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Thread: Roosevelt Island Tram

  1. #16


    Roosevelt Islanders May Be Left Hanging

    Tram Disruption Coincides With Residential Boom

    By CANDACE TAYLOR, Staff Reporter of the Sun
    June 5, 2008

    Roosevelt Islanders who rely on the aerial tramway connecting the island to Manhattan will soon have to find an alternative route.

    Konrad Fiedler/New York Sun
    Roosevelt Island Tram over new construction on the island.

    The tramway is expected to be closed between June 10 and June 18, which will give residents a taste of the transportation woes they will face next year, when it is scheduled to be taken out of service for at least six months. Next year's timing is inconvenient: The tram's closure will come at a time when several hundred new residents are expected to move into two new buildings now under construction.

    Some 2,000 new units will be completed in the next few years, part of a construction boom that, when completed, will have nearly doubled the island's population. But transportation links between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan have not kept pace with the development. With the tram's scheduled outage, the already overcrowded subway service on the F line, and ferries only a far-off possibility, advocates and elected officials are warning that the island's transportation woes will soon reach crisis proportions if nothing is done.

    "Roosevelt Island is literally bursting at the seams," the assemblyman who represents Roosevelt Island, Micah Kellner, said. "The MTA really needs to address this, especially since the other major mode of transportation is going to be down for seven to 12 months."

    Roosevelt Island, which had a population of roughly 10,000 people in 2000, may house between 18,000 and 19,000 people by 2010, according to some estimates.

    A narrow strip of land in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, Roosevelt Island is owned by the city but leased to New York State. It was long the site of hospitals and long-term care facilities, and then a number of high-rise apartment buildings were built there in the 1980s and 1990s.

    In 1997, Hudson Properties and the Related Cos. were awarded the development rights to build nine new residential high-rises there. Four buildings have been built so far, with employees at local hospitals occupying much of the space. New York University also purchased a block of units in one of the buildings, Riverwalk Landing.

    The fifth building, Riverwalk Court, will be ready for occupancy by the end of the year, while the sixth building, which is not yet named, will be ready in the first quarter of 2009. One-bedrooms in Riverwalk Court start at $575,000, two-bedrooms at $785,000, and three-bedrooms at $1.225 million, she said.

    Plans for the last three projects are being finalized, a vice president at Related, Kimberly Sherman Stamler, said. "What's unique about Roosevelt Island is that, no matter what apartment you're in, you're looking into open space," she said. "You feel like you're on an oasis."

    Next year's $25 million overhaul is an effort to make the 30-year-old tram more reliable and easier to repair, the president of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp., Stephen Shane, said. Tram safety has come under scrutiny in the last two years, following a malfunction that left commuters stranded over the East River for nearly 12 hours. "We don't want that to happen again," Mr. Shane said. "There will be inconvenience in the short run, but the long-term benefits will be significant."

    While the tram is down, the RIOC-operated "red buses" will take residents between the island and the Long Island City transportation hub Queens Plaza, Mr. Shane said.

    Residents say the red buses aren't dependable, even when they're confined to Roosevelt Island. "They're absolutely terrible," a financial analyst who recently moved to the Octagon apartment building on the north of the island, Zack Graney, 21, said. Mr. Graney relies on the red buses for transportation to the subway and the tram.

    During rush hour, the average commuter has to wait for to two or three subway trains to pass before finding space to board, Mr. Kellner said, adding that the island had only 6,000 people when the subway station was built.

    "The F is always dirty and smelly and crowded," a resident who moved to the island in January, Serife Gokdemir, said. "That's the only thing I hate about this island."

    Moreover, like many subway lines in Manhattan, there are frequent service interruptions to the F line on weekends, with trains often not running one way or the other. Because Roosevelt Island has only one subway line, such interruptions severely hamper residents' ability to get on and off the island, the founder of the Web log Roosevelt Island 360, Eric Schwartzman, said. As of mid-May, Mr. Schwartzman reported on his blog that Roosevelt Island had disrupted service for 13 of 20 weekends in 2008.

    A spokeswoman for the MTA, Deirdre Parker, said the recent service interruptions were due to security projects in the 53rd Street tunnel and a switch maintenance job.

    Acknowledging the need for more transportation options, the developer of the Octagon, Becker + Becker, has secured necessary permits for ferry service leaving from the north end of the island, but the city has said it won't begin constructing a dock until at least 2010.

