For a week now, RIOC has gone silent about the 6-hour Tram breakdown that occurred last week. We now know that the cabins are not as safe as they should be nor were they before. But it also appears that no one in authority will do anything about it. Elected officials as well as state and city authorities have remained silent. Roosevelt Islanders are left out on a limb again.
by David Stone
How We Got Here: A Look Back
“On April 18, 2006, at about 5:22 p.m. EDT, the two trams were stuck over the East River for over eleven hours because of mechanical problems, trapping 69 people.” – Wikipedia
One evening after work, after leaving the subway, I walked up the West Promenade, unwinding along the water, enjoying the skyline on a perfect evening. But soon, I noticed that the other Roosevelt Islanders I passed were not walking.
They stood still, staring back toward the Queensboro Bridge. Turning around, I saw a Tram cabin dangling over the East River. The other was suspended over 1st Avenue. The passengers were not fully evacuated until early the next morning.
Calls rang out loud and clear for a rebuilt and safer Tramway system. In November 2010, we got that. Or did we?
“Among the improvements, the new tram cables and cars are now allowed to operate independently of each other in a “dual-haul” system,” Wikipedia adds. “Prior to this, the cars had to travel at the same time, which presented maintenance and emergency response issues.”
But as we learned last week, that’s not entirely true.
Why the Roosevelt Island Tramway Is Not as Safe as It Should Be
RIOC and POMA, contract operators of the Tram, cut off all communications after announcing that the cabins were back in service after a “technical” issue, last week. And, of profound concern, not a single official, elected or otherwise, spoke up.
As a result of due diligence by new RIOC board members, we learned that the “technical” issue was a breakdown in a WiFi connection atop one of the towers. Alarmingly, a single point of failure – that is, engineering malpractice – left both cabins dangling in the air.
And although they got the cabins moving again, that hazard is unchanged. It’s still there.
It was just dumb luck that the failure happened during off-hours. It could as easily have been 3:00 in the afternoon with cabins filled with tourists and school kids immobile for six hours or more.
A crane had to be brought in to fix the broken WiFi because the promise of independent cabin operations was not really true.
The Tramway is not as safe as it should be because RIOC has done nothing to correct the problem and has not even discussed future remedies. RIOC’s communications are awful by any measure, but where is the oversight? Where are the elected officials who promised they’d look out for us?
And when you think about it, without an independent investigation into what happened, how do we know that this is the only single point of failure? Is RIOC hiding other weaknesses?
Dismayed over the official silence, we sought expert guidance about the Tramway’s lack of redundancy.
Here’s what we learned:
Redundancy in transportation systems plays a critical role, especially when people depend on them as safe and secure.
Redundancy refers to the presence of alternative routes, modes, or options within a transportation network, which helps ensure continuous safe and reliable mobility for individuals.
In the event of disruptions such as natural disasters, accidents, or infrastructure failures, redundancy allows for the continuation of transportation services by providing alternative paths or means of travel.
This helps minimize the impact of disruptions on people’s daily lives and ensures that essential services can still be accessed.
Studies have shown that transportation network redundancy enhances the resiliency and robustness of the system. It improves the ability of transportation networks to withstand and recover from unexpected events, reducing the overall vulnerability of the system.
Additionally, redundancy can enhance efficiency by reducing congestion and improving travel times. With multiple options available, travelers can choose alternative routes or modes of transportation, distributing the demand across the network more evenly.
In summary, redundancy is critical in transportation systems where people are dependent as it ensures safety as well as continuous access to transportation services, increases resilience and improves overall system efficiency.
So, why are RIOC and all the officials we critically depend on silent?
FDNY, NYPD, elected and unelected officials already turn a blind eye toward the ridiculous and unnecessary Chief Kevin Brown Fire Hydrant Blockade endangering the lives of Roosevelt Islanders in Island House, Westview and Roosevelt Landings.
Tell RIOC’s board members, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, Senator Liz Krueger, City Council Member Julie Menin, FDNY, NYPD and Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas to stop endangering Roosevelt Islanders’ lives.