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Thursday, January 5, 2017

NYC Council Today Considering Authorization Granting Franchise To Operate Aerial Tram Over East River To Roosevelt Island - What's That About?

Received a tip yesterday that the NYC Council subcommittee on Zoning and Franchising was considering a resolution:
Authorizing the NYC DOT to grant a franchise for the provision of aerial tramway service over the East River between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation.
Yesterday, I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Susan Rosenthal and Roosevelt Island's NYC Council Member Ben Kallos:
The NYC Council is currently considering a resolution regarding the granting of a franchise to operate a Tram over the East River to RIOC ...

... Doesn't the franchise already exist? What is the reason for this resolution?
Received the following response from Council Member Kallos' office:
There is no franchise agreement currently in place. RIOC’s predecessor, the New York State Urban Development Corporation (“UDC”) was originally granted a 10 year franchise agreement in 1974. In 1990, RIOC was granted interim operating authority of the tram and that’s how it’s been ever since.

The Council did pass an authorizing reso in 2001 to make it official with RIOC, but RIOC rejected it over a disagreement over advertising.

This version settles the previous disagreement and allows advertising in the interiors of the cars, but not the exterior.
Have not received response yet from RIOC but will update when received.

The Twitterverse notes today's zoning hearing on Roosevelt Island Tram franchise.
RIOC is currently negotiating an extension of the Roosevelt Island Tram operating and maintenance agreement with Leitner Poma. According to this December 5, 2016 memo from RIOC President Rosenthal to the RIOC Board of Directors:

Among the items on the upcoming January 24 RIOC Operations Advisory Committee meeting is:
Discussion of Tram Operations.
Hopefully, the discussion of Tram operations will include operating both Tram Cabins at the same time to avoid the constant overcrowding when only one cabin is in service.
Many times, there are more tourists on the Tram than Roosevelt Island residents.

UPDATE 6 PM - RIOC President Susan Rosenthal adds:
Yes, a franchise agreement already exists… We have not been involved in the resolution but understand it updates the relationship.

We will be involved in all negotiations of an agreement between the parties.
According to testimony today before the NYC Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises by NYC Department of Transportation Executive Director of Cityscape and Franchises Michell Craven:
 ... the City continues to receive .5% of the Tramway's gross receipts as compensation...

... regarding advertising, RIOC will be permitted to place advertising inside the Tramway cars and stations but not on the exterior of the cars. This will continue the requirements and restrictions currently in place...
Below is Ms. Craven's full testimony.

Can we expect gigantic Pepsi or Coke advertisements at the Manhattan and Roosevelt Island Tram Stations in the future?

UPDATE 1/24 - On January 18, Council Member Kallos reported:
Today, the City Council voted to approve a potential franchise agreement between the City of New York and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). After more than 20 years of operating without an agreement, a proposed franchise has been approved for two 25-year terms, granting the City the authority to negotiate with RIOC to continue operating the unique and iconic aerial tramway from Tramway Plaza on Second Avenue between 60th and 59th Streets over the East River to Roosevelt Island...
More here.