Thursday, July 31, 2008

No Parking Spots? Blame Zip Car Event

This morning while walking on my way to the Tram I noticed that Zip Car had taken up three to four spots on Main Street down by Southtown. I am assuming this is just for temporary promotion purposes. For RIOC and PSD to agree to give up these spots when parking is already tight on this island would make no sense.

According to Keith Guerra, Director of Public Safety, the spots used by Zip Car have not been permanently assigned to them. So for now SouthTowners excited about the possibility of vehicles being available nearby will continue to need to go up to the Octagon to rent these vehicles.

Update: Status of Former "Castle" Playground Site

castle structure

The following response was received in regard to my recent inquiry about the former Roosevelt Island playground:

Date: Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 11:17 AM
Subject: Former "Castle" Playground


For the past 8 months or so RIOC was working with Island Kids and KaBoom on developing a new playground for the site. KaBoom is anational non-profit organization whose mission is to identify potential playground sites and marry localities with corporate sponsors for the construction of playgrounds. The Blackwell Playground was selected as asite.

The site was prepped for a new playground by RIOC maintenance and grounds staff, and the installation for a new playground was scheduled for early June. However, at the eleventh hour the corporate sponsor backed out. We do not know who the sponsor was or their reason for backing out. KaBoom has made attempts to identify a new corporate sponsor, but RIOC has decided to proceed with the installation of a new playground without the assistance of any third party sponsorship.

A retaining wall was recently installed, and we hope to start work on a new playground by early Fall 2008.

Fernando Martinez
Vice President for Operations
Roosevelt Island Operating Corp.


Prior to the old "Castle" playground a wooden playground configuration sat at the same site:

Old Wood Playground

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Roosevelt Island Subway Sta. Bathroom?

According to a story in today's New York Post, July 30, 2008, the bathroom at the Roosevelt Island subway Station was found not only to be open but fully stocked with toilet paper. Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind conducted a study of 18 restrooms in three boroughs and found 10 were locked and four of the open restrooms lacked toilet paper. The Roosevelt Island loo was only one of two found to be open and stocked.

Fantastic. Great news! Yay for us!

The only question I have is where is this bathroom? Granted I have been on this island less than three years but I have never heard of such a bathroom and believe me with two young kids it would have been good info to have. No wonder it's fully stocked us parents with kids have not found it.

Just to be sure I am going to contact the Post reporter and the Assemblymember's office. I have a feeling they meant Roosevelt Avenue in Queens.

UPDATE 6:00 pm

According to a legislative aid working at the Assemblymember's office the Roosevelt Island station bathroom was inspected by a representative from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office and the information was passed along to the Assemlymember.

According to the token clerk on duty this evening the "Station Toilet" pictured below is not available to the public and no pubic facility exists at this station so it is unclear why Scott Stringer's office reported that a restroom was available at this station.

Mystery Photo: Which Playground?

Flickr - Catherine Grieco

Can you tell what playground on Roosevelt Island this photo was taken in? The photo is by Catherine Grieco and be can be found on Flickr HERE.

Hint: Per Ms. Grieco, the photographer, the photo was taken in the mid 1990's.

Roosevelt Island Tram Crosses East River Twice in 12 Seconds

Watch the video and you will see that over the 12 seconds each tram crosses the East River twice.

I found this time lapse video shot from the Manhattan Roosevelt Island Tram station facing the Queensboro Bridge.

I am not allowed to show the video here but you can link over to the Getty Images Library video HERE.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Straphangers Report: F Train 13th out of 21

According to a report issued today the F Train which services Queens, Manhattan (including Roosevelt Island) and Brooklyn ranked 13th out of 21 total subway lines. Link HERE to see the report. For the overall State of the Subways Report link HERE.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Links: FIOS, Performance Art, and Dutch Schultz

The most recent local RIOC PSD Police Report is available on the Roosevelt Islander and has something about dogs sending threatening email?

According to a PR Newswire press release Verizon is again listing neighborhoods where their FIOS service is available including RI.

Gothamist reports that Celia Rowlson-Hall, a writer-director-choreographer would love to perform at the Renwick Ruin, the former smallpox hospital if it were available.

