Roosevelt Island Tram at work

RIOC’s new MTA/OMNY deal is so bad, it isn’t even wrong.


In advance of today’s board meeting, RIOC yesterday released details of its MTA/OMNY deal. It’s full of Roosevelt Island giveaways, agreed to under specious reasoning, simply another major fail under CEO Shelton J. Haynes.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

“The MTA ran over Shelton and basically said, “Duck you, this is what we are doing,” our analyst said after reviewing the deal. “Shut up and smile.”

At first glance, there is no denying that the MTA simply dictated the terms while Team RIOC sat back nodding.


Either mindbogglingly unaware of the reality for Roosevelt Islanders or desperate for a reasonable-sounding explanation, Chief Counsel Gretchen Robinson, in a memo to Haynes and shared with the board, prepared this tumbling word salad:

Amidst these ongoing negotiations, we learned that the MTA planned significant track work on the F line tunnel which services Roosevelt Island, and that said work was slated to begin on August 28th. Given the significant disruption to island residents that the F train work was obviously going to create and considering the numerous calls from the community to get OMNY operational at the Tram; and considering the MTA’s desire to onboard OMNY ahead of said F line work, both RIOC and the MTA expedited negotiations and are very close to reaching a more permanent agreement.

Gretchen Robinson

Interested observers instantly spot the misrepresentation because all this does is bring more riders to the Tram, which is already overcrowded and losing money on every swipe. At the same time, it swept away the single advantage Roosevelt Islanders, who heavily subsidize RIOC and the Tram, had.

That is, they can no longer jump the MetroCard line of tourists and board first, but Robinson cluelessly asserts that it will “…improve the overall ridership experience.”

She doesn’t say how.

And RIOC Agreed to Pay Through the Nose

Setting the nonsense rationale offered by Robinson and holding your laughter back over the spurious claim that, after a four-year stall, anything could be considered expedited, here’s what RIOC signed off on:

  • The MTA gets a full pass after “…stealing $1.0 million a year forever” while the Tram operated at a loss. It will be allowed to keep its unethical haul.
  • While the MTA/OMNY deal lets RIOC finally collect the full $2.90 fare, it also lets the MTA clip 10% off the top, an estimated $600,000 annual gift from Roosevelt Island.
  • RIOC also pays an unexplained $3,800 monthly fee. That’s 190 rides going straight into MTA pockets before RIOC collects anything.
  • Hilarious if not so dreadful, RIOC also coughs up an “…onboarding fee of $285,000,” whatever the hell that covers.
  • But that’s not all. There are also unidentified “…costs associated with the new OMNY hardware,” along with everything else.


The MTA/OMNY deal is terrible and would result in dismissal if tumbled into any environment outside politics where patronage and privilege prevail. And, it’s not over because this is only a one-year agreement.

Our consultant summed it up.

 It’s a give-and-take, and the MTA went in making sure they took a piece out of RIOC for the 90 cents they were stealing.  Sounds like Haynes wanted OMNY badly, so he could defuse the track work frustrations. Basically, it paints over bad news with swirls of false color… because the MTA is coming back for more for sure and RIOC is already in on the giving side.  

Put your seat belt on!

Roosevelt Island Daily Consultant.

The MTA, which has been stealing from Roosevelt Island for more than a decade, got another gift here after multiple gaffes and quivering weakness from Team RIOC.

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  1. I’m starting to believe that maybe we deserve what is happening to us via the Seldom Seen Administration. We need to start a petition, hold rallies and let our people in Albany know that we are sick and tired of what is going on here.

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