The Roosevelt Island Tram has come a long way from its original intended use as a temporary mode of transportation to connect the island’s residents to Manhattan while awaiting construction of the F train stop. It recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and has developed into a vital transit option, serving more than two million passengers annually. Nevertheless, the aerial passageway has been operating without any sort of agreement for the past 20 years. But all that is set to change after a recent vote from City Council.
On Wednesday, City Council voted to approve a potential agreement between the city and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) that would keep the Roosevelt Island Tram around for another 50 years. So what exactly does this mean? It means that a proposed franchise between the city’s Department of Transportation and the RIOC could allow the tramway to continue operating as-is, but with full protection, until 2068.
This is not the first time that a franchise agreement has been in place for the Tram. In fact, the original agreement was held by the New York State Urban Development Corporation from 1974 until its expiration in 1995. Since then, the RIOC has operated the Tram on an interim basis. The new franchise agreement would allow for advertisements to continue to populate the Tram’s interiors while leaving the iconic exterior untouched. The franchise fee will be 0.5 percent of MetroCard swipe collections.
“The Roosevelt Island ‘Tram’ is part of what makes this island unique and special in comparison to Manhattan. We are proud to have it here and we are excited to see it will continue to serve our island and the rest of New York City for generations to come,” said Susan G. Rosenthal President of the Roosevelt Island Corporation (RIOC).