Monday, January 28, 2013

Roosevelt Island Mom Seeking Solutions For Baby Stroller Access At Tram Gate - Asks RIOC For Help

Reported earlier this month about a Roosevelt Island Mom successfully getting the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) to fix a playground swing that had been broken for over a year. Now that Mom, Eva Bosbach, is trying to resolve a more difficult problem.

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Member and Mom Eva Bosbach shares this request she sent last week to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Chief Engineer Alex Snedkov:

I have been in touch with Donald Lewis about a broken swing at a RI play ground last week (thank you again, Donald, for acting so quickly on that!) and announced that I will be contacting RIOC with a few other issues in the next days.

The following issue is more complex, but also perhaps more important as the effects of the current situation cannot be avoided and have implications for the health of residents and their babies. It concerns the access to the Roosevelt Island Tram by parents with strollers.

I am writing to you in my capacity as the coordinator of the Roosevelt Island Parents Network (currently 117 families here on the island), as the leader of the Island Kids baby group, as a RIRA Common Council representative for Southtown and a member of the RIRA Island Services committee.

The issue has been discussed at the last RIRA Island Services Committee meeting on 1/9/2013 and has been decided to be taken action on....

Since the large reconstruction of the Tram, I keep receiving complaints from parents with strollers about the Tram access specifically for this group of residents. Because the strollers do not fit through the regular turnstiles and there is no other possibility to swipe the card and pre-board for the Tram, parents with strollers have to wait until someone from the Tram personnel comes to open the gate for them. All other residents and passengers who pay can go through and pre-load. This situation is unfair, affects timing (sometimes a parent misses the Tram even though she or he was the first one at the station but had to wait for someone to open the gate and in the mean-time everybody else pre-loaded and filled the Tram once it came so that there was no space left for the parent with stroller). But more importantly, it also affects the health of the residents and their babies, as for example new moms who just gave birth or newborns in strollers have to wait in the cold in front of the gate and cannot get to the heaters.

Ideas for a solution include:

- add heaters and a bench outside (area where a weather-protected waiting room existed in the past)

- provide the gate with a buzzer and a camera, so that the personnel upstairs controlling the system can see who wants to use the gate and can buzz the parent with the stroller through

- assign a staff person to be on site permanently to open the gate (like on the Manhattan side of the Tram), at least during rush hours

- work with Public safety on making it a part of the job description of the PS person in the booth to open the door if there is a parent with stroller waiting (since they sit there anyway and 8 of 10 of the PS officers are helpful and open the gate, but some do not, so obviously they currently don't have to)

- install a special circulating door (like in zoos) which can be used for a stroller - has enough room to turn a stroller plus a person through to the other side after you swiped your Metro Card - since the Tram will be shut down during non-rush hours in the following weeks anyway, perhaps this could be added to the planned renovations of the station

- work with MTA on a special Metrocard for parents with strollers, similar to the one for wheel chair users, which can open the gate automatically after the card has been swiped

- work with MTA on an receipt issuing machine for the gate which could be used if a person does not fit through the regular door and needs to use the gate - similar like for a Manhattan express bus, the machine would handle out a receipt and open the gate for the person to access the waiting area, but only after payment took place plus the receipt would provide a proof of payment.

This issue is an ongoing source of complaints in the large community of parents on Roosevelt Island....

On behalf of all parents, especially the ones with young babies, I ask you to act toward a solution of this issue as soon as possible, as the progressing winter continues and worsens the problem.

Thank you very much,
Ms. Bosbach demonstrates the problem by swiping her metro card at the turnstyly

and then waiting in the cold

until the Tram Gate can be opened before entering the Boarding Area

and the Tram.

Hopefully a resolution can be found quickly.


Denise Shull said...

Good luck - sincerely. There are SO many young families here that we all really need to start thinking of their needs when considering infrastructure and transportation issues. Thank you for so cogently laying this one out.

