Friday, March 18, 2011

Stanford University Will Be Right At Home On Roosevelt Island - We're Already A Hotbed Of Technological Innovation Says RIOC Director Jonathan Kalkin

I've said this before about Roosevelt Island but it is worth repeating today with the announcement by Stanford University of it's proposed plan to build a state of the art engineering and applied research school at the Coler Goldwater Hospital site:
 Roosevelt Island receives much grief from many of our fellow New York City residents for being strange, insular, creepy, spooky, stuck in the past etc - and some of that is true. But there is another side to Roosevelt Island which is at the forefront of urban planning and the use of new and exciting technology for the betterment of those who live, work and visit here...
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Director Jonathan Kalkin shares a dizzying amount of information on exciting, new and innovative Roosevelt Island technology projects in various stages of development as well as some plain, old fashioned managerial changes that will help to improve life here on Roosevelt Island. From Mr. Kalkin:
I am very excited at the prospect of a world class university like Stanford on Roosevelt Island. RIOC staff and I have been working closely with the City Hall and NYCEDC sharing information about the Island and sending out materials about the many high tech projects we are moving forward. We have had discussions or  meetings companies like GE, Streetline Inc, SeeClickFix, Zipcar, Google, IBM, Verizon, Solar Sailor, Verdant Power and more. IBM Brazil liked some of our ideas so much you may see them adopted for the next Olympics.  I have been attending several events throughout the city meeting with leaders of government and NYC startups to brainstorm about how we can make Roosevelt Island an even better place to live.

Roosevelt Island has been working on several innovative initiatives from Free Fiber WiFi internet in our parks, bike sharing, 311 SeeClick Fix Issue Crowdsourcing, Fuel Cell, Solar and Tidal Energy, LED lighting for Motorgate/Streetlights/Tram Stations, Electric Car Charging Stations, Streetline Smart Parking meters and sensors,  Nextbus Real Time Bus Arrival Information, and in development are projects like QR Code initiatives, location based advertising, mobile payments, High Tech Security Cameras, Cloud Computing, Green Hybrid/Solar Ferries,  Google GIS Maps and Transit, Bus Station and Tram Station Information Screen Kiosks and more.

The feedback so far has been amazing. Universities love Roosevelt Island and once they know all the initiatives here or in development, they are very excited. In the coming weeks I will be putting up questions to survey ideas about how we can fix many issues on the island because some of the best ideas come from our brilliant residents. We still have a long way to go and I have been reading your comments closely on the blog, posted on SeeClickFix, and emailed to

One exciting development is we will be designing a new Department of Transportation on the island. We have finalized a search for the new position of Director of Transportation as well. This restructuring will make sure that we find a schedule that works for the residents of this island and that we make sure that the buses stick to it. This department will coordinate all forms of transportation on this Island including a possible ferry system - the Operations Committee recently approved to study the Oil Dock for ferry service. Motorgate is on its way to being renovated and managed in the way residents deserve. We have had strategic meetings and planning to renovate Motorgate and make it state of the art. This includes finally doing something about escalators, elevators, lighting, security, and management. This Director of Transportation will also oversee Motorgate and parking policy and strategy on the Island. We will be introducing the community to this department and new management very soon. The people interested in these positions have had impressive backgrounds and experience and I think everyone will be very pleased.

In the spirit of efficiency we have combined or not renewed certain positions at RIOC, so we did not hire more employees than we had before to create this department because bigger government is not always smarter government. We want your voices to be heard, because you are customers of the island services. We have been working with RIRA on a bus schedule, but we want to cast a wide net to get the best ideas. RIRA has done a great job of getting feedback on the transportation issues and I will be posting several questions in an online forum soon so we can get everyones feedback. We will be reviewing all of this information at our next few Operations meetings. We are open to all suggestions. Please email me at or follow me on
to suggest ideas or discuss issues. I am aware we have a long way to go to achieve our goals and we need your insight.  I look forward to hearing from all of you.
One thing that we have to be careful about in our excitement over this proposal is that if such a project gets built, it does not become a separate, gated enclave apart from the rest of Roosevelt Island.

More information on Roosevelt Island technology projects available from previous posts.

