting to and from work, school, errands and shopping, Roosevelt Islanders are shunted aside by unqualified, uncaring and overpaid bureaucrats.

Residents have no voice and, overruled by Team Hochul in Albany, elected officials powerless to make changes.


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