Among a listing of top ten criminals is Dutch Schultz who at one time did time at the former Blackwells Island Penitentiary.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Island Kids Film Miley Cyrus Parody

The girls over at Island Kids must have been standing outside Rockefeller Center too long this morning watching Miley Cyrus such that upon their return to Roosevelt Island they filmed the above spoof. Cute.

Passings: Resident Richard C. Wade

Today's New York Times, July 25, 2008, includes an obituary for Roosevelt Island resident Richard C. Wade who passed away last Friday. Mr. Wade lived in the Rivercross building and is survived by his wife Liane Thomas Wade.

From the Times:
"Richard C. Wade, who helped put cities on the map as an academic subject and who advised Democratic candidates including Adlai Stevenson, Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern, died last Friday at his home on Roosevelt Island in New York City. He was 87."
I will not try to recap the man's life here on this blog but his career included being a well respected historian that opened up the field of studying cities as a source of growth in this country. Two books he wrote or co-authored include Urban Frontier, and Slavery in the Cities. He was also involved in politics but was mostly known and respected for his work as a historian.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Crains: RI Bridge Construction Equal to New Yankee Stadium

Like many New Yorkers, Roosevelt Island residents would love to think of ourselves as the center of the universe but we know different.

However in a Crain's New York article, posted this afternoon on-line, regarding the appointment of Skanska as MSG's rehabilitation construction manager Skanska's work on the Roosevelt Island Bridge was labelled a "major" New York project right there along the building of new Yankee Stadium.

Amusing. Who are we to argue?

Jazzmobile on Roosevelt Island

The first of two Jazzmobile videos shot by Lillian Moreira was shown on the Roosevelt Islander so I figured I could present this second video posted to YouTube of the event that took place this past Tuesday on Roosevelt Island.

Your Choice Leather or Nylon Straps

Last week I ran a post titled "The Last Straphanger" referring to a drawing made of an individual holding a hand strap in the Roosevelt Island Tram.

My post stated that the straps in the Tram are probably the last leather strap hand holds in the NYC mass transit system. In response to that post one commenter was left wondering if the straps in the Red Buses were also leather. The above picture demonstrates that the Red Bus straps are some sort of synthetic nylon material and certainly not leather.

So if leather is your thing come by and take the Tram now as its possible once the Tram is overhauled in 2009 these last leather straps will probably end up as souvenirs of a lucky few RIOC employees.

If the tram straps are ever replaced I would hope RIOC would allow them to be auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting a local charity. In truth I'd rather see them rehung into whatever new tram cabin is built to add a bit of continuity from old to new.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Aug 25: Two More Escalators to be Taken Out Of Service - ES 413/416

See the below advisory re our escalators. The assumption is that Roosevelt Island escalators ES 413 and ES 416 are the additional escalators being taken off line. The MTA Press Office was not able to confirm this but it has to be as ES 411 and ES 414 were replaced already.

The possibility of having 2 sets of 3 off line at once is quite scary. Even though ES 411/414 will be in an up position at all times the morning rush will messy with more individuals looking to use the elevators.

Double click the below image to enlarge it.

----- Original Message -----

From: RIOC Advisories
Sent: Wed Jul 23 14:38:32 2008
Subject: Subway Transit Advisory

Escalator work at Roosevelt Island

Beginning August 25th, two sets of escalators (four in total) will be taken out of service for a month as part of the escalator replacement project.

The escalators are located between the street and lower mezzanine. During this time, the remaining set of escalators will be running in the up direction.

The MTA Elevators and Escalators group will be on call should anything happen to the working escalators during the shutdown.

MetroCard Fare Hikes - A Roosevelt Island Break Even Analysis - $136 Monthly Fare Card

The news the last few days has been discussing possible fare hikes by the NYC Transit Authority and I once again wanted to see what effect that would have on my family's out-of-pocket costs as we live on Roosevelt Island. The reality of living on Roosevelt Island (or in any of the outer boroughs) as opposed to living in Manhattan are that for any trip off the island to Manhattan you rely on mass transit and that means spending money.

During this past year's fare hike the MTA held the single fare steady at $2 but increased the unlimited monthly fare costs from $76 to $81 which was still economical for us iin every way. I wanted to see now how much would it cost us if the MTA again held the single fare at $2 but increased the monthly unlimited to our break even point based on the average number of trips / fares we spend based on our lifestyle. Based on the current fare cost we are spending about $1.19 per fare.