Gabriel cohen said...

is this bitch crazy? so what (newsflash you AINT special), you and every other PERSON needs to abide by the policies in place. My mother and myself were the first of 150 families who moved here in 1976, I was on the first tram ride when mayor Abe Beame inauguration (opening) and since then there have been mothers with carriages utilizing the tram WITHOUT the insistence of some F****kin special privilege of a doorman or security guard at your beckon call to open up the phuckin gate. Guess what this island has been awesome - for the last 35 years without you idiot interlopers putting demands that are self serving upon a logistical system that has operated near flawlessly for nearly half a century. suck it up lady and wait inline like everybody else, kids do not infer some special right to supersede or strain demands that already operate efficiently. I grew up here attended 217, and have seen your kind come and go - here for a couple of years while your hubby gets his PhD then you're gone. why dont you focus on have the dog poop picked up in the once pristine grassy areas by the sprinklers and blackwell park (the play area behind "the old house" (blackwell house). or take up knitting. May I remind you however, a snot nose little sh*t does not grant you anymore or less privileges
than anybody else......HAG

Jesse Webster said...

Give me a break. Here we go with the stroller mafia, angling to take over yet another crowded conveyance.

Open strollers have no place on public transit, particularly at peak times.

During rush hours and subway outages, when the crowd waiting to "pre-board" is dense, a considerate parent should choose an alternate means to carry their child on the tram, one that doesn't take up as much space as an open stroller.

Outside of rush hours and subway outages, the "pre-board" crowd is not likely to be dense enough to cause a parent to be left behind, and we all have the luxury of minimizing our wait times by timing our arrival at the station to coincide with the tram schedule.

At most, a parent would be waiting 15 minutes "in the cold," likely alongside one or more of our disabled neighbors who also must wait to have the door opened by a staff member. Unlike the disabled, however, stroller-pushing parents have an option: fold the stroller and walk through the turnstile with your kid.

Once in Manhattan, most subway stations aren't equipped to provide the level of accommodation being requested in the post. And bus operators are likely to ask you to fold your stroller before you board, although they shouldn't have to -- it ought to be common courtesy, especially during peak times.

At worst, this is an annoyance for parents with strollers. But it's not an annoyance that warrants any of the extensive, and likely expensive, solutions noted.

RooseveltIslander said...

Is it possible to express your disagreement without calling people ugly names? I would appreciate it if you would edit your comment so that a civil conversation can take place on this subject.

Janet Falk said...

People with strollers, people in wheelchairs shoppers with folded carts and people with bicycles are all stuck waiting for the tram operator to open the gate.

My neighbor rides a bicycle for the morning commute, arriving in time to board. By the time the operator finishes chatting with passengers, dawdles and opens the gate, the cabin is full. My neighbor is forced to wait for the next tram, despite arriving among the first for the 8:15 run.

A tram staff person should be stationed on the R I side for the morning commute to open the gate for ALL those with wheeled vehicles who need help to board on time.

Tram staff on the Manhattan side should be instructed to open the gate for all passengers who need assistance; as Eva indicated, most, but not all, do so already.

Tram operators should promptly open the gate if no staff are on the platform to do so.

Also, they should encourage passengers to crowd together to accommodate passengers traveling with wheeled vehicles that require additional space.

Passengers should cooperatively make room for wheeled vehicles of passengers that require additional space.

Customer service and common courtesy, especially among commenters, will go a long way to resolving this issue.

Frank Farance said...

Mr. Webster, you miss the point: Some people who are disabled need to have the gate open. A mother (as caretaker that day, because the caretaker was unavailable) was taking her son (severely disabled) and needed the gate open, but the Public Safety officer refused. "Folding up the son" is not a possibility. After complaining to Public Safety, Deputy Director Rene Bryan rationalized this (according to the mother) by saying the officer would need to inspect the child's credentials (this child is obviously disabled). Ridiculous.

And those with strollers are carrying their children in the safest way. For sure, when my twins were that age, they were safer in a stroller. Not to mention, folding up strollers and such only delay the boarding process and make for a more dangerous and (sometimes) larger footprint (i.e., even less cabin efficiency).

The real problem is poor human factors design, something that could be fixed in a variety of ways.

However, picking on people because they are mobility impaired is the wrong approach.

RooseveltIlsander said...

Well if it's not for the "stroller mafia" something should be done for our disabled neighbors. As a society we need to accommodate person we need to, not put them apart, are we gonna ask overweight person to not come during rush hour "because they have to be considerate"?

RooseveltIlsander said...

In your last open you arrive 1 year earlier with only 20 families, what happen?

RooseveltIslander said...