    Ms. Stamler said potential buyers understand the long-term benefit of a new-and-improved tram. "We don't think it's going to impact us as much as people perceive that it will," she said. "The F train is a very popular method of getting to work in the morning."

    The tram repair plan "has not been a hindrance to visitors or sales," she added.

    Mr. Schwartzman said residents are hoping for a ferry or expanded subway service in the future. But for the time being, he said, "the concern is, how is everything going to work?"

    © 2008 The New York Sun,
    Last edited by brianac; June 9th, 2008 at 05:43 AM.

  2. #17


    Roosevelt Island Journal

    What Is Life Without a Tram? Residents Are Getting a Taste

    Published: June 14, 2008

    They waited at the island’s single subway stop as jam-packed cars — two, three, four of them — clacked by without a seat to spare. Then the grumbling began. “The tram is always on time,” said Sally Jenkyn Jones as she forced herself aboard an already brimming F train. “This is always too packed.”

    Librado Romero/The New York Times
    Island residents have to use the F train in unusual numbers.

    Librado Romero/The New York Times
    About 3,000 people a day use the tram, a part of life on the island since 1976. It has been out of service since Monday to permit cable inspection. Service is to resume on Thursday morning.

    Librado Romero/The New York Times
    As part of the brief shutdown, workmen loosened cables in the Roosevelt Island wheelhouse before inspecting them. A six-month shutdown is scheduled next year.

    The roughly 14,000 residents of Roosevelt Island, an improbably peaceful sliver of pseudo-suburbia between Queens and Manhattan, are getting a brief taste of what is to come next year: life without their beloved tram. From Monday this week through Wednesday next week, the service is shut down to permit inspection of the cables.

    Next spring, the gliding red cars, a part of life on the island since 1976, will be taken out of service for at least six months as the system undergoes a $25 million overhaul.

    The sky trolley has become the island’s emblem, and to some, it’s a monument on par with one of the city’s storied bridges. The prospect of months without it has unsettled many residents who worry that its temporary disappearance will overflow the subway station and leave many of the island’s elderly and disabled residents without an easy way to get to Manhattan — much as it did in 2006, when the tram was out of service for more than four months.

    In a place where swing sets dot the shore and the buzz of raucous neighborhoods is a safe distance across the river, the underground bustle of subway transportation seemed almost foreign this week.

    Janet Shea, a 26-year resident of the island, waited impatiently Wednesday morning for the F train. Like many other passengers, she said, she had budgeted the delays into her commuting schedule.

    “I don’t see how the island is going to function next year,” said Ms. Shea, who works in finance. “It’s already a nightmare.”

    That is a common complaint heard by Stephen H. Shane, president and chief executive of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, the state agency that manages the island and the tram. But the overhaul is crucial to keeping the tram running for the next 30 years, Mr. Shane said, and residents will just have to live with the hassle.

    “We know how significant an inconvenience it’s going to be,” he said. “But you have to understand that the prospect of a major complicated system having breakdowns and really putting people in a complete discombobulation is imminent.”

    The 2006 service disruption came after an equipment malfunction stranded tram passengers in midair, some for as long as 11 hours. Yet residents still adore the four-minute journey, which carries them as much as 250 feet above the East River.

    Transportation officials estimate that about 3,000 people ride it each day, compared with the roughly 5,900 who take the subway from the island on an average weekday. Even for those who prefer the subway, the tram is considered an essential part of the island’s transportation system.

    The tram will be out of service so the old system can be replaced with technology that will allow operators to perform maintenance and run a tram car at the same time.

    The inconvenience comes at a time when the number of residents is increasing. In 2000, the population of the 147-acre island was 9,520, according to census figures. Mr. Shane said he expected it to reach 16,000 to 18,000 over the next few years.

    The tram is not only the “symbol of Roosevelt Island,” but an essential means of transportation in light of the population rise, said Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner, a Democrat whose district includes the island.

    “It’s no longer a luxury,” Mr. Kellner said. “It’s a necessity.”

    Mr. Kellner said residents live in fear of the “trifecta”— losing the use of the tram, the subway and the Roosevelt Island Bridge at the same time.
    “When you’re in an area as isolated as Roosevelt Island, you always want to have another means to get out,” he said.

    With an influx of new residents expected, community advocates said they had focused their efforts, with little success, on finding alternative means of transportation.

