Roosevelt Island Tram Re-Opens

José M. Serrano

November 30, 2010

Senator Serrano today joined community leaders for the Inaugural Ride on The Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway, the most advanced urban aerial tramway system in the world. Closed for modernization in March 2010, the system has been completely rebuilt and is now back in full service.

"As the Roosevelt Island community continues to expand, it is important that its facilities and services reflect that growth," said Senator Serrano. "The extensive improvements to the tramway system will greatly benefit New York, as they will continue to ensure a safe, fast, and reliable ride for both residents and visitors of the island for years to come. We have all been anxiously anticipating this inaugural ride, and I would like to thank the RIOC Board and its President, Leslie Torres, for all of their labors, which have made it possible for commuters and tourists to now enjoy the increased efficiency of the modernized Tram."

With the upgrades that have been completed, the Roosevelt Island (RI) Tram is again the most modern urban aerial tramway system in the world; as it had been when first installed in 1976. The Tram’s $25 million modernization, designed to extend the operations of the Tram for another thirty years, is funded by a combination of New York State and Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) funds.  Because of technological advances, the Tram’s passenger capacity is expected to grow as Roosevelt Island’s 1969 General Development Plan (GDP) is completed in the next several years. The Tram, which currently carries more than two million passengers a year is now poised to accommodate increased ridership resulting from the expected completion of housing development as well as the opening of two public park areas at the Island’s southern end.  South Point, a nine acre park surrounding the landmarked Small Pox Hospital ruin is scheduled to open in spring 2011.

The FDR Four Freedoms Memorial Park, currently under construction, will feature a memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd president, commemorating his Four Freedoms speech.  It was designed in the 1970’s by noted architect Louis Kahn and is expected to open in 2013.  Together, these two areas will provide 14 acres of new open space for all New Yorkers.

The two tramway terminals, one situated on Roosevelt Island and the other on Second Avenue between 59th and 60th Sts., are scheduled for modernization as well.  Work will proceed on those during “non – peak” travel times, so as to not disrupt operations significantly. Station improvements are expected to be completed in summer of 2011.