Based on the above schedule the unlimited monthly fare card would have to increase to $136 from its current $81 before we woud be spending the equivalent of a single fare per trip. This schedule also assumes Parent B does not add any extra fares dring the day before returning home with both children at the end of each school day. I am not advocating certainly that the MTA use this as a guide to increase the fare that high but as long as the montly cost stays under that amount and the single fare is at $2 we are ahead of the game.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jazz Tuesday Night at Good Shepherd Plaza

The JazzMobile is coming to Roosevelt Island tomorrow night, Tuesday July 22, 2008 at 7 pm with the Akiko Tsuruga Quartet. The event is free is being sponsored by Urban America. To see a clip of the quartet link HERE.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Local Roosevelt Isle Starbucks Spared

The full list of the 600 Strabucks locations nationwide was released yesterday, 07/17/2008, and it did not include the local Roosevelt Island Starbucks.

It is unknown if this location is making a profit or not but either way it is not being closed.

A full list of the NYC locations being closed is provided below and the entire list of nationwide closings can be found in PDF format HERE. Thanks to reader Daniel Chen for sending me a link regarding the announcement.

The Last Straphanger

In this City we use the term "Straphanger" to refer to bus and subway riders but in truth the City's buses and subways stopped using real straps many years ago. The last place to see real straps in place today are on the Roosevelt Island Tram.

Jason Polan, an artist captured the above image as part of a project to draw "Every Person in New York". Check out his blog to see other images of individuals from around the City.

In the meantime for all you Roosevelt Island residents was this you?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Move to Roosevelt Island - Add 4 1/2 Years to Your Life !

According to the "Measure of America Report", referred to in today's NY Daily News, Roosevelt Island residents as part of the 14th Congressional District live longer, on average 4.5 years longer, than many of our fellow countrymen.

Perhaps the the two kid's spraygrounds next to and behind Blackwell House are the Fountain of Youth?

ESDC Approves $15M Grant to Modernize Tram

As expected the ESDC approved a $15 million grant to modernize the Roosevelt Island Tram. This grant was a formality as the funds were already budgeted for this purpose. The complete of the press release is as follows:



Empire State Development Corporation's Board of Directors met today in Manhattan and approved downstate grants totaling $17.6 million. Among the grants approved was $15 million to help modernize the Roosevelt Islandtram. The tram will contribute to the economic impact of Roosevelt Islandby ensuring a reliable form of transportation for residents to travel backand forth to the city.

The Roosevelt Island tram began operating in 1976. There are 20 other trams operating in the U.S. and Canada but the Roosevelt Island tram is the only aerial commuter tram in the country. Originally built as a temporary means of transportation for island residents by New York State's Urban Development Corporation, it has become a permanent part of the lifeof the island and a treasure for New Yorkers and visitors throughout the world.

Missing Person: 15 Year Old Roosevelt Island Resident

According to the flyers posted this morning around Roosevelt Island a 15 year old named Michelle Lopez has been missing since 12:32 am. If this is correct the flyers were posted within 8 hours of her disappearance. Calls into both PSD and the 114 Precinct NYPD have not yet determined if the girl has been found at this time.
Per the flyer, Ms. Lopez is 15 years old, of Hispanic heritage, 5'6" in height, 140 lbs., has short red hair, brown eyes.

Summer Movies at Firefighters Field - The View

Movies at Firefighters Field - 2008 EWilder

OK, I have to admit this is a pretty cool picture of the June 21, 2008 showing of the movie The NeverEnding Story, presented FREE by RIOC, at Roosevelt Island's Firefighters Field. I still wish this year's Summer movie series was again being held at Southpoint Park as the 360 degree views of Manhattan and Queens are unmatched but this is not so bad either. Even I have to admit it is a cool way to spend an evening.

The above photo was provided to me by Erica Wilder, the Community Liaison from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation. I do not know who the actual photographer was but I am asuming it was Erica.

For those of you interested this week's movie, playing this Saturday night, July 19th, is Jerry Seinfield's "The Bee Movie" which again is presented FREE to all residents and visitors with a show time scheduled for 8:45pm.