Roosevelt Island Red Bus Route and Scheduling Questions Raised - RIRA Planning Committee Chair Farance Has Some Answers

 Image Of Octagon Express and Local Red Bus Bunching During Morning Rush Hours

An update to this post on concerns by some Roosevelt Island residents on the Red Bus route and schedule. Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Planning Committee Chairperson Frank Farance commented on that thread with the following remarks. From Mr. Farance:
Just a handful of responses.

First, RIOC has been a poor listener on the red bus issues. Anonymous says "RIOC, It's not rocket science. It's a bus, one street, and passengers. It's not like were running a whole city.". This is SOOO TRUE. The residents (including RIRA reps Matt Katz, Aaron Hamburger, and myself) have explained many many times how to avoid these problems, but RIOC keeps getting it wrong. I'm not sure if it is Mr. Martinez or RIOC board members on the Operations Committee that is the cause.

RIRA has explained that the 20-minute schedule was the better choice because we wouldn't have the schedule variability that we have now ... it's not just rush hour, there are problems with non rush hour, too. We've known for many years that this 15-minute schedule is impossible because it implies a 30-minute loop, which the drivers cannot complete regularly.

RIRA did *not* ask for the stop at the kiosk, RIRA wants the bus stop at the tram. It was Mr. Martinez who said that we need a stop at the kiosk because Southpoint Park will be built (in several years) and at time there will be a new route for the southern end. Sure, that makes no sense for today (and probably won't when the park is completed).

Given the available choices, RIRA preferred the west service road to be two-way for buses only (bus pickup/dropoff at subway station), which would allow red buses to line up on the east-west transverse road next to the tram. And this would allow for parking on both sides of Main Street in Southtown, it would be more convenient for Southtown residents (there aren't building entrances on the west side, so you're stuck walking around the block), and would have spent approximately $2000 (repaint yellow line and a couple street signs) rather than the $100K+ for the high-tech parking system (that really doesn't save any fuel). Are we the only New York State agency brimming with cash and money to blow on a $100K+ parking system?

I point these out because several related decisions continue to further box RIOC into even worse decisions.

Second, in response to Trevre, although it is counter-intuitive, running the red bus continuously provably produces poorer service (try a running a queuing model) because the result is that the buses will always bunch together and service will be less predictable. Years ago, RIOC President Steve Shane believed continuous buses made for better service, but both model simulation and real-world data proved him wrong. Thus, red buses need to wait a few minutes at the start of their route, just like subways and MTA buses.

Third, the Octagon Express bus doesn't make "local" stops, just like subways/MTA-buses don't make local stops, even if they aren't full. The Octagon Express bus has its own schedule and staffing load (cost) and changing the route would affect them.

Fourth, the problems with pick up and drop off at the tram and the subway are a combination of bad overall planning (present west service road routing) and bad direction by RIOC managers (Martinez, bus managers) and not necessarily the drivers fault.

Fifth, there are some problems with the drivers, but these are much easier to fix. Overall, the drivers are *not* the cause of the present schedule problems.

Sixth, having the Octagon Local and Octagon Express take off at the same time makes no sense from a scheduling and queuing perspective. The drivers could help by making sure the side LED sign says "Octagon Local" or "Octagon Express".

Matt, Aaron, and I will be meeting with RIOC staff next week. Will keep you posted.
 Mr. Farance later responded to several subsequent comments from other readers:
A couple more responses ...

Treve wants to see why continuous buses is less optimal. Here's a simple demo. Draw a circle with two dots: one at 12 o'clock and the other at 6 o'clock -- these are the two stops on a counterclockwise bus route. Start with a bus at each stop and start the buses running. When they reach the next stop, assume that the same number of passengers arrive at each stop to board the bus. The two buses would stay synchronized and the same distance apart. Because the two buses are equal distance apart, they are each picking up 50% of the passengers.

Now, give the first bus at 12 o'clock passengers more than the second bus at the 6 o'clock stop. The first bus (at 12 o'clock) has a longer wait because more passengers are boarding, meanwhile the second bus (at 6 o'clock) has already departed. The second bus continues, but picks up less of than 50% of the passengers (because it is closer behind the first bus) meanwhile the first bus picks up more than 50% of the passengers the next time around, which causes a snowballing effect: eventually the first bus picks up all the passengers while the second bus trails behind picking up no passengers.

