No Excuse for RIOC's Labor Day Transit Mess

September 22, 2017


To the Editor:


RIOC decided against providing Red Bus shuttle service to Manhattan on Labor Day weekend, when there was no F subway service to Manhattan.


This was a disaster. Everyone traveling to Manhattan had to plan ahead and either pay additional fare on the ferry or ride the local (not express) F subway to Roosevelt Avenue or the Q102 bus to Queens and then travel from there to Manhattan.


While the MTA’s selection of the holiday weekend may not have been anticipated, RIOC could and should have anticipated that the F train would be out of service at some point and provided a back-up transportation plan – even though the MTA said there was no planned repair for the period when the Tram is reduced to one cabin.


This issue was discussed at the July 24 RIOC Operations Advisory Committee meeting. When asked whether there was any planned regular weekend service interruption of the subway during the Tram platform renovation, Shelton Hayes said no, unless there is an emergency. The paper announcement of “Planned Service Changes” and subway service interruption was posted on Thursday before 1:30 p.m. It was NOT an emergency and RIOC had enough time to implement a plan for service on Saturday and Sunday.


Here, in italics, is the response from RIOC to an inquiry by the Roosevelt Islander blog, along with my rebuttal:


“In response to the inquiries requesting additional shuttle bus service during this weekend, please note that these are the factors that RIOC considered:


Insufficient number of available Bus drivers.” RIOC could have budgeted to pay bus drivers and substitute drivers for trips on Saturday and Sunday, but they chose not to do so.


“Ferry service runs every half hour.” The Ferry costs an additional fare and does not go where many riders wish to go, plus it requires a transfer to a bus or subway. Neighbors reported waits of two hours for the ferry, due to high usage by New York City residents and visitors attracted in the first week of ferry operation.


“Shuttle bus analysis indicated low ridership except during weekday rush hours.” Comparing weekday ridership with subway service to a weekend with no subway service is comparing apples to avocados.


“The Q102 runs from Roosevelt Island to Queens Plaza which is a transfer option. F-train from Roosevelt Island station to Roosevelt Ave…[and] transfer to the Manhattan bound F-train.”


One resident reported that her attempt to take the F train to Queens and loop back took nearly an extra half hour just to get to Roosevelt Avenue, due to less frequent weekend service, and who knows how long to get back to bypass Roosevelt Island. 


Another neighbor noted that, during the week, the F train is express to Roosevelt Avenue. However, on Labor Day weekend the F train ran local, so there were seven stops before Roosevelt Avenue. Plus, the Queens-bound elevator at Roosevelt Island was out-of-service for most of the weekend, making it impossible for the disabled to ride the subway.


Another resident took an Uber car, rather than wait over one hour in the long Tram line.


As a representative of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, I’ve asked RIRA to invite Susan Rosenthal, President and CEO of RIOC; Shelton Hayes, Vice President of Operations, and Cy Opperman, Director of Transportation, to attend the October RIRA meeting and describe what RIOC will do the NEXT time the MTA suspends service. I say “the next time,” because it surely will happen again.


RIRA’s Island Services Committee has agreed to prepare questions in anticipation of the meeting. If you wish to share your experience of difficulties in transportation over the Labor Day weekend, or if you have questions for the RIOC leaders, please contact the committee chair, Aaron Hamburger, at 917-817-3320.


Janet Falk


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