Stonehenge at Lighthouse Park

According to local lore thousands of years before the indigenous tribes named the island Minnnahanonck it is believed that a band of very small determined visitors (alien?) looked upon Roosevelt Island as a holy place and they erected equally small guardians to stand watch over their sacred site. It was at first thought that these stone monoliths were quarried here on the island but the stone appears to be of another world. [Satire.]

Currently these three foot tall sentinels now stand at Lighthouse Park looking like an extremely long row of chess pawns waiting to be summoned into action.

Trivia question (to which I have no idea of the answer): How many of these little guys are there?


The above photo is by Wendy Olson and was found on Picasa.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Orphans International Interns Blog

I had read on line and in the WIRE that Orphans International would be bringing a number of Summer Interns to Roosevelt Island. This evening I found that a new blog has been created, to be written it appears by the interns, and from the first post it promises to give another window into the work of this wonderful organization which is based on our island. Check out the first post HERE !

It's Official - Roosevelt Island Is Fun !

Roosevelt Island has officially been deemed "FUN" by the official Fun-o-Meter located in the East Village. Gothamist has confirmed earlier reports in their story today about the Fun-o-Meter.

Free Showing of the "Bee Movie" at Firefighters Field

This weekend. Saturday July 19th, the Roosevelt Island FREE Summer Movie Series will be featuring the "Bee Movie" with showtime starting at 8:45 pm.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lighting Improvements Continue - Thanks Tom !

I have learned that if you don't ask here on Roosevelt Island for an improvement or repair it may not be known to be broken. In the last two years I have never known the sign at the bottom of the Bridge Ramp to have ever been lit and it has always been a source of amusement that we, as an island, could not get this first piece of public relations right with respect to welcoming our vehicular guests.

Well I think we should thank Thomas Turcic, RIOC's Director Engineering, and his crew, for either installing new lights or fixing whatever lights were there but the ramp sign is now wonderfully illuminated. The lights also remove any shadows ensuring that pedestrians are fully visible to drivers looking to drive up or down the ramp at that crossing. Less than a month ago the Engineering Department repaired several lights under the Motorgate Deck brightening the area between the bridge ramp and the entrance to the Motorgate Garage elevator lobby.

So the next time your Uncle Phil is coming around to pick you up and drive you to the airport expect he will finally be on time as he can now clearly see which building addresses are to the right and which are to the left.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Island Once Again Referred to As Hidden Treasure

In a 2 minute video piece airing tonight, July 14, 2008, on NY1 and this evening on their website, Roosevelt Island is once again hailed as a hidden treasure within New York City.

Each of the island's landmarks are covered as well as a few familiar faces including Steve Shane of RIOC and Judy Berdy of the local Historical Society.

Some nice camera work highlighting the natural beauty of the island including our still existing 360 degree view from Southpoint Park.

Traffic Circles, Traffic Patterns and Onstreet Markings

Dear RIOC Public Safety Director Keith Guerra:

Can I ask for confirmation what the allowed traffic pattern is around the traffic circle by the Tram Plaza? On a few mornings when walking to theTram along the sidewalk adjoining the Soccer Field at Firefighters Field I have seen cars looking to make left turns ignore the posted sign and proceed to drive to the left of the curbed circle. One morning a car almost hit my son as we were trying to cross the street to the Tram when the car failed to bear right around the traffic circle. One afternoon this past May a car cut off a Red Bus apparently thinking this sort of left turn was allowed. It is possible though at that time the existing sign was not there. I posted a report of that incident on my blog as I was in the affected bus.

As opposed to the traffic circle / triangle by Blackwell House where street markings make it clear that forking left is allowed and the street markings also prevent cars who are making "U Turns" from making such turns without stopping the traffic circle by the Tram has no such on-street markings or additional signage. The existing circle is apparently being interpreted as only being applicable to cars looking to make U-turns. Certainly if even a moving bus is not making it clear to oncoming drivers we need better signage and on street markings.

Have I misinterpreted the intended traffic pattern? I believe we cannot wait for Riverwalk construction to conclude and even if we need to paint the street several times before the two existing buildings under constructionare complete I feel the added paint and signage would be worth preventingany injuries or worse. Your feedback is appreciated?