Please don't confuse readers by using the same name as the Blog's Publisher.

The above comment was not written by the Blog Publisher. My comments always have "Mod" for Moderator next to the name.

Jesse Webster said...

I was certainly not "picking on" any of our disabled neighbors. I meant to point out that (most) parents with strollers have the option to fold the stroller and go through the turnstile, and that an individual in a wheelchair does not have that option.

Trevre Andrews said...

This is a lot of discussion to solve a simple problem. RIOC can simply negotiate with MTA to make a the emergency door both alternative entrance for those who can't pass through the turnstiles. They could easily add a button or a handle on the outside of the door and a sign that says " entrance used for those who cannot pass through the turnstiles, please swipe your card at the turnstile before entering".

This is the stupidest rule in NYC. Everyone uses the exit gate to take their bike/box/stroller/wheel chair through. I have been told many times by the Tram operator/PSD that this is against the rules, well what a stupid rule. I think we are all old enough to get our own bike through the emergency gate. Yes you can get a ticket, they could easily make an exception at the tram station, I doubt we are loosing a lot of money to people trying not to pay the fare, plus there is someone there every 5 minutes to watch, it's the worst place in the city to try and jump the turnstiles.

What we don't need is another full time button pusher or a 100K giant revolving door, or 100K tram enclosure ruined as "ROIC" graffiti is plastered all over the perfectly beautiful transparent glass that doesn't enclose anything. We need a $50 sign, someone to arrange it with MTA so transit police won't ticket there, and a little thought put into how we run this island. Everything doesn't need a permit, an application, a rule, an exception, or a review process that takes years to get anything done. Would someone at RIOC just make this happen so we can get back to more important things?

YetAnotherRIer said...

Agreed. I raised three kids here on this island and it is not hard to plan around things like how to get onto the tram platform or how to get home w/o using the red bus if needed. The people that should be complaining are the senior citizens with their walkers or the folks in wheel chairs. Not entitled parents.

Gabriel cohen said...

The harsh language is used as a didactic tool,

Gabriel cohen said...

Oh I'm sorry maybe you can remember every detail when you were 5 or 6 but I cannot ( I did not realize that this blog was legally binding) nonetheless, my facts are correct and more importantly VERIFIABLE through 217- various members of the community whom I've known for the past 30+ years,, pictures and most importantly the few people who moved here about the same time as my mother and myself.your petulant comments make you sound like 2 year old....shall I hold the Tram gate open for you?.....moron

CheshireKitty said...

Dislike the attitude of calling the parents "entitled". Parents aren't entitled. That's bs. They're set upon day & night by constant demands and responsibilities. It would be nice to find a way to let all the residents through the turnstile without having some wait to be let in, and then wait again because the tram has filled up in the meanwhile. I think the easiest thing is to issue the disabled-entry type of Metrocard to parents with kids in strollers - the same courtesy could also be extended to cyclists. We don't have the equivalent of a token booth attendant at the tram station - who would ordinarily buzz a parent with a stroller through the gate. The easiest thing would be to let parents with small children apply for the Metrocards issued to the wheelchair users that enable them to swipe their cards and have the gate open.

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Clare Raj said...

Too bad we weren't all lucky enough to come to Roosevelt Island on the Mayflower like you. In your own words(newsflash you AIN'T special) I am sure there is a simple solution to this problem that would benefit MANY mothers and disabled people. Since there are many parents and people recovering from spinal cord injuries living on this island, it seems ridiculous that this easy to solve problem hasn't been addressed.

R Ashley said...

Although tram attendants have been quite nice to me and have opened the gate for me on many occasions, it would be wonderful if the door was accessible with the stroller and without the need to call on an attendant or for help from others. In order to swipe as it is right now, it is necessary to leave the stroller and child behind (if even for just a moment), or to ask someone else to swipe my card for me,.. both of which are disconcerting and seemingly could be solved with one of the Parents Network's many suggestions. I've heard that one parent had a bad experience since the tram attendant didn't confirm that they had swiped their card, and suspected that they were stealing a ride. I would hate to have an argument over such a thing. There are cameras all over the place, and even then a person could just as easily hop the turnstiles if they wanted to be dishonest and disrespect the valuable public transit resources that we are so lucky to share.

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