Thursday, February 26, 2015

Roosevelt Island Parents With Strollers Want Action On Repairing Manhattan Tram Station Elevators - RIOC Replies With Status Update

As previously reported, on February 13 the Roosevelt Island Manhattan Tram station elevators broke and have remained out of service to date. In order to assist those who are not able to climb the stairs

 Image Of Manhattan Tram Station Staircase

to the Manhattan Tram station - parents with strollers, the disabled, seniors -  the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) provided hourly (7 AM - 8 PM weekdays) Red Bus Shuttle service to and from Manhattan.

Image Of RIOC Red Bus Shuttle On Queensboro Bridge To Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island resident Katherina Hayat shares this message she sent to RIOC today
As you know the two elevators at the Roosevelt Island tramway have been out of order for 2 weeks now. The two elevators are crucial for the residents of Roosevelt Island in order to leave the island.

It’s no secret that there is a demand for more elevators in the whole of NYC but I believe that especially at this station the elevators need to work. It’s not only parents or caregivers with children in strollers who use them in order to reach Manhattan but it’s also elderly people and especially the many people bound to wheelchairs who use the tram regularly.

Apart from using the F-line instead, there are no other options for these people to leave the island unless they pay for expensive taxis, which is probably in any case hard to do when you are sitting in a wheelchair. Since the F-Line elevator at 63rd and Lexington is also under construction there are no other possibilities to reach the Upper East Side and the surrounding areas. For people with strollers buses are also no option, as the MTA requests all strollers be folded up, which for some models just won’t work.

I have a baby in a stroller myself and having no elevator makes it really hard to get around in the city. I am sure you are aware of the problem and you understand our situation, but we surely can’t wait several months until the elevators are fixed. It should be a priority to make it easier for residents (especially those in wheelchairs) to leave the island.

A few days ago, when it was very cold and slippery outside, I followed three parents who were traveling on the tram with strollers in order to find out how they manage to go down the stairs and also to offer my help if needed. I was horrified to see a caregiver who was just pushing the child in the stroller down the stairs. Not everyone of the other passengers is willing to help and not everyone can always have someone on their side to help them with a stroller. I would suggest that either someone can be there to help parents with kids or that a ramp be installed so both parents and people in wheelchairs can exit the tram in a safe way. Maybe having a ramp could also be a long term solution for this problem.

We all love living on Roosevelt Island but not having any elevators in Manhattan has influenced our quality of life here substantially.
Roosevelt Island resident Susana Gardete shares this message she sent to RIOC today.
I am a resident of Roosevelt Island and a mother of two children. I commute everyday from RI to the upper east side (using the tram) with my two children sitting on a double stroller.

It has been 12 days that the tram elevators are broken and it has been 12 days that my life has been a nightmare regarding commuting. Luckily, I have been helped by my husband to carry the stroller up and down, but as you can imagine this is a very stressing situation since we have to leave home together in the morning and we have to organize our work schedules to be at the same time in 60th street and 2nd avenue in the afternoon (I work at Weill Cornell medical college and my husband at Mount Sinai school of medicine).

However, there are even worse situations than mine. I spoke with other mothers while in the tram who told me about their " upsetting adventures" these days. They have to commute by themselves with two or three children everyday and they are carrying one of them in the stroller through the stairs.

Also I saw old people and very pregnant women carrying very heavy suitcases and shopping carts through the slippery stairs and pray that a major accident won't happen... The saddest part of it is that no one is willing to help them because people have to rush to to work or are too busy with their lives....

How hard is to fix two elevators when you have 10000 people depending on them?! We are in the NYC, a city that does not stop! Why we have to wait forever to have a solution for this problem?!

I would appreciate if you could take this situation into serious consideration before a tragic accident happens in those stairs!
Earlier today, RIOC sent this update on the Tram Elevator/Red Bus Shuttle status:
Last year, it became clear to many that the elevators at the Manhattan Tram Station were becoming increasingly unreliable. The current service outage has posed a serious inconvenience to those who rely heavily on the Tram to travel to and from Manhattan and who are prevented, for one reason or another, from using the stairs at the station. This issue is further complicated by the MTA elevator outage at 63rd Street/Lexington Avenue, which has been out of service since July 2014 (

Early on in the replacement process, RIOC issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a contractor to design and build two new ADA accessible elevators. Due to a lack of qualified vendors with an interest in a project of smaller scope compared to larger, city- wide construction projects, the design and construction phases of the project must be performed by separate vendors. While this necessity has caused a delay, the New York State procurement process mandates that we issue an RFP for both phases of this project to ensure that vendors are evaluated and selected fairly, using a comprehensive set of criteria.

Current Conditions

The main station elevator is subject to frequent outages due to issues with its hydraulic system; in particular, with water leaking into the elevator’s housing, which affects the moving parts that raise and lower the elevator cabins. Once water has seeped into the machinery, it must be pumped out before any work can be performed. Our elevator maintenance and service contractors, the KONE Corporation, will be on site tomorrow, Friday February 27th, to perform repair work. Once the work is completed, barring any underlying issues, we expect the elevators to return to service before the end of next week.

The inconvenience caused by the main elevator outage is further aggravated by the red accessible lift being out of service as well. The lift and the elevator are both older models, having been installed when the station was first constructed. As such, replacement parts are carried only by a limited number of contractors. They can be difficult to find, and generally are not available on short notice. The necessary parts to repair the lift have been ordered and we are currently waiting for them to arrive. Once the parts are delivered, contractors will be able to repair the lift to working order.

