Friday, February 27, 2015

Roosevelt Island Stroller Moms Express Frustration To RIOC Board Last Night About 2 Week Manhattan Tram Station Elevators Service Outage - Good News, One Elevator Fixed Today

 Image Of Manhattan Tram Station Staircase

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) announced today that service on one of the two broken Manhattan Tram Station elevators is back. According to RIOC:
Notification issued 2/27/2015 at 12:44 PM. Following a previous outage, the Manhattan Tram Station elevator is back in service. The passenger lift remains out of service. An advisory will be issued when service is restored.
Ratso 123 confirmed a Manhattan Tram station elevator is working today:
I took the 12:30 tram from Manhattan. The elevator was just turned on.
During last night's RIOC Board of Directors Public Comments Session, RIOC President Charlene Indelicato reported that the Tram elevator maintenance company would be here today with a new part to, hopefully, restore the elevator service.

Fortunately, the new part worked and one Manhattan Tram Station Elevator is now working.

The RIOC Board of Directors Public Comments Section last night was dominated by members of the Roosevelt Island Parents Network expressing their concerns and frustrations about the Manhattan Tram Station elevators being out of service for the last two weeks.

Roosevelt Island Parents' Network Coordinator and Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Island Services Committee member Eva Bosbach spoke during the Public Comments session saying:

and provided this statement:
Roosevelt Island is such a lovely place for families, seniors and the disabled because getting around is easy and all places are so well accessible. However, it is almost impossible to get to RI without the use of a mobility help like a car or an elevator. It would be very useful to have a footbridge to Manhattan or a pedestrian access to the Queensboro bridge. Or a ramp on the Manhattan side of the Tram, even if it takes years of negotiations with the City to get all permits needed to use the park land, as such ramps have to follow strict requirements and cannot be too steep.

As long as there is no ramp on the other side of the Tram, our goal is to have at least one operating elevator on the Manhattan side at all times when the Tram is running. It is too bad that the elevators did not get replaced during the recent major renovation of the Tram cabins and stations. The elevators keep breaking frequently for the past three winters, often both at the same time. In the past, families and other residents with mobility issues like seniors or the disabled could use the F-Train and the elevator at the 63rd St/Lex Ave Subway station as an alternative. Unfortunately, the F-Train is now not servicing Roosevelt Island on many weekends, and the street level elevator at the 63rd St/Lex Ave Subway station is planned to remain out of service at least until May 31 2015.

On behalf both of the RI Parents Network and the RIRA Island Services Committee, with help of many parents and after many interactions with RIOC and POMA/Leitner, we have been successful in reaching the following sub-goals: The necessity of an entire replacement of the elevators finally got on RIOCs agenda and got approved for the 2014/2015 budget. Last summer, the elevator door was replaced and the red lift repaired, since then both were functioning much better. Signs have been produced to inform residents when one or both units are out of service and are mostly being placed on the RI side of the Tram. And, in case that both the Tram elevator and the red lift simultaneously go out of service, RIOC accepted our suggestion and committed to providing immediate Red bus shuttle service to and from Manhattan until at least one unit is repaired. Thank you, RIOC!

With the recent break-down of both elevators starting Friday February 13 shortly after 9 AM, we appreciated that RIOC provided Red Bus shuttle service on Friday afternoon 4pm - 8pm and starting again on Tuesday for the weekdays. But many residents with mobility issues could not get on and off island easily during the long weekend as there was no Red bus shuttle service on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (and again no service this past weekend), despite RIOC promising that the shuttle would run whenever both units are out of service. Another problem arose on the Manhattan side of the Tram whenever a resident with mobility issues would get off the Tram and would need assistance to get down the stairs. This assistance was not available. There were also problems with the Red bus shuttle itself: it should have run every 30 minutes but parents reported that it was running less frequently, with one frustrated mom waiting with her baby getting cold in the stroller for over 45 minutes. This might have been on the coldest day of the year, with lot of snow accumulated at the shuttle stop area, so that strollers and wheelchairs had to be carried over in order to board the bus. No sign was posted on the Manhattan side at the bus stop location (until today). Another parent reported the bus on the island side did not even stop for her to get on at the Tram stop, which later we learned was due to unclear instructions to the drivers as to what the Red bus shuttle stops should be.

Finally, the repairs of the elevators take very long - both units are still out of service as of today, 11 days (!) later. This is a scandal for a community of well over 10.000 residents. It makes the daily commute for those who rely on elevators very difficult. We understood that there was a new service contract between RIOC and a maintenance company which would make repairs quick and the maintenance company financially responsible for any delays. But the service seems to be worse now, not better. And the replacement of the elevators is now predicted to be completed in 2016 the earliest. We are thankful to RIOCs' Cyril Opperman and Jack McManus for working with us and adjusting the service whenever possible. We sincerely hope that this experience will finally label the overall elevator replacement project as an emergency and allow for an expedited process.
Also speaking were RIPN and RIRA member Susana del Campo Perea

and Kaja Meade.

Roosevelt Island Historical Society President Judy Berdy defended RIOC regarding the repair of the Tram elevator noting the outside pressures being placed upon RIOC by NY State.
... Blaming our current administration does no good. It's a tired story. This thing should have been replaced years ago. Do you think that anyone wants residents inconvenienced? No....

... Do to the less than honest dealing of other State agencies, RIOC is under a microscope. Every action is micromanaged by other agencies. One reason for this is some of our neighbors are constantly complaining about every single action taken on this Island....

Following the Public Comment Session, RIOC President Charlene Indelicato responded to the 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.

More on RIOC's plan to replace the Tram station elevators at this previous post.