Friday, April 18, 2008

Regular F Train Service Again This Weekend/Assembly Member Kellner and RIRA President Katz Address MTA on Future of Roosevelt Island Transportation

Image from Subway Nut

The MTA is reporting no subway advisories for F train subway service to and from Roosevelt Island this weekend nor is RIOC reporting any weekend advisories for the Tram, though there is the ongoing work being done on the Roosevelt Island/36th avenue bridge to Long Island City. That is 2 weekends in a row with normal subway service but there will not be a third. Subway service disruptions for Roosevelt Island are scheduled to return next weekend. It looks like a normal transportation weekend for Roosevelt Island.

However, as we all know a normal transportation day on Roosevelt Island is not necessarily a good or even adequate one. Assembly Member Micah Kellner knows this and is continuing his correspondence with MTA President Howard Roberts urging the MTA to improve it's service to Roosevelt Island. Kellner writes to Roberts:
Dear President Roberts:

Thank you for your letter of April 2, continuing our discussion about both short- and long-term transportation problems confronting the residents of Roosevelt Island. I appreciate your commitment to addressing some of the concerns I communicated to you in our conversation and correspondence. However, I am concerned that the MTA’s planning for the upcoming tram overhaul, as well as its response to questions about long-term transportation infrastructure on the island, seem to be somewhat lacking in a sense of urgency and focus.

Roosevelt Island resident Marc Diamond has calculated that, based on NYC Transit data of turnstile swipes at the Roosevelt Island subway and tram stations in September, 2007, tram ridership is approximately half that of subway ridership during the morning rush hour period. This would seem to indicate that that there will be a 50% increase in morning rush passenger numbers at the island’s subway station during the several months that the tram is to be out of service – unless vigorous measures are taken to mitigate the increase.

While I appreciate that the MTA and RIOC have discussed the possibility of extending RIOC’s Red Bus service to Queens during the tram overhaul, I must express my doubts as to whether RIOC will have the capacity to do so at a sufficient rate. I urge you to consider the possibility of instituting MTA rush hour express bus service not only during the tram outage, but permanently. MTA express busses capable of carrying 60-70 passengers at a time directly to the Queensboro Plaza subway station could make an appreciable contribution to reducing overcrowding at the Roosevelt Island F train station as the island’s population continues to grow.

I also welcome your commitment to working with RIOC and Roosevelt Island residents to find long-term solutions to the island’s transportation challenges. I am very supportive of the idea of instituting ferry service to Roosevelt Island as a long-term measure, but immediate solutions are also necessary. Residents have made other suggestions worth exploring – as both interim and long-term possibilities – including the possibility of rerouting every second Manhattan-bound R or V train through the 63rd Street tunnel during the morning rush, or extending the Q train to 71st Ave/Forest Hills.

It is my hope that the MTA’s discussions with Roosevelt Island stakeholders will result in concrete, achievable solutions to the island’s long-term transportation challenges, and that the MTA will be able to move forward with implementation of these measures in the very near future. On an immediate basis, I ask the MTA to go beyond vague assurances and develop a workable plan to use its express busses to accommodate riders who will be displaced during the upcoming tram overhaul.

Again, thank you for your commitment to working with me and other Roosevelt Island stakeholders to address these issues. If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to call me at (212) 860-4906.

Very truly yours,

Micah Z. Kellner

Assembly Member


cc: Matthew Katz, President, Roosevelt Island Residents Association

Stephen H. Shane, President, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation

Deborah VanAmerongen, Commissioner, NYS Division of Housing and Community


Roosevelt Island Resident's Association President Matt Katz testified before MTA President Roberts and the Transit Riders Council on Roosevelt Island's future transportation needs. Here is his statement:
Comments at Transit Riders Council – April 16, 2008

Good evening, Mr. Roberts and Members of the Board:

My name is Matthew Katz and I am the President of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, RIRA, elected to three two-year terms by my neighbors. A little background:

Roosevelt Island is a planned community in the heart of New York City, owned by the City and leased to the State until 2068. Our commuting population is presently composed of 12,000 residents plus the employees of two chronic-care hospitals, various retail stores and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.

We are served by an aerial Tramway, currently operating at capacity and the F train subway line. During the morning commute, the subway platform is jammed and my neighbors must let several trains pass before squeezing into a car. The experts tell us that the problem is caused by increased ridership throughout the length of Queens. We know the causes. What has not been addressed are the solutions to our growing transportation problems. After all, we are an island and we can’t opt for a different bus or subway line when ours are out of service or operating at beyond capacity.

Residential development on Roosevelt Island continues to increase our population. Buildings #5 and #6 of our Southtown complex will be occupied by next winter, to be followed by Buildings #7, #8 and #9. This will surely increase our population to 16,000 or so within the next five years. In addition, there is discussion of converting Goldwater Hospital’s ten-acre site into more residential development. The problem of how we will get to work, get to school, get to doctors’ appointments must be addressed now before our crush becomes a crisis.

A more immediate problem is the question of how to supplement our transportation mix when the Tram is out of service for major renovations starting in 2009. During the rush hour, the Tram carries 125 commuters every four minutes to Second Avenue and 59th Street. We’ve heard vague plans of some bus service to be directed to Queens Plaza to compensate for the loss of service. At present, we don’t know whether the Tram outage will be for six months, nine months or some other period, but planning should begin now. Clearly, the RIOC fleet of Red Buses is inadequate to deal with the Tram downtime. I know that our Assemblyman, Micah Kellner, addressed some of these problems to you in his March 19th letter, but I want to reinforce his concern that the Transit Authority must deal with these issues and in a timely manner.

When I spoke to your predecessor, Larry Reuter, in similar circumstances during the winter of 2002, to press for the inclusion of the Tram in the MetroCard system, he was enthusiastic. We began a two-year process of negotiation with RIOC, in which I acted as a factor, and with the help of then City Council Speaker, Gifford Miller, that culminated in the elimination of the last two-fare zone in New York City.

My goal is to enlist your assistance in maintaining my Island community’s ability to move freely to and from Manhattan. At present, we haven’t a single working dock on Roosevelt Island and, even with the inclusion of Water Taxi service, this will only be a drop in the bucket of our transit needs. I look to you and your organization to provide the solutions that will maintain the viability of my island home.

Thank you for your time.


Anonymous said...

You say subway will be disrupted next weekend but you link to your March 14th page. Huh? Which direction will be shut down next week? I don't see it on the MTA web site.


If you scroll down to the middle of the post you will see a message from Steve Shane advising that the MTA is planning f train disruptions for Roosevelt Island April 26-28.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty clear that the disruptions tend to not occur on weekends with holidays or other events. This weekend, it's Passover. I believe there was no disruption on Easter weekend either. Otherwise, the closures continue ad infinitum.

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