When buses trail like this, the average passenger waiting to goes up to double the time and the bus utilization goes to 50% (the second bus becomes a wasted effort). When there are more buses in the route, average waiting time can triple or quadruple.

Because Roosevelt Island has uneven passengers in its route (more southbound passengers in the morning, more northbound passengers in the evening), this kind of *twice-daily imbalance* creates the bus-bunching and schedule variability on continuously running buses.

Both bus bunching and longer waits were observed directly and daily when the red buses ran continuously.

By establishing route synchronization points (a waiting period at start and end), the buses serve the residents more consistently and more regularly.

Anonymous 7:37 said "The bus is only $.25 cents and I'm told RIOC loses money on this venture...". Mass transit systems are not profitable merely by user fees. For example, the subways, railroads, etc. get some of their money from user fees, some of their money from a regional tax (whether you use the system or not), and other sources. The 25-cent fare is a nominal fare, with the remaining costs paid for by building ground leases (i.e., our rents/maintenance). Probably, a better solution would be a free bus rather than a more expensive bus. With a free bus, passengers could enter through both doors and decrease loading time (as they did years ago when the red bus was free).

For Anonymous 9:23, raising the bus fare doesn't necessarily help. For example, a $1 fare might decrease riders and might make the buses even LESS profitable. Less riders, means less flow of people between buildings, which diminishes the value of the buildings because there is less cohesiveness among building complexes, which translates into lower rents/etc., which has a serious impact on Island finances.

For Anonymous 3:25, Metrocards are not practical for the red bus because of the transaction fees and the installation/operations cost.

For Anonymous 8:26, running larger buses makes more sense than smaller buses. Each bus has a capacity of 60 people, so with 5 buses in rush hour (1 Octagon Express, 2 Octagon Local, 2 Firehouse Local) that's 600 people per hour or 1,800 people during the morning rush hours. With the Island population of about 14,000, 1,800 is about 13% of the population. I'm sure more than 13% of the residents are commuters, so decreasing bus capacity would affect commuters.

Also, larger buses are more efficient than smaller buses for this kind of operation. Staffing is a major operating cost, so more smaller buses makes for large staffing costs, i.e., smaller buses carry the same load but do it less efficiently with more cost.

Will the Next Facebook, Google and Apple Be Incubated On Roosevelt Island? Stanford University Submits Proposal To Establish New York City Innovation Hub With New Engineering School At Coler Goldwater Campus

 Image From Carve Your Destiny

A post from last month speculated, dreamed and almost drooled over the possibility of Roosevelt Island's Coler Goldwater Hospital campus, adjacent to the Tram, being selected as the new home for a high-tech, state of the art applied science and engineering University that Mayor Bloomberg is seeking to attract for New York City.
Will Roosevelt Island follow in the footsteps of San Francisco's Bay area Silicon Valley to become New York City's Silicon Island? How about the next Sergey Brin and Larry Page starting the new Google from right here on Roosevelt Island? Is that possible? Well, hold on to your hats because it may very well happen sometime in the not too distant future.

As reported in earlier post, the Roosevelt Island Coler Goldwater Hospital site is being considered as one of the 4 possible sites for a world class applied sciences academic research facility to be located in New York City according to a plan put forth by Mayor Bloomberg....
That possibility took one step closer to reality yesterday when 27 universities from all over the world submitted proposals to be considered by NYC as the home for such a research center including Stanford University whose proposal specifies Roosevelt Island as the site for their campus. WOW WOW WOW!!!!!

This Stanford University press release has more details:
Stanford University this week formally submitted a tentative proposal to the city of New York to build a campus for applied science research and graduate education on Roosevelt Island, with the intent that the campus would serve as a hub for innovation and economic growth.

The Stanford proposal, submitted in response to a New York City request for expressions of interest, outlines a high-technology campus that could be constructed in phases over 25 years to provide graduate degree-granting programs for students in engineering, computer science and business.

"Whether there will be another hub of innovation in the world is not in doubt. The only question is where it will evolve," the Stanford document states. "Silicon Valley is unique, and replicating its success will be a challenge. But we believe it can be done. Stanford University has the expertise and the track record, and New York City is the place to apply them."

Under an aggressive timeline, the university proposes starting construction on the first phase in 2013 and enrolling 440 master's and PhD students by the fall of 2015. Over time, Stanford envisions the possibility of as many 2,200 graduate students and 100 faculty members at a New York City location.

