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The original item was published from 2/1/2019 5:43:00 PM to 2/1/2019 5:44:15 PM.

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Posted on: January 17, 2019

[ARCHIVED] Two-Part Major Tram Overhaul to Begin February 11th

Tram Track Cable Illustration

The Roosevelt Island Tram is scheduled to undergo two major maintenance projects that will reduce operating service to one cabin only beginning on February 11th and continuing for at least 12 weeks, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) announced.

Track cable relocation, phase 1 of the work, is a safety requirement of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for aerial tramways and gondolas operating in the United States.

As per the safety regulations (ANSI B77.1), the Tram is required to relocate its track cables after a pre-determined amount of time. RIOC’s Tram contractor Leitner-Poma, who totally rebuilt the Tram’s infrastructure nine years ago, will perform the work.

The timeline is subject to change depending on weather conditions and the conditions found within the equipment during the relocation. During that time, one cabin will be taken out of service, starting with the North cabin.

“Much like a car that has recommended maintenance at pre-determined intervals, we are that point with the Roosevelt Island Tram,” said RIOC CEO and President Susan Rosenthal.

“We apologize in advance for the inconvenience this may cause. But this effort is to create the safest transportation system possible and to extend its service life into the future,” Rosenthal said of the Tram that since 2016 has transported more than 10 million commuters. “We appreciate your patience and assistance with this important maintenance project.”

Track cables are basically the “road” that the Tram cabin runs on. Each track cable does have movement with every trip of the tram to allow for expansion and contraction, but for the most part the cables are fixed in a single location on each tower. Over time, this location is subject to more wear and bending actions than the other locations, which is the reason the cable is periodically relocated.

Each track cable also contains fiber optic lines inside the core, which the Tram uses for communications and controls. This fiber optic line must be cut and re-terminated following the track relocation.

There will be periods of shutdown for both cabin systems during the actual movement of the rope, during tensioning and during the fiber optic changeover, but the plan is to conduct this work late at night and during normal overnight shutdown periods.

Leitner-Poma crews will be working seven days per week to complete the work as quickly as


The second phase of work consists of four gearbox overhauls (inspecting and replacing internal parts such as the gears, bearings, seals and oil changes).  This work will start as soon as Phase 1’s track cable relocation is complete. The schedule may change depending on the construction of needed parts and the impact of the federal government shutdown of the overseas import of those parts.

The duration of Phase 2 is estimated to last four to six weeks. During that repair, the Tram will be running daily on a one-cabin reduced capacity.


Each cabin is pulled by an assembly of two gearboxes. Due to the age of the gearboxes and following the gearbox failure on the North tram last August, Kissling AG, the original gearbox manufacturer and a leader in the industry, has recommended to proceed right away with the overhaul of all four gearboxes. 

To help facilitate Island residents’ commutes during this period, RIOC will operate Red Bus shuttles between 58th-Street-and- Second-Avenue in Midtown Manhattan and the Roosevelt Island Tram Station during the weekday afternoon peak commute, 3 PM - 8:30 PM. 

In discussions with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority which operates the New York City subway and bus system, RIOC officials received assurances this week that there will be no disruptions to the subway’s F Train line that services Roosevelt Island, including weekends up until April 19.

Additional service will be provided via the E Train line, weeknights March 18 – March 22 and March 25 – March 29; and all four weekends March 23 – April 25.

