Monday, April 7, 2014

Roosevelt Island Parents And Disabled Looking For Help With Broken Tram Station Elevator - When Will RIOC Start Work On New Elevator?

Reported last January 15:

The frequently broken and out of service Roosevelt Island Tram Manhattan Station elevator

Image Of Broken Roosevelt Island Manhattan Tram Station Elevators

was a subject of discussion during the January 14 Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Real Estate Advisory Committee meeting.

RIOC President Charlene Indelicato began the discussion by apologizing to Roosevelt Island residents for the Tram Elevator and handicap lift being out of service so often and described measures RIOC is taking to fix the current situation. As to a more permanent solution, Ms Indelicato reported that a Request For Proposals for a new tram elevator will be issued by the end of this month and it should take a year from that date for a new Tram Station Elevator to be in service which will be installed where the red handicap lift is currently located....
... Ms. Indelicato reported that when RIOC is informed of the Tram Elevator being out of service, a Public Safety Officer or other RIOC employee will be sent to the Manhattan station. However, the RIOC employee will not lift Wheelchairs or large strollers up the stairs, but at the discretion of the RIOC employee, may be able to help with small strollers....
Earlier today, I asked Ms. Indelicato if the RFP for new Tram elevator was issued yet. I have not yet heard back but according to the RIOC web site, it has not.

Roosevelt Island Parents' Network Susy del Campo Perea and Roosevelt Island Disabled Association President Jim Bates sent this April 4 letter to RIOC President Charlene Indelicato expressing frustration and concern over the status of the broken Tram Station elevator. According to Ms. Perea and Mr. Bates:
We reached out to RIOC in January 2013 and have been doing so regularly since. We have provided you with many ideas and suggestions to have an appropriately functioning Tram station for us, the disabled, the seniors and the parents of Roosevelt Island, who rely on elevator service when traveling by the Tram.

This winter, both the primary and back-up elevator (elevator and red lift) were out of service frequently and often simultaneously. The Island’s population of families has swelled in recent years making a working elevator more imperative than ever. When only the red lift is functioning, Tram employees often do not assist ‘mobility reduced’ persons, such as parents with strollers, disabled people, and senior citizens by operating the lift. Moreover, there is no-one opening the gate to get to the pre-loading area. Additionally, there are no heaters outside the gate on the Island side.

In addition, as the F-Train has been out of service during many weekends the past couple of years, if both Tram elevators are out of service during those (quite regular) subway suspensions, parts of the population are trapped on the island. This is both a quality of life and a safety issue.

On March 16th, the main elevator broke down completely and RIOC acted very quickly. Even though there was no sign on Roosevelt Island’s side that the Main elevator was not working, there was Tram personnel on Manhattan’s side operating the lift. The Parents’ Network acted quickly to inform the more than 300 families about the state of the Tram elevator so everyone with a stroller could plan accordingly: either take the F train or wait for the lift at the Tram station.

Please note that being theoretically able to take the F-Train instead of the Tram is not always an efficient solution, for example when parents need to bring their children to schools or daycares off Island. Parents report that they can not take the F-Train in the morning as the Subway is full and the stroller does not fit in, causing them to miss several trains and to be late for school and their own work by 30-60 minutes. Here residents again rely on the Tram and a functioning elevator on the Manhattan side.

Unfortunately, the efforts made by RIOC, RIRA and the Parents’ Network to make the best of the current situation while we wait for a replacement of the main elevator and lift have not been enough or executed accordingly by the Tram personnel.

For example, from the week of March 16th to March 21st, there have been many warnings from parents that the lift is not being operated and/or that the lift is being operated but that they are not able to ride the Tram because there is no Tram personnel at the gate. Parents have complained of no signage on the Island sign warning of this. Conversely, there have not been many reports in the past week of things running as they should, that lift has been operated accordingly, and they can enter the pre-boarding area of the tram on the Island side.

We understand that the break down of the main elevator is not a planned malfunction. Therefore, the contingency plan must be implemented: operating the Red Lift to assist the seniors, handicaps and parents with strollers.

Below is a table with dates and time stamps illustrating the working condition of the lift as reported to and by the Parents’ Network.

Please note the time stamp, which shows exactly when the lift is not being operated for the parents with strollers that needed to use it.
As previously emailed to Mr. Opperman and Mr. McManus, during the week of March 17-21, there has been trouble accessing the pre-boarding area of the Tram on the Manhattan side, while one Tram employee is operating the lift.

Here is an example of an email sent to the Parents’ Network on this point:
“There is only one person working at the Manhattan side station. So, she is operating the elevator (there were @ 6-7strollers waiting to go down and others coming up) so there was no one at the gate to open the door for us, so bunch of us waited a long time and missed the tram. PSD staffs were just standing "right in front of the gate", and my mom asked them to open the  gate, but they did not want to open thegate for us (they pointed at the lady who was working on the elevator,, wanted us to wait for her..)  until we all missed the tram.

I still do not understand who can open the gate and cannot. PSD staffs are not allowed to open the gate? (they eventually opened it for all of us reluctantly though..)