"Stanford seeks to leverage its entrepreneurial culture, its experience in attracting great minds and its partnerships with industry to build an applied research and high technology center in New York City – a city whose ambitions for the future are aligned with those of the university," the proposal states. "Stanford envisions a strategic partnership that will blend the strengths of a great research university with those of a great center of commerce and creativity – and generate significant and sustainable economic development."

Stanford was joined by 26 other institutions in submitting expressions of interest Wednesday to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Others who submitted proposals include Cornell, Columbia, Purdue and the University of Chicago. The city is expected to issue a formal request for proposals by this summer.

Stanford President John Hennessy will discuss Stanford's proposal at his annual address to the Academic Council on April 14. He will be joined in conversation by Jim Plummer, dean of the School of Engineering; Jennifer Widom, chair of the Department of Computer Science; and Robert Reidy, vice president for land, buildings and real estate. The address will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the NVIDIA Auditorium of the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center.

The proposed Stanford New York campus would draw from various schools, centers and programs, including the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. The proposal also relies upon very close integration with the California campus, and the use of distance education and telepresence systems to connect students, faculty and researchers at the two locations.

Of four possible locations put forth by the city of New York, Stanford has used the Roosevelt Island site as a model for its proposal. The land is located in the middle of the East River between Manhattan and Queens. Facilities to be constructed on the site would include academic and research space, as well as housing for students and faculty members. Funds for capital costs would be expected to come from a combination of philanthropy, New York City and Stanford University.
More from earlier posts, the SF Gate and  NY Times.

UPDATE 12 PM - According to Mayor Bloomberg's Press Release:

... The institutions that submitted responses are:
  • Åbo Akadmi University, Finland
  • Amity University, India
  • Carnegie Mellon University with Steiner Studios
  • Cornell University
  • Columbia University and the City University of New York
  • The Cooper Union
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
  • Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Korea
  • New York University, Carnegie Mellon, the City University of New York, the University of Toronto, and IBM
  • The New York Genome Center, with Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York University, Rockefeller University, and the Jackson Laboratory
  • Purdue University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Stanford University
  • The Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
  • The University of Chicago
  • The University of Warwick, United Kingdom
“We want New York City to grow as the 21st Century capital of innovation, and helping develop a new or expanded applied sciences and engineering school may be one of the most impactful things we can do to ensure that happens,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “Many of the world’s leading tech companies grew out of top applied science programs, and we want the next generation of companies and jobs to start up here in New York. We recognize it’s an enormous undertaking and we have a lot of work ahead of us. But the commitment of support from many of New York City’s philanthropic, civic, political and business leaders, combined with this unmistakable response from the academic community, further solidify our confidence in the venture.”

“We believe science and technology to be critical to the future of the global economy. The universities that responded, including our local institutions, are among the world leaders in these fields, having done ground-breaking research, spun off pioneering companies and created hundreds of thousands of jobs, not just for high-tech engineers but for all skill and income levels,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “The number and quality of these responses constitute an enormous vote of confidence in this important initiative and represent the first page of what we believe will ultimately become a new chapter in our City's economy.”

The responses contained proposals for hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment and significant increases to the number of applied sciences and engineering graduate students to be based in New York City. They included a variety of ideas about what types of science might be studied at the new campus, ranging from environmental sciences to neuroengineering. Many of the proposals included wet or dry labs as well as space for teaching, housing, and recreation....
UPDATE 1:45 - An illustration of the proposed final phase of the campus on Roosevelt Island.

UPDATE 3:30 PM - More here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fantastic Irish Dancing Flash Mob For St Patrick's Day From Australia - Have Fun, Celebrate The Day But Watch Out For That Old Black Rum

Here's a St. Patrick's Day treat from down under in Australia. An Irish Dance Flash Mob celebration of St. Patrick's Day at the Sydney Rail Station. According to the Riverdance blog:
Over 100 dancers spread St Patrick’s Day cheer in Sydney as Irish Dancing erupted in spectacular Central Station Sydney. Dancers included members of Riverdance and school children.

Organised and co ordinated by Jason Oremus, Chris Naish and the Sneaky Steppers crew.