    They have asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for some help, including extending the Q line, reserving a special car on the F line for Roosevelt Island residents, and adding more bus shuttle service.

    “You can’t just walk two blocks and take another subway,” said Matthew Katz, president of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association. “Here, you walk two blocks and you’re in the water.”

    Peter G. Cafiero, chief of operations planning for New York City Transit, said the authority had received several complaints from island residents about service at the station.

    Mr. Cafiero said the authority could not add more trains, but he said additional staff members would be at platforms next spring to assist riders.

    Roosevelt Island has played an important role in New York for centuries. It was once called Welfare Island because it housed the city’s prisons and poor houses, and later was the site of several hospitals.

    Today, it is a socioeconomic and ethnic melting pot, home to a mix of low- and middle-income and luxury apartments and a racially mixed population. Thirty-seven percent of residents earned less than $35,000, according to the 2000 census, and 23 percent earned more than $100,000.

    Residents say they like the small-town feel, though new high-rises on the south end might seem more at home in a small city.

    Restricted transit or not, Roosevelt Island is popular in New York, and on Saturday, visitors are expected to come to help observe the annual Roosevelt Island Day. Residents will be handing out bagels and trowels, and they and the visitors will work to plant hundreds of flowers across the island by day’s end.

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  3. #18


    Roosevelt Island Tram to lose city's last leather straps on public transit


    Zalcman for News
    Roosevelt Island resident John Simpson holds on to one of the last remaining leather straps in the MTA system.

    Straphangers' long attachment to leather will soon be severed.
    The last remaining leather straps on city mass transit will be retired next year when the Roosevelt Island Tram closes for upgrades.

    The straps, 20 in total, date back to the tram's opening in May 1976.
    "We don't plan on selling off our leather straps," said Steve Shane, head of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp., which runs the tram. "We tend to give that stuff over to the historical society."

    The $25 million rehab project, which includes two new tram cars, will start early next year and likely be completed by November 2009.

    Locals said the straps are popular with out-of-towners and kids who like to use them for "gymnastics routines."

    "You can always tell a tourist on the tram because they're the ones using the straps," said Judith Berdy, head of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. "I think we'll hold on to the straps, and maybe auction a few off for the society."

    The Daily News contacted several well-known transit historians but none knew precisely when leather straps fell out of favor on city mass transit.

    "The word straphanger probably developed around the turn of the [20th] century," said Gene Russianoff, head of the Straphangers Campaign. "I think they removed the straps in my lifetime, maybe in the 1960s."
    Russianoff said his group even flirted with changing their name to reflect the times.

    "We debated whether to change our name from the Straphangers to the Barhangers," he joked.

    Nostalgia buffs looking to hang on to a strap can still ride antique subway cars that are rolled out several times a year by the MTA.

    "Some of our cars feature canvas straps, which most closely replicate the original straphangers' experience," said Roxanne Robertson, director of special projects at the New York Transit Museum. "The canvas is to die for."

    It's unclear what will happen to the two current tram cars when the work begins, but there's likely to be a bidding war for the pieces of Roosevelt Island history.

    Said Berdy: "You could turn one of the cars into a lovely studio apartment."

    © Copyright 2008

  4. #19


    The Roosevelt Island Tram is run by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation not by the MTA. Like the MTA the RIOC is a New York State public benefit corporation. MetroCards can be used on the tram, but only the pay-per-ride type, much like on the PATH train.

  5. #20
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    Default New Roosevelt Island Tram Design

    New Roosevelt Island Tram Design Renderings For Manhattan and Roosevelt Island Stations - Tram Shutdown in September Reopens Next February

    Here are the latest design renderings for the Roosevelt Island Tram Manhattan and Roosevelt Island Stations.

    (Click on images for larger versions)

    RIOC President Steve Shane reports on the progress of the Roosevelt Island Tram Modernization program:
    Tram Overhaul: The schedule for a July 2009 shutdown and December reopening has shifted. The Contractor, POMA, has requested sliding the window of closure to accommodate redesign changes in the structural elements, principally the tower heads and the necessary bracing. Design and fabrication of the various elements is well advanced. A shutdown on September 8 and a reopening in February now being finalized. Better coordination with architectural work at the two stations will result. I met again with Community Board 8 on June 3. Architectural work for Tram stations is proceeding. A preliminary sketch of the Manhattan and Island stations is posted on the RIOC website, but it is an evolving concept.

