Monday, October 25, 2010

Roosevelt Island Tram Return To Sevice Delayed Again, New Estimate Is The End of November 2010 - Maybe The Beatles Can Help?

Roosevelt Island residents have been teased and tantalized over the last several days with both Tram cabins undergoing safety and operational testing as they make their way over the East River to the Manhattan Station and back.

Image of Roosevelt Island Tram Cabins In Manhattan Station From Dave Evans

BUT, when will operational service on the Tram be restored for passengers?

Readers of Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Leslie Torres October 20 report to the community had this to say about the Tram's return of service:
Ms. Torres' comments on the tram seem vague and noncommittal regarding the start date of tram operation; I wouldn't be surprised if "soon" turns into late November or December.
I expect the tram to be back in Jan or Feb next year. Anything sooner would really surprise me.
The last estimate received during the September RIOC Operations Committee Meeting was early November. Unfortunately, the date for the return of Roosevelt Island Tram service has been postponed again - this time to late November. According to RIOC VP of Operations Fernando Martinez:
The South cabin was hoisted on Friday, and we performed an emergency evacuation drill on the North cabin.  OEM, NYPD, FDNY and DOL participated in the exercise.  Commissioning on the South cabin has begun.  By all indications and feedback, everything is going well.  We do not have a firm date for returning the Tram back into service because it is contingent on the final certification by DOL, our best estimate is the 3rd or 4th week of November.
The DOL is the Department of Labor.

POMA, the contractor for the Roosevelt Island Tram Modernization Project issued the following press release today: 
 VOREPPE, France, October 25, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- After nine months' work the French firm POMA is putting the final touches to the installation of a new aerial tramway in New York City, linking Roosevelt Island to Manhattan. The keywords for this unique, resolutely urban amenity are innovation, availability, flexibility and above all safety.
A revolutionary world's first for POMA
With the completion of this ultra-modern aerial tramway POMA brings to New Yorkers the most advanced technology in cable-drawn urban transport. To meet the extremely high standards for passenger transit in a city, each car's cradle runs on an extra-wide track. This novel arrangement ensures the cabins remain exceptionally stable, regardless of the weather conditions. To meet safety requirements and deliver the best possible service, the two cars operate independently. The 960-metre aerial tramway connects Roosevelt Island to Manhattan in three minutes. Each car has room for 110 passengers and the system can sustain a flow of 1,500 riders an hour.
A challenging urban project
This job has been exceptionally challenging for POMA, involving several major constraints, in particular a limited schedule and strict regulations. Furthermore the firm had to allow for existing infrastructure. Nor was there any question of work on the project disturbing the flow of traffic on the roads below, used every day by thousands of city dwellers. POMA has demonstrated here the full range of its project management and coordination skills.
Soon open to the general public
The first cable was fitted on October 5 2010, with the first running tests starting the next day. By October 8 a car was already travelling at 8 metres per second, its final design speed!
In the course of the next few days will be processed a series of tests leading up to final certification of the facility by the Department of Labour. The permit authorizing the tramway to open to the general public is expected to be issued at the beginning of November. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), the owner of aerial tramway, should be able to organize an official opening in the coming weeks....
Below is an interesting documentary about the development of the Portland Aerial Tram. The video does not start until the 30 second mark.

Of the Air, Of the Earth: The Story of the Portland Aerial Tram from NW Documentary on Vimeo.

UPDATE 9:20 PM - A Reader sends in these images of both Tram Cabins being tested.

 Images by D.J. Forza


Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone should contact the NYS Department of Labor - Division of Safety & Health to find out when they plan to come out and inspect the RI tram, and how long the certification will take? The web site is: and the e-mail address is:

Pretty sad that a relatively-simple tram modernization project that was scheduled to take 6 months to complete has now been extended to 9 months (or more)! Thank goodness the towers didn't need to be replaced!

Anonymous said...

Since everybody keeps claiming that things are running fine I wonder why they kept shortchanging themselves continuously all the time when it came to setting completion date. We all knew that six month was impossible. But still POMA and RIOC claimed it would be done. They should have said six months construction plus an extra few weeks for licensing and other unexpected delays. Why saying "it will be done by the beginning of September" instead of "we expect it to be done sometime between September and January".

Anonymous said...

Restoring Tramway service has to be about SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY.

We cannot afford to resume service too soon -- those cabins, those cables, the stability and strength of the towers, the electrical system and its backup, better staff training and readiness for every contingency -- I can wait a little longer.

It does seem a little ironic that everything hinges (sorry, no pun intended) on the NYS Department of Labor -- and no other state agency charged with rider and employee safety...

This is not some amusement park ride or other curiousity -- it is for many of us our primary form of commuting to and from Manhattan, and the entire operation, including making the stations accessible and safe is the priority.

Anonymous said...

Remember POMA incures monetary damages every day they are delayed from the September 5th date. It's on them to get it done quickly, but as the poster above remarked - IT HAS TO BE SAFE!

Anonymous said...

I believe POMA's remark that the tram can handle 1500 passengers an hour would seem to be both ways not one way and therefore at the same time correct and misleading.


$15 thousand in liquidated damages are incurred by POMA every day the Tram is out of service from the early September date that the Tram was originally scheduled to be ready for service. That was stated during the October RIOC Board of Directors meeting.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if POMA would be on the hook for the $15K per day mentioned above if the delay is caused by waiting for the NYS Department of Labor (or any other agency) to inspect & certify the tram for passenger operation. For all we know, POMA considers the project "complete" as soon as both tram cabins are installed, running and tested according to the technical specifications agreed to in the contract.

It would be interesting to ask RIOC this question.

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