You Tube Video Of Australian St Patrick's Day Irish Dance Flash Mob

Roosevelt Island had it's own flash mob event a couple of years ago with the MP3 experiment - remember that?

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all the Irish and those who want to be today, but, as Great Big Sea warns, be careful of That Old Black Rum.

You Tube Video Of Great Big Sea's Old Black Rum

Great Big Sea is a Canadian Band from Newfoundland and one of my favorites. Hope to see the boys back in New York City soon.

American Flag Flying Over Roosevelt Island's Firefighter's Field Torn and Ripped - Let's Get This Repaired Quick - the Roosevelt Island Tram Countdown Clock Too

 Image of Torn American Flag Flying Over Roosevelt Island's Firefighter's Field

A report was made to See Click Fix last Tuesday that the American Flag flying over Roosevelt Island's Firefighter's Field is torn and ripped.
The corner of the US flag next to the tram roundabout got caught in the rope and the flag started to tear apart. That should be easy to fix.
 Image of Torn American Flag Flying Over Roosevelt Island's Firefighter's Field

On Wednesday, another report was made to See Click Fix asking that the countdown time display clock

 at the Tram Stations be fixed:
 The time display at the tram station is not working properly. It always say "Next tram: 6 minutes", no matter how long you wait.

Then, when the tram actually starts moving, it jumps from 6 to 4 minutes, and only then it starts to work properly. But at that point, I already know the tram is coming, so no need for a display.

RIOC should fix it to always show the right time for the next tram. It shouldn't be too difficult, given they have a schedule.
So, as soon as the Tram leaves a station, the countdown clock starts at 6 minutes even if the next Tram is not due to leave the same station for another 15 minutes. The clock stays at 6 minutes until the tram leaves the opposite station when the clock begins the countdown at 4 minutes. That's not very useful.

Let's get the Flag repaired now, the Tram countdown clock soon thereafter and not continue to wait for months as have some other Roosevelt Island issues listed on See Click Fix before being addressed such as the graffiti on this Rivercross Lawn tree.

More on Roosevelt Island See Click Fix and how to report issues from earlier post.

UPDATE - 3/20 - See Click Fix reports that the damage flag at Firefighter's Field has been replaced.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

11:40 PM Commuter's Tram Trip Back To Roosevelt Island - Tram Cabin Lights On Return To Manhattan Look Very Cool

It's late on a Wednesday night. Roosevelt Island 360 shares the 11:40 PM commuter's view of the Roosevelt Island Tram Cabin and bustmaster1428 watches the nighttime Tram return to Manhattan on another evening.

Have a good night Roosevelt Islanders.

Roosevelt Island Motorgate Garage Elevator Out Of Service - When Will It Be Repaired

Image Of Out of Service Motorgate Elevator

A reader sends in the following message inquiring when a Roosevelt Island Motorgate Garage elevator will be fixed.
Could you please find out why an elevator in Motorgate has been out of order for over two weeks and still has a "temporary out of service" sign on it? 
On Monday, I asked Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) VP of Operations Fernando Martinez when the Motorgate elevator will be fixed. Have not received a response yet.

The adjacent elevator is working.

UPDATE 7 PM - Mr. Martinez reports that the elevator repair contractor is awaiting a piece of equipment and the elevator should be back in operation in a week or two.

Stamp Out Public Corruption In New York State - Roosevelt Island Assembly Member Micah Kellner Proposes Public Corruption Prevention and Enforcement Act To Start

Image Of Corrupt Politician From About Career Planning

Roosevelt Island's Assembly Member Micah Kellner published an op-ed in the March 13 NY Post on political corruption in New York State politics. An excerpt:
It's Groundhog Day in Albany. Yet again, we see state lawmakers hauled before a court on corruption charges; yet again, we hear talk of ethics reform -- and yet again, it's far from clear the Legislature is prepared to do anything about it.

Sen. Carl Kruger and Assembly Member William Boyland stand accused of taking bribes from special interests, in return for special favors. These allegations are just the latest wave in a seemingly endless tide of graft and corruption, reinforcing the perception that all lawmakers are crooks or clowns.

And until we finally step up and pass real, comprehensive ethics reform, we'll deserve every ounce of the public's scorn...
Mr. Kellner elaborates on stamping out political corruption in New York State:
As a legislator, it truly saddens me that every time Albany is in the news it’s because of yet another corruption scandal—and I can only imagine how it makes everyday New Yorkers feel. It seem there is a never-ending tide of graft and corruption, which reinforces the perception that all lawmakers are crooks or clowns.