  6. #21


    Roosevelt Island Tram and the Queensboro Bridge

  7. #22
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Roosevelt Island Tram to Be Grounded At Least 6 Months

    Vidiot's Flickr

    In a curt message to the isolated island natives, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporaton President (RIOC) Steve Shane made the following announcement about a major impending pain in the ass: "Tram: All on schedule for March 1 shutdown. Please familiarize yourself with alternate transportation options. See RIOC's website and posted materials. Less than 3 weeks to go. None should be surprised." According to New Yorkology, the oft-delayed project, expected to last until August 31st, is part of "a major modernization project." Does that mean the tram's being turned into a monorail?!

    Nah, that's more a Shelbyville idea—but the story goes that when the work is done the tram will be less prone to malfunctions that leave riders dangling in the air for 12 hours. The project will also allow the tram cabins to "operate independently" and is expected to improve rush hour travel times, energy efficiency, and enable the service to continue during maintenance. In the meantime, there's always usually the F train, and the RIOC will be operating shuttle buses! Details here [pdf].

  8. #23

  9. #24


    I've got a bad feeling about this.

  10. #25
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

  11. #26


    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    It would be nice to see these scattered around NYC as something useful.

    Maybe it could be like a tourist information booth, kinda like that RedBird train in Kew Gardens. But these cars are a great and important part of NYC history and skyline, so I think both shall be kept.

  12. #27
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Renderings Make Roosevelt Island Tram Look Like the AirTrain

    August 2, 2010, by Sara

    The interior rendering for the new Manhattan tram station.

    Roosevelt Islanders have bigger things to worry about than war: the designs for the new tram stations on Roosevelt Island and Manhattan. With a community meeting on the stations tonight, blog Roosevelt Islander unearths a report full of tram station rendering goodness. The proposed interiors look a little like the tram stations in airport terminals, with sliding glass doors that open when the trains arrive. The exterior designs don't seem to have changed much, if at all, from the ones that provoked hostility from Manhattanites when first announced last year. Have tempers cooled? No matter—even angry commuters will be no match for the new robot overlords.

    The interior rendering for the station on the Roosevelt Island side:

    And the Roosevelt Island station's exterior:

    Review Proposed Design of New Manhattan and Roosevelt Island Tram Stations [Roosevelt Islander]
    Tram Station Improvement Presentation [Scribd]
    Roosevelt Island Tram coverage

  13. #28
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Oct 2002


    Inside, Outside & All Over the New Roosevelt Island Tram Car!

    September 15, 2010, by Joey

    Like Gizmodo unboxing an iPhone for the first time, Roosevelt Islander has a detailed and fairly epic unveiling of the new Roosevelt Island tram car, which arrived under the cover of night in a huge wooden crate.

    Initial reaction: No robots?! They've got until October 5th, when partial tram service is set to resume, to find us some damn robots. (In all seriousness, the new tram actually looks kind of awesome.)

    First New Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin Arrives Boxed And Under Wraps Last Night - Unveiled This Afternoon In All Of It's Shiny, Sleek Glory [Roosevelt Islander]
    Roosevelt Island Tram coverage [Curbed]

  14. #29


    I hope the structure is more competent than the renderings.

  15. #30
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Embargo Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin Test Run Photos Instructs RIOC Staffer - No Way, Information Wants To Be Free

    Image Of Roosevelt Island Tram Test From Judity Berdy
    (click to enlarge images)

    After months and more months of the Roosevelt Island Tram being out of service, testing of the Tram Cabins finally began last week. At that time a Roosevelt Island resident was standing near the Tram Station, observed the Tram Cabins being placed in the Station, saw the Cabin being attached to the Carriage and Cable, and witnessed one of the early (if not the first) test runs of the Roosevelt Island Tram. The Roosevelt Island resident took some pictures, shown above and below, of this important Roosevelt Island milestone. I included these pictures in this post from October 7.

    Image Of Roosevelt Island Tram Test From Judity Berdy

    What could possibly be wrong with doing so? Who could object? Well, someone did object to the pictures being taken and shown to the public. That person was Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President Of Planning and Intergovernmental Affairs Rosina Abramson who saw the pictures being taken and instructed the photographer that the pictures were "embargoed".

    Upon learning of this, I inquired of Ms. Abramson:

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