Replacement Process

As the elevators are due for an overhaul, the most efficient way to deal with these issues is through a total replacement of the current system. Two new elevators are planned to replace the current elevator as well as the red accessible lift, improving the station’s accessibility. After rating and ranking responses to an RFP to design two larger ADA- accessible elevators, RIOC has selected Wank, Adams, Slaven Associates LLP (WASA) as the most qualified contractor. A kickoff meeting with the contractor and our Engineering department was held in early February; the final design for both new elevators is scheduled to be completed in 90 days.

Next Steps

Once WASA’s design is approved, RIOC will seek a qualified contractor to build the elevators to the plan’s specifications. Once responses to an RFP are received and a contractor is selected, the project will enter the construction phase. Contractors will work on one elevator at a time in order to allow elevator service to continue throughout the construction process.

Shuttle Service

During the elevator outage, a special shuttle bus service runs between the Roosevelt Island Tram Station and the Manhattan Tram Station, from 7 AM until 8 PM, on weekdays only. The bus departs hourly from the northwest corner of the Tram Station Plaza, next to Visitor's Kiosk, from 7:00 AM until 8:00 PM. Additional stops are located at 546 Main St. (opposite Good Shepherd Plaza) and 580 Main Street (opposite P.S/I.S. 217).

On its return trip to Roosevelt Island, the shuttle bus departs hourly from the southwest corner of 58th Street and 2nd Avenue from 7:30 AM until 8:30 PM. Additional stops are located at 645 Main St. (P.S./I.S. 217), 579 Main St. (M&D Deli), 543 Main St. (Good Shepherd Plaza), 425 Main St. (Riverwalk Bar & Grill), and the Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza.

Temporary weekday Shuttle Service is planned to continue until either the elevator or accessible lift return to service. To see past advisories issued regarding this service or to sign up for electronic alerts, please visit

The replacement of the Tram elevator and lift is a top priority for RIOC. We understand the inconvenience an outage poses to who rely on the elevators for transit, and we are pushing to expedite the process as far as possible. We will continue to make any repairs necessary to the current system while the new system’s design and build period continues. Thank you for your patience as we work to bring new, more reliable elevators to the Manhattan station.
Below are the ridership statistics for the weekday Manhattan Red Bus Shuttle from 2/17 -2/24:
  • 2/17 - 21 riders
  • 2/18 -25 riders
  • 2/19 - 8 riders
  • 2/20 -2 riders
  • 2/23 - 15 riders
  • 2/24 - 8 riders

More on RIOC's plan for new Tram Elevators at this previous post.

UPDATE 8:10 PM - During RIOC Board Of Directors Public Comment Session this evening, members of the Roosevelt Island Parents' Network expressed their concerns regarding the broken Tram Station elevators. Kaja Meade told the RIOC Board:
I am a mother of two children (3.5 years old and 9 months old.) We’ve lived on the island for over 2 years, and moved here from mid-town east. And this is my stroller.

I need to go to the city every day. Because my children can not walk the distances necessary – without a stroller, I take cabs. Perhaps you'd like to see our recent taxi expenses... When we take a taxi, I have to pay up for Uber with a car seat, or I have to take this car seat (frame) and this belt/carrier/air seat.

This is an issue (as most disagreements are) of priorities. I know that some of you think this is not a priority issue because:
  • I don’t live on the island;
  • I don’t need an elevator (and most don’t);
  • We’re doing something already/at least;
These are not excuses or reasons, and they will not suffice

I think you need to consider your image

What I want you to hear tonight is that no matter what you THINK or SAY you may be doing – to us on the ground it feels like you are DOING NOTHING.

Every day, every one of us that needs help negotiating stairs, thinks of YOU – MULTIPLE times a day. Then we TALK about you to others around us.

These thoughts and comments are not good. We are frustrated, confused, marginalized, saddened, hurt (physically and emotionally), scared, stressed, and annoyed. We blame YOU for this. As public servants you need to focus on this very regular very real frustration as a urgent top priority....

... I realize this is bureaucratic  process, nonetheless I'm asking that you:

1. Figure out some way to expedite the 90 days to develop plans?! Buildings are developed in less time.

2. SIMULTANEOUSLY talk to multiple prospective contractors (in a transparent and fair way) to find out what type of contract would be attractive to them. Your previous attempts at RFPs were unsuccessful. Show that you learned from that. Find out why no one bid. Was it too little money?

3. Be open with us on how we can advocate for city support to expand the footprint or approve design plans.
Here's what Ms. Meade had to say.

RIOC President Charlene Indelicato responded to Ms. Meade and the other parents who spoke emphasizing that fixing the Tram elevators and replacing the old elevators with new ones is a very high priority and explained in detail what RIOC is doing to accomplish these tasks.

Here's what Ms. Indelicato said tonight.

Will have more video from discussion tonight on the Tram Elevators later.

UPDATE 2/27 - Service on one Tram elevator restored today. More video from the Public Comments Session here.


Mickgirl said...

I agree with these Moms, the elderly, disabled and people like me who are in poor health & cannot climb stairs due to recently medical procedures. This is unacceptable. Health and safety of the public is the responsibility held in the hands of RIOC and our local governance. Seems like the almighty dollar may well come into play when as some have commented: "someone gets really hurt going down/up those stairs". I am sure a lawsuit or two or 10 would get the ball rolling & they'd be fixed in a week!