As a member of the state Assembly, I know that isn’t really the case. The vast majority of my colleagues work tirelessly—and honestly—on behalf of the people of New York. But until we finally step up and pass real, comprehensive ethics reform, we’ll deserve every ounce of the public’s scorn.

The only way to stop corruption is through tough and thorough reform legislation. This is why I introduced the Public Corruption Prevention and Enforcement Act (PCPEA), the most comprehensive anti-corruption bill in state history. This important reform legislation will clean up Albany by closing the ethical loopholes that some politicians have become adept at exploiting.

The bill:

Enacts a Duty of Faithful Public Service: Incredibly, there’s no such duty on the books today. The Joe Bruno scandal showed what a glaring hole this is. If we want to eliminate the culture of corruption, we need a law that makes clear that public officials must serve the public first and foremost.

Punishes Corrupt Schemes to Defraud the Government: Currently, the law only punishes schemes to defraud government agencies of property, services, or resources. The PCPEA expands the crime of defrauding the government to punish any and all corrupt schemes involving public servants and others who seek to corrupt the operation of government in any way.

Reforms Criminal Bribery Statutes: The bill takes action to ensure that bribery of a public official is punished just as seriously as completed bribes, and it makes sure that public bribery is treated in the same way as bribery in the private sector.

Reforms the Member Item Process: The bill creates new standards and prohibitions for community projects grants, which are commonly known as “member items.” Among other protections, it stops lawmakers from funneling taxpayer money into shady nonprofits that don’t even provide real services, but in which they or their relatives have a financial interest.

Enhances Financial Disclosure for State Officials: As it stands, the clients that legislators represent in private practice are hidden from public view. While this makes sense in a few instances — such as when the clients are involved in family court cases, where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy — there’s no reason why most of lawmakers’ private clients shouldn’t be disclosed, just as they are in other states. This bill will allow the public to monitor the sources and values of outside income earned by our elected officials.

Strengthens Campaign Finance Rules: Up until n ow candidates have legally been allowed to get away with disguising loans intended for campaign use as personal gifts—allowing them to circumvent campaign contribution limits. This bill closes that loophole.

Ultimately, I believe that we should ask why our system encourages lawmakers to have outside income at all. We should make representing New Yorkers a full-time job. Then there will no longer even be a perception of any conflict of interest with our official duties as legislators.

Today, I published an op-ed in the New York Post about the importance of passing comprehensive ethics reform now. You can read the op-ed here.

If we enact these reforms, instead of being synonymous with scandal, it is my hope that Albany will once again be recognized as an incubator of progressive innovation.
Good start by Mr. Kellner.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Roosevelt Island Red Bus Problems At The Octagon, Waiting Time and Express/Local Bus Bunching - At Least Red Bus Door Not Slammed In Their Face Before Boarding

Octagon resident and Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Common Council Representative Max Long is concerned about the amount of time the Red Bus seems to wait at various stops. Mr. Long writes:

I'm concerned about the wait time for red buses that have already "arrived" at various bus stops on the island. The buses seem to sit idly very often, frequently waiting for several minutes before moving again. I've heard that these bus delays have reached up to 10 minutes on several occasions. This seriously impacts the flow of the bus schedule when one considers the relatively short amount of time if actually takes to circle the island. I've spoken with several residents in my building - and in other buildings on the island - who share this opinion.
Octagon residents have also expressed dissatisfaction with the bunching up of the Octagon Local and Express (Octagon Express operates only during weekdays from 7 AM - 10 AM) at the Octagon stop during the morning rush hours. Octagon morning rush hour commuters often experience seeing two buses at their stop, board one, and then discover they are on the local bus as the Express Bus takes off first leaving them sitting behind on the local bus. Other times, the Local Bus is at the Octagon Stop first, residents board it and then the Express Bus arrives and leaves while Octagoners are still on the Local.

A reader sent in this photo taken at 8:55 AM one weekday morning of two Red Buses waiting at the Octagon Stop.

The Bus in front is the local and behind is the Express.

Some have suggested moving the Octagon Express departure time a few minutes ahead of the Octagon Local so as to avoid the confusion of the two buses bunching up.

