Thursday, February 24, 2011

Roosevelt Island Tram Rider Would Like Immediate Notification Of Service Disruptions - Are You Having Difficulty Obtaining Roosevelt Island Information and Questions Answered From RIOC?

Question & Answer Image From Get Entreprenurial

Have you had difficulty obtaining information and questions answered from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC)? A new Roosevelt Island resident, Erin, has experienced this problem and asks:
How can I get info regarding the status of tram operation?  Twice I have found only one car operating during rush hour.  Had I known this I would have gone straight to the subway as I depend on timely service to arrive at work promptly.  I've emailed an address found on some RIOC site/document at least three times and have not gotten any response.
I replied:
What email address did you use to contact RIOC? I understand there have been problems with RIOC Directors receiving emails to them at

Here is a link to email addresses for RIOC employees. RIOC VP Of Operations Fernando Martinez is responsible for Tram operations.

This may help. When the Tram is out of service for a period of time, RIOC sends an email to those who have signed up for it's Advisories.

The email address to sign up for RIOC's advisories is

RIOC is attempting to improve it's information technology with systems such as Next Bus that show the current status of the Red Bus so perhaps they can do the same thing with the Tram.

I will ask RIOC about this and hopefully we can get them to improve their communications concerning the Tram....
Erin responded:
I think it must have been the "advisories" ( I've tried to subscribe to but get no response to the email to confirm.  I certainly appreciate notices for such long term events but it would seem there should be something in place to get out information needed immediately, including but not limited to tram service delays.  I became a "fan" on facebook hoping this would be a place to post notices, but the only information posted seems to be be feel good articles about the island and RIOC. 

So, does anything exist to give service updates on the tram? 

We're a new family on the island and appreciate the slower pace.  It's certainly making our transition to big city living easier.  And with that slower pace our expectations are not that things operate like a fine tuned machine or that everything be on the cutting edge of technology but we also see a great deal of wasted potential on the island and in island operations...
I have been told that RIOC will soon be implementing and staffing the See Click Fix Roosevelt Island reporting system. See Click Fix will enable residents to inform RIOC about problems and issues on Roosevelt Island and check back online to see if these problems have been fixed.

See Click Fix is a great improvement but that will not help residents like Erin who would like to know in advance when the Tram is not working or operating with reduced capacity.

Is it reasonable to expect immediate notification when Tram service is disrupted? It would be great if that can be done here on Roosevelt Island but subway riders don't get immediate notification from the MTA when there is a delay in F Train service, should Tram riders expect more?

UPDATE 7 PM - RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin provides some answers:
I have been looking into a number of ways to notify residents about service interruptions and handle island issues. I will check if there are any issues with our present email notification system. Text messages, Twitter, Facebook are good instant ways of notifying residents in addition to the notification system we currently have in place, but it only works if RIOC assigns staff to be ready to send out the message. We are currently preparing to deploy our Roosevelt Island 311 SeeClickFix system. We were testing the service and it will be in full force with flyers and information on our website and on the island.  We had a problem with the directors email for a bit, but it is working now and I usually answer them daily. A number of solutions are in the pipeline to handle these issues and notification problems so stay tuned. Any suggestions and ideas are welcome.

Anyone can follow me on Twitter as I update on things RIOC is working on and answer questions frequently on there at or email the board at
UPDATE 2/25 - Mr. Kalkin adds:
 I wanted to add that we will be putting out a RFP for information kiosks or screens at the bus stops/subway station that will give real time information about when the next bus is arriving and subway/elevator and tram service advisories and other information. Will also provide this information on the current tram screens and new ones that may be added. We will also be looking into information screens on the buses themselves so people can get real time information. I have been working on this for some time and had a meeting with some of the members of the Communications Committee at RIRA about it last night. Not everyone has smart phones and even if they do they don't always check them. We have to have many ways to notify residents. This RFP will be on next Operations Committee agenda so stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

The modes of communications are geared to people "on gadgets" (like this writer).
RIOC could reach many more people IF they and PSD could quickly post notices at the bus stops and with doormen in the various buildings.

Anonymous said...

I agree - RIOC should notify Islanders if only 1 car is running in the morning. They are reducing service and riders should be informed so they can plan accordingly. Is it so difficult for RIOC once it knows there's a service disruption to publicize it maybe on the destination signs on red buses (they are sometimes used to advertise fairs/films/concerts).

Anonymous said...

I can look on the MTA site before I leave the house in the morning to see if there is a delay on the F train. That's immediate.

Anonymous said...

The MTA notifications are not immediate enough to prevent a situation like Erin is describing. No matter what technology is being used there will always be a lag and if your getting to work is really that time-sensitive you just have to add a bit more time to your commute, just in case.

That said, I agree that a notification about tram problems should be made known to the bus drivers immediately so they can relay it to the passengers. Some kind of information display at the subway stop would be nice, too, so I can decide if I should go downstairs or should I keep walking to the tram. I am very sure this is going to stay a dream considering that the MTA and the RIOC have to work together on such a thing.

Anonymous said...

The tram already has a digital sign detailing its level of service. All that is required is to feed that data over to an online display.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely - if 1 tram is running the buses could add to their route digital displays something to the effect of "One tram only running - expect tram delays" and a similar message if there are train delays. If people are notified in advance they can adjust how they will get to work accordingly.

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