Ridiculous RIOC Review, Leaderless and Fumbling at the End of August


To Ridiculous RIOC, we can safely add deceitful and disconnected. All we need to do is total up mistakes with the Tram, the Graduate Hotel Bus and the Nellie Bly coverup. There’s more, but that’s enough for one Monday.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

The Roosevelt Island Tram, Where Transparency and Accountability Cut and Run

In a Friday advisory – posted after hours, of course, and without crediting anyone – it said, “The MTA’s track replacement project has resulted in higher-than-normal Tram ridership.”

This is classic RIOC stuff. Some other operation is always at fault while the state agency that always gets it right never takes responsibility.

“We’ve put together a helpful FAQ on Tram service related to the MTA 63rd Street Track Project that touches on a lot of the questions we’ve received from the community,” anonymous said.

Then, it added…

“The Tram has priority seating for customers with disabilities and seniors. New signage has been added to both Tram cars reiterating that policy, and Tram operators will also make announcements during boarding to remind travelers to move from their seats when asked.”

That’s neither a FAQ nor a fact. It’s an outright lie.

Really, Why Is the Tram Overcrowded?

Overcrowding on Tram cabins preceded the MTA 63rd Street Track Project by many months, as everyone – even RIOC – knows.

It’s the result of a Ridiculous RIOC decision early in the administration of President/CYA Shelton J. Haynes. Using a restructured and underpowered Communications Department, all communications reoriented around “branding and marketing” Roosevelt Island.

It was a decision only RIOC and tourists could love. It focused squarely on the Tram, which tourists love because it’s a cheap thrill. As that traffic built, large swaths of Roosevelt Islanders were crowded out as the pushing, shoving and mad rush for window spaces burst on the scene.

RIOC’s single concession is increasing the volume of cabins crossing the East River… but only on weekends when it helps tourists. Weekdays when locals rely on the Tram for work, school and shopping are unchanged.

About Priority Seating

This is ugly.

For its entire existence, the Tram has been transportation of choice for Roosevelt Island’s older adults and physically restricted travelers. The Q102 bus is another good option, but it runs less frequently.

The subway system is, of course, daunting for wheelchair dependent and other physically challenged people with its illegal lack of accessibility. And even in stations that are accessible, like Roosevelt Island, the fixtures frequently breakdown, leaving people stranded on platforms.

And during some hours, the platforms are also scary for a reason. Neither RIOC nor the MTA report thefts, drugs and homelessness in the station, masking hazards.

But physically challenged folks are no longer welcome on the Tram, despite ridiculous RIOC gobbledygook.

The non-factual FAQ says, “Tram operators will also make announcements during boarding to remind travelers to move from their seats when asked.”

The first part is a lie. Tram operators never do that. But the second part is simply atrocious.

Visualize this: An 80-year-old woman using a cane manages to board a cabin in the scrum of tourists. RIOC thinks she will elbow her way through – Try that! – and when she finally gets to the reserved bench, she must ask a stranger, often one that does not speak English, to move.

Really, RIOC? Really?

Ridiculous RIOC and the Graduate Hotel Shuttle

Although the state agency that always gets it right refuses to help residents on weekends, it – out of the blue – coughed up an innovation nobody asked for. Check that. Nobody who lives on Roosevelt Island asked for it.

Without a hint of shame, RIOC suddenly came out with this on Friday afternoon:

To help Roosevelt Island commuters during the difficult MTA Track Replacement ProjectRIOC will begin providing a free Red Bus Shuttle to Queens Plaza during weekday morning rush hours starting Tuesday, September 5thThe shuttle will run between scheduled Q102 busesgiving island residents an added travel option to a close, ADA accessible transportation hub, free of charge.

RIOC Advisory

Key words: “Roosevelt Island commuters” leapfrogs over simply Roosevelt Islanders. And “free of charge” is the work of an outsider because everyone else knows that Red Buses are always free.

And curiously, why “Departs hourly from the Graduate Hotel…?” Who is this free bus targeted for?

If it’s really “to help Roosevelt Island commuters,” why is the largest neglected block not in the picture. Octagon residents as well as workers and visitors at the Coler Rehabilitation Center are again kicked to the gutter, this time by the Graduate Hotel Shuttle.

And also, why morning rush only?

Some FAQs speak for themselves, and even with fact-challenged RIOC, the real intention is an easy to figure out puzzle.

The Girl Puzzle, spring 2023. RIOC knew the concrete work was poorly done at the time of its December 2021 ribbon-cutting, but sat on it. Just a year and a half later, it needs a costly fix.

Botched Nellie Bly Monument

This one’s not transportation related but another costly blunder complimented with a cheap coverup.

Please be advised that the Nellie Bly monument at Lighthouse Park will be inaccessible to the public beginning 9/5/23 through 9/29/23 due to warranty related maintenance and repairs.

RIOC Advisory

Let’s start with getting the name right. It’s Amanda Matthews’s The Girl Puzzle, and it was inspired by Nellie Bly. But the actual artwork is expansive.

After an opening ceremony during which CEO Haynes claimed credit for work in which he barely participated, RIOC abandoned The Girl Puzzle. It’s committed next to nothing in promotions, and now, someone must pay because the actual workmanship supporting the artwork was flawed from the beginning.

“Amanda (Matthews) told RIOC the wall work was bad when it was done,” according to an informed observer. “It is the walls around the art. Nothing to do with the art. They are ‘parched’ and cracked.”

According to The Girl Puzzle website, the work was overseen by RIOC Senior Project Manager Prince R. Shah. Other Shah projects include the proposed and widely hated Palace of Versailles Bike Ramp and the wildly over budget Blackwell House renovation.

Whether the upcoming are really “warranty related maintenance and repairs,” is unknown because RIOC is typically withholding details.

And it’s unlikely Ridiculous RIOC will ever come clean, again raising the question, Why are they hiding so much?”

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