Regarding the Red Bus waiting time, my understanding is that it occurs at the Octagon and the Tram/Visitors Kiosk stop which are arrival/destination stops on the Red Bus Route and are required in order to maintain the fixed schedule established by RIOC (approximately 15 minutes per route).

For those residents in Manhattan Park and Northtown who become frustrated when seeing the Octagon Express Bus pass them by as you are waiting for a bus, remember that the Octagon Express Bus service is paid for separately by the Octagon owner as an amenity to it's residents and would not be in operation otherwise.

I was told by a reader who witnessed this, that the Octagon Express did make a stop by the Good Shepherd during last Friday's rush hour.

As the bus doors opened up, Public Safety Department Deputy Director Bryan exited the front door and then the doors quickly closed before the waiting passengers could board. The Octagon Express then took off to complete it's route leaving the passengers at the Good Shepherd stop waiting for the next bus.

UPDATE 3/ 18 -  Added a separate post with comments by RIRA Planning Committee Chairperson Frank Farance's responding to this post and reader's comments. Please click over to add any thoughts or comments you may have on subject and don't add any comments to this thread.

Monday, March 14, 2011

No Escaping Roosevelt Island Tree Branch For This Kite

Came home tonight to see this kite stuck in a tree branch next to Firefighter's field.

Hope it is able to resume it's journey soon

Roosevelt Island Wild Garden's Green Room Park At Southpoint Park Opening Delayed From Spring Until Mid July

Commenting on Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) President Leslie Torres Report to the community last Friday, an observant reader notes:
In the 2/25/2011 report, Ms. Torres clearly states "We will manage to make final investments and open up Southpoint Park in the spring". Two weeks later (in the 3/11/2011 report), she casually slips in the phrase "slated for opening in mid-summer" in reference to Southpoint Park. It would have been appropriate for Ms. Torres to explain the delay, not just simply restate a new projected time frame. Delays are understandable; not keeping RI residents adequately informed is a disservice to the community.
I noticed that too and asked RIOC Vice President for Operations Fernando Martinez:
Can you advise why that portion of the park's opening has been pushed back from the spring, as planned earlier. to mid summer.
Mr. Martinez replied:
We recently had a kick-off meeting regarding the Wild Garden's/ Green Room project at South Point Park.  The contractor presented an updated scope and associated schedule for the remaining work.  The projected date of completion is mid-July.  However, if the contractor finishes the work earlier than expected, then we will open the park sooner.
The 3/10 - 3/11 daily Public Safety Report also mentioned an incident at Southpoint Park.
Investigation- Unauthorized workers denied access to Four Freedoms Park.
Mr. Martinez explains what happened:
On occasion, individuals try to gain access to the job sites in order to speak to the foreman or contractor.  The individuals are looking for work.  Since the individuals are not authorized by the foreman or contractor, they are denied access.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roosevelt Island Historical Society Wins Restoration Award By Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District For Visitors Center Kiosk

Congratulations to the Roosevelt Island Historical Society (RIHS) and it's President, Judy Berdy. The Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District are presenting the RIHS with a Restoration Award for the Roosevelt Island Visitors Center Kiosk located adjacent to the Roosevelt Island Tram Station. More on the renovation and history of the Visitors Center Kiosk here and from earlier posts.

From the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District:
Join FRIENDS for our 28th Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony!

2011 Annual Awards

Tuesday, March 15th

6:00 p.m., Reception to follow
New York School of Interior Design ~ 170 East 70th Street

  • Renaissance Award
    Central Park Conservancy: Ancient Playground & the Osborn Gates
  • Archi-teacher Award
    Jane Cowan
  • Sustainability Award
    Regis High School: Green Roof
  • Advocacy Award
    Council Member Dan Garodnick
  • Restoration Award
    Roosevelt Island Historical Society: Roosevelt Island Visitor Center Kiosk
  • Technology Award
    Museum of the City of New York: Collections Portal
RSVP 212.535.2526 or
Below is the Queensboro Bridge Kiosk which is now the Roosevelt Island Visitors Center Kiosk.

  Image From RIHS President Judy Berdy ( Queensboro Bridge Kiosk Now Roosevelt Island Visitors Center)

Pictures of the RIHS Visitors Center Kiosk renovation process are here.