Thank you,

From: "Keith Guerra"
Date: Mon, 14 Jul 2008 12:05:33
Subject: Re: Traffic Circles, Traffic Patterns and Onstreet Markings


Thanks for your e-mail. We posted the sign currently on the traffic circle by the tram after we received complaints similar to the one you describe. Traffic is supposed to flow counter clockwise around the circle. Our officers are issuing moving violation summonses to those seen in violation. Unfortunately, in the case of the car in your scenario, if the violation is not actually observed by an officer, a summons cannot be issued. We will continue to pay special attention to that traffic circle.

Keith Guerra
Director of Public Safety

UPDATE: 6:00pm

Apparently sometime in the last few days since I took the pictures at top RIOC painted the additional traffic flow yellow lines and cross walk. I can't say whether it was there this morning as I took the Red Bus to the Tram station. Definitely a step in the right direction. Subsequent to Mr. Guerra's above reply he sent another email where he indicated that PSD would look into posting an additional sign stating textually "Traffic Keep Right" in addition to the existing graphic sign.

Trellis Closed by Health Dept...Again

This evening, at approximately 9:00 pm, a number of individuals walking past Trellis noticed that the lights were out which could only mean bad news. According to the posted DOH notice Trellis has again been closed, as of 5:42 pm this evening, for accumulating 48 violation points. The restaurant was last closed on June 18, 2008 for having a violation score of 49 and was closed temporarily for two days reopening after after a June 20th inspection where the violations observed dropped down to 4. It is unknown how long this closure will last.

Double click the below picture to read the specific violations cited.

Simply One Perturbed Bridge

Perturbed Bridge

The Roosevelt Island Bridge has never gotten any real respect from New York City. Sure it's very construction in the 1950's was a landmark event resulting in trolley cars being displaced off the larger Queensboro Bridge and an upside down elevator building was made obsolete.

But since those halcyon days it had to deal with comments in recent years that it was simply the "Pink Bridge" by many of Roosevelt Island's children so I guess when it finally was given a canvas it was bound to show its true feelings, and even though it is finally undergoing a new paint job and will be given new decking among other upgrades, it simply was one perturbed bridge.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday's Goodwill Event & Advertising

The difference between a good event and a truy successful event is advertising. Attendance at the Goodwill event at Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park from all reports can only be characterized as light. While posters first appeared easily three weeks ago there was little followup and the organizers may have been unaware of how often the poster kiosks are cleaned.

Organizers and participating organizations were very often left with a multitude of excess flyers and freebies which were available to the public. As differing groups packed up for the day it bordered on amusing as each tried to give away last minute bags to individuals sitting / working at tables who had themselves not yet packed up.

The setting could not have been nicer for the event as the humidity was low and a nice easy breeze crossed the park. I cannot say how successful the day was overall as I only showed up at 2pm to work at the local Historical Society table and we packed up at 3pm as very few individuals stopped by and those that did were hoping we were giving away for free the lanyards, books and bags that we were selling to benefit the Historical Society.p>

Hopefully Roosevelt Island gets the chance to host this event again in the future and all parties learn to keep the advertising in the public's mind and face.

Man Partially Scales Roosevelt Island Lighthouse

First off, I am not endorsing this nor am I trying to spark copy cats. This is not the NY Times building. But apparently this individual had the desire to attempt to scale the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse. He partially succeeded. Perhaps he never intended to go beyond the height he did gain. The problem with this idiocy is it will lead to fencing being put up around the landmark preventing individuals from being able to truly enjoy the lighthouse as we are today.

Direct YouTube link by EastStirlingShire

Links: From Bon Jovi to Alpine Loves Lost

Today’s newspapers include two unrelated stories which include references to Roosevelt Island residents. The first is of Jacob Fleitman, a twenty-five year old island resident who apparently waited all night, Friday through Saturday morning, waiting to get a front row seat at last night’s Bon Jovi concert. Link HERE for the NY Post story where Jacob was quoted to say “It’s a once in a lifetime experience to be in the front row, right?”

Jacob along with Felicia Fleitman, according to NY1, apparently started the line, waiting 12 hours before anyone else joined them waiting to enter the Great Lawn for the concert . To see the Fleitmans link HERE.

The second involves a Brit who apparently was the lost love of Carole Getzoff, a writer recalling her first trip overseas and subsequent reconnection with the Brit who for a time lived on Roosevelt Island. Three weeks after their final meeting at restaurant near the Tram the Brit past away due to cancer. For the full story link to “Her Alpine Lover”.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Would You Buy a Lighthouse in a Box?