We hope things will go on little more smoothly,, (since it is so cold to wait out there!!)”
Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM.
“If we are not allowed to operate it on our own and no one is stationed there to operate it for us, it is just the same thing as it is no working.”Mrs. KE. Fri, 21 Mar 2014  14:20
The report received to the RI Parents Network by Mr. Aaron Hamburger, RIRA Representative:
“Mar 21, 2014 13:55 PM, "Aaron Hamburger"  wrote:
The red elevator is definitely operating. My wife used it at 12 noon and again at 1:30 PM today (Friday). The only problem is that a Tram person needs to be around to run the elevator. You can't operate it by yourself.
- - - - - - - - - Aaron Hamburger
• No signs or incorrect signs displayed. Reported: Thu, 20 Mar 2014
“I thought they were making 2 different signs to avoid confusion,, (I thought that was where we left off before?) but it seems like they did not.”
On Thursday March 20th, around noon I bumped and spoke to a POMA employee at Starbucks and I asked him why the lift is not being consistently used when the main elevator is out. His answer was that unless they have two people working on the Manhattan side, the lift will not be operated unless the operator on the Manhattan side is willing to operate it for all of us who are in need.  Then he looked at my double stroller with my three month old and two year old and exclaimed, “That’s a big production, you shouldn’t carry that stroller up and down the stairs.” Meanwhile many parents have noted seeing two employees on the Manhattan side just working the gate and not assisting with the lift.

I would like to follow up on the suggestions made by Ms Eva Bosbach on behalf of the RI Parents' Network and the RIRA Island Services Committee that:

  1. RIOC expedites the replacement of the elevators.  Incidentally, this is already approved in RIOC's 2014/2015 budget (also see January 13 2014 letter to RIOC by NY State Senator Jose Serrano requesting the elevator to be promptly fixed). The estimated completion date is now February 2015. In the meantime of the beginning of the replacement, a monthly preventive maintenance to the elevator and lift could be employed to have at least one of them always in service.
  2. RIOC provides additional personnel on the Manhattan side of the Tram to assist to residents in going up and down the stairs.  If this is a liability issue then an additional person should be on duty to always have one person operating the lift.  Another suggestion is to allow the stationed Public Safety officer on the Manhattan side to allow the paying parents open the pre-boarding gate while the Tram personnel is operating the lift. (Please read the email of parent with comments about this issue). If there’s only one Tram personnel to operate the lift and to guard the gate, then we are going to continue to have problems with the lift being only operated when the personnel wants to and not when it is needed, like has been happening the whole past week. Please see emails with dates and times above.
  3. RIOC provides Red Bus service to and from Manhattan when both elevators are out of service and the Subway is not running or the Subway elevator to Manhattan is Out of Service.  We fully understand that this might be difficult to do "on call" as this combination usually occurs suddenly and during the weekend, with the exception of the Subway elevator. That is why we ask that a Red Bus service, at least a couple every hour or every other hour, is established for all weekends when the F-Train will be not running until the elevators are replaced, and in the case the Subway elevator to Manhattan is out of service.
  4. Alternatively, a phone number could be provided which residents with needs could call for an on-demand car service run by RIOC in such cases. As a reminder, a car service to Manhattan from Roosevelt Island ranges between $27 to $38 plus gratuity depending on the time of the day. There is no way possible for a parent to ride with 1, 2 or 3 kids (baby, toddler, small child) to Manhattan in a weekday by him/herself in a car service paying those amounts, instead of the $2.75 per ride of the MTA.
  5. Install a security camera which would monitor and record the turnstile and gate area, and, ideally, be watched by the Tram operator in the booth on the Manhattan side or the PSD (like they are watching and recording the current CCTV that exist on the island and inside Roosevelt Landings). In case of an improper use of the gate, either alert the operator inside the Tram to make the person pay on the RI side, or catch the person on the Manhattan side and remind them of paying the fare. This would solve the problem we currently have where the one employee must operate the lift and open the tram door on the Manhattan side, while PSD just watches.
  6. At a bare minimum – accurate and timely signage must be provided on the Island side communicating when both elevators are out of service so residents may change their travel plans accordingly.  We had been successful with this request: After Mrs. Bosbach was in touch with RIOC and Leitner/POMA, two signs (stating one or both elevators are out of service) have been produced and should now be placed at the Tram station accordingly. For this week of March 16th- 21st, no signs were displayed, or were erroneous.
  7. For RIOC to consider using the funds from Cornell and New York State for these solutions - the Tram will be one of the services on the Island which will definitely be used by Cornell staff and students.
  8. Continue to work on a permanent solution to help with opening theTram gate on the Island side (in addition to the morning rush hour personnel).
Best regards,

Susy del Campo Perea
MS, Supply Chain Management and Technology
Cybernetics and Computer Science Engineer
Mother of 2
Member of RI Parents Network


Jim Bates
RIDA President
Here is video from January 14 RIOC Operations Committee meeting discussion of the broken Tram Station elevator.