Official Tram silence sought protection from exposure for RIOC as frightening incidents of cabins swinging widely on cables escalated. But City Council Member Julie Menin, not frozen by a state gag order, broke out with an appeal, asking the agency to come clean on Tram safety. This did not end well. For RIOC or its passengers.
by David Stone
“I am writing to express my concerns about the safety of the Roosevelt Island Tram,” Menin began in a letter to RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes.
After noting multiple incidents of cabins swinging out of control, she concluded, “It is critical that the safety and wellbeing of those visiting and living in Roosevelt Island is ensured by having the tram properly maintained.”
Breaking the Tram Silence
Prior to Menin’s penetrating the wall of Tram silence, not a single official, elected or public, RIOC executive or board member spoke out. But once she did, a gusher followed.
Most telling was an advisory plunked out by “Team RIOC”* last evening, a message so deeply flawed, it shocked many readers. *The Roosevelt Islander blog attributes this message to Haynes, but we can’t verify that. The advisory cited the anonymous, often weirdly inaccurate “Team RIOC.”
Let’s take a critical look.
“Dear Roosevelt Island Community,” it begins with sincerity so false you can guess what’s coming will be consistent.
“We are aware that a video has been circulating recently, showing the Tram swaying during operation. POMA has assured us that there is no risk to the health and safety of our passengers.”
Note to RIOC: There are now over a half-dozen videos and reports with two more added from wildly swinging incidents from yesterday.
The Daily has already reported on one passenger injured, and the Roosevelt Islander post cited above quotes a terrified passenger: “Today (Wednesday Oct 25) traveling from Manhattan on the Tram at approximately 3:30pm the cabin started rocking wildly — women started screaming, people reported nausea. Thankfully no one vomited. Also thankfully I was seated because that severity of rocking could cause a fall and possible injury.”
“The issue at hand,” Team RIOC continued “is related to a communications system message that appears at random and requires an employee to confirm the message. When this message appears and awaits confirmation from an employee, the Tram will stop, causing it to sway if it is already in operation.”
Flakey though they may be, even RIOC must know this statement is gobbledygook. It’s gibberish disguised as a real couple of sentences. Who keeps writing this slop?
“Rest assured, we have been in constant communication with our vendor, POMA, regarding this matter. Per POMA, there is no imminent threat to the health and safety of our passengers.”
Are you resting assured right now? Probably not if you’re on or planning on boarding a Tram cabin soon.
“POMA is actively working to address the communication systems messaging issue, and once it is rectified, we will promptly send out an update to the public.”
It’s a month now, and POMA appears lost.
“The Roosevelt Island Tram is safe to use, and it remains fully functional,” RIOC adds, but no, it clearly isn’t, and no, it doesn’t.
“POMA staff on board are easily identifiable by their RIOC branding. If you ever have any concerns or issues during your tram ride, please don’t hesitate to approach them. They are there to assist you and will communicate in real time with riders if any situation arises.”
That’s a complete falsehood, and whatever became of PSD? Some of the POMA team members are old friends who care about the community. Others “don’t need you, and man, they expect the same.” (Credit: Bob Dylan.)
“Your safety and well-being are our top priorities,” RIOC lied in conclusion, “and we appreciate your understanding as we work to resolve this issue promptly.”
Prompt was over weeks ago.
Tram Silence: The Enduring Mystery
More troubling, in the long run, is the silence from the Hochul administration amplified by elected officials, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Senator Liz Krueger. RIOC board members, with the exception of Ben Fhala were silent too, but that’s expected from the virtual bobbleheads.
With all this going on, the liability, the sworn to pledges during elections season, you might expect at least a whimper. But you won’t get it. Not in this state. Not on this Island.