I have always been intrigued by e-Bay and everything that gets sold on it. The above Roosevelt Island Lighthouse miniature was available only to members of the Harbour Lights Collectors Society and was retired in 4/2002. For this edition 20,000 copies were produced.

I have never been a big fan of chachkas / tshatshkes, inexpensive trinkets or souvenirs, but I have been playing on e-Bay long enough to know that such items can go for a fair penny when collectors are involved.

My question is would you buy such an item for yourself or give it as a gift?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

NYC Bike Sharing Outpost on Roosevelt Island ???

For a long time I have thought Roosevelt Island a great place for bicyclists to visit. I am wondering whether residents and / or NYC DOT would think Roosevelt Island a good place to establish a bulkhead for the NYC bike sharing program? I figured the bike racks could be set up near the Tram station (close to the walkway that wraps around the North end of the Racquet Club) under the Queensboro Bridge.

Tourists and visitors could take the tram or subway onto the island and then pick up a shared bike and then use the bike to ride around the island or into LIC to go to the Noguchi Museum or Socrates Park or wherever. They could then return the bikes at the end of their visit and exit off the island via the tram or subway. Residents could use the bikes to travel into Queens. Having the bikes on the island would increase tourism onto the island and into the section of LIC closest to Roosevelt Island. With the new bike paths along Vernon Boulevard it would make for a natural fit.

Recycling This Saturday at Lighthouse Park

This Saturday at the entrance to Roosevelt Island's Lighthouse Park will be a recycling event co-sponsored by Good Will and the Council for the Environment of NYC.

Thank you to Senator Serrano's office for getting the word out!

Gondola Ride Over Bronx Zoo Stuck for Hours

Tonight the various news outlets are reportng on the story that the gondola "Skyfari" ride at the Bronx Zoo was stuck for a number of hours stranding 37 individuals in mid-air reminiscent of the 2006 outage that struck the Roosevelt Island Tram.

The difference from what I read in the NY Times article, pictured above, was this incident involved a wheel of one gondola actually coming off the cable where the Roosevelt Island stoppage was power related and at no time were either of the Tram cabins detached from their cables in any form.

As resident of Roosevelt Island who travels via our Trams almost daily I have to admit when I first started riding them I felt somewhat uneasy during the experience but over the years have grown accustomed to the ride and no longer have any fears. But when I ride the Skyfari ride at the Zoo the old feelings return which I attribute to the small size of their cabins. I can't imagine the feelings that must have gone through those riders this evening as they waited much less for the three family members that were in the affected cabin.

One additional comment is in regard to the following quote from the article:

"Firefighters at the scene said they could not recall a time in the last 15 years when they were called out to the zoo to respond to an emergency on the Skyfari. They added that they do not regularly train to make high-angle rescues on the ride. Firefighters do, however, train to do rescues on another tramlike cable car ride in the zoo that crosses the Bronx River because it hovers over water. "

As resident I feel very comfortable knowing that the FDNY, along with our Tram staff and the local PSD train periodically to deal with tram stoppages and making if needed emergency rescues so visitors and residents alike should take comfort in that knowledge. All I can say for these individuals in "Thank G-d" for Bay Crane.

UPDATE 945 am Thurs. July 10

This morning Greg, oe of Tram operators recounted his learning of the Bronx Zoo stoppage. He was watching TV and saw a news scroll across the screen and saw the words "cable car stuck" and he just waited and breathed a bit easier when he saw it was not on Roosevelt Island. He also clarified for me that the wheels at the Bronx Zoo could not have come off the cables as their system does not operate that way. He indicated theirs is a single cable system. The same cable that pulls the car also carries the car.

The wheels are merely there for the operators do at ski resorts to pull the car around for new passengers to get in the car. Those of you that have taken the Skyfari ride will recall this. Greg is guessing the system stopped when a "brake" finally was tripped open either at the end stations or at the car in question.

Monday, July 7, 2008

2008 July 4 - Aerial View of Southpoint


The above photo was taken by Kyang and can be found in its entirety on Flickr. Simply an amazing view of Southpoint Park with all the lights and boats waiting for the fireworks to begin.

Fireworks Crowd Dispersal Offers Evacuation Lessons

As I mentioned in my post of yesterday evening I did not attend the fireworks this year but I purposely positioned myself to view the crowds when they arrived at the subway station to leave the island. My goal was to see how the MTA and the NYPD handled up to a few thousand bodies wanting to leave the island at one point in time. The picture I posted from Flickr confirmed what I fully expected that being a pile up. But what the picture does not show is how these separate departments worked together to funnel the attendees through and why it took for the last individual stragglers up until 11:10 pm to enter the subway station.

My goal was to watch what worked and what might have worked better with an eye towards a possible evacuation of Roosevelt Island if an emergency or weather condition force such an evacuation. There are only three ways off this island and only the subway has the capacity to transport large numbers of residents far enough off the island which would be needed. Sure the Roosevelt Island Bridge could accommodate a large number of residents to tranverse it by foot (few residents have cars overall) but that leaves those residents in the middle of nowhere with out a mass transit answer on the other side.

Overall I believe the MTA and NYPD did a good job of ensuring that the flow of riders did not result in one continuous burst of individuals trying to access the escalators, elevators, stairs and platforms all at once which could have lead to accidents at any of those points. The flow of individuals was staggered to allow for easy access down to the platforms and also to ensure the platforms were never overly crowded.

The first thing I noticed was that the MTA set up three defined entrance points (1) Metrocard holders (2) individuals with strollers, and (3) Roosevelt Island residents. The Metrocard holders entry point snaked a bit off towards the East / right away from the entrance and then back to the entrance to prevent the line from simply being a straight line back from the door to ensure no straight rush could be made for the doors. The RI residents line allowed residents immediate access no matter what with no delays which was a great feature.

The man in charge was Mr. Clayton W. Conaway Sr. who holds the position of New York City Transit General Superintendent for District #4 – Parsons Archer Stations Operations. In addition to about a 8 to 12 uniformed officers at the station I counted about another dozen MTA personnel directing traffic flow in and outside the station all apparently deferring to this man’s direction. He and his staff constantly were viewing the monitors gauging the flow of individuals once they passed through the turnstiles to determine when and how many more individuals to let enter the station.

As Mr. Conaway states in the video the MTA’s primary focus was safety and not speed and upon watching this applied in action from the many vantage points afforded me that evening I belief it worked well. Sure there were many individuals that would have like to get through faster but in most cases I believe the MTA staffers handled themselves and the crowd well. Sure at the initial choke point there were a few instances of riders that climbed over the wall that tested the MTA staffers patience but the woman I saw at the forefront of the line appeared forceful but never disrespectful despite everyone dealing with the rain which thankfully was never truly a downpour.

At one point there were in effect two Metrocard holder lines one which snaked towards Duane Reade and a second which bordered Main Street. Entrance from these lines alternated and neither line seemed favored. The MTA staffers were quick to let families with strollers and elderly through and in most cases the Superintendent with an eye towards keeping traffic flowing directed these individuals through the gate entrance rather than through the turnstiles. I also noted that for the few minutes I wandered down to the track level that MTA reps did indeed hold trains in response to rider needs and traffic flow.

The only suggestion I heard from both MTA staffers and NYPD officers that perhaps two distinct lines should have been created for Manhattan/Brooklyn bound riders versus that of Queens bound riders to better control line movement with that of platform levels and train arrivals. It seemed the logical step and an idea for next year.

From the many people I spoke to and observed most seemed in reasonable spirits and no one seemed truly put out. I do believe many had no clue what they were going to encounter when they left but to those individuals I say what else could you have expected as you either came in with the crowds or watched the fireworks with them next to you unless they though the event’s attendance was mostly residents.

Overall I believe the MTA met its goal of processing everyone through but with the overriding goal of safety first. I can’t think of anything else that could have been done to make it less painful that it had to be. Processing 2000 to 3000 persons through between 9:30/9:45 pm though 11:00 pm did not seem overly burdensome or unfair to anyone that passed through that station.

As for whether these same tactics could be applied to an evacuation it is unclear as then one would expect a lot more irritation and underlying fears on the part of the residents trying to enter the station and the MTA personnel and in addition to individuals evacuating would be carrying a mountain of belongings etc which always clogs up the works. Given enough time though if residents heed warnings to leave early if proper staffing was present at the station a good chunk of residents could get out this way. If an emergency came out of nowhere timewise and that is main option open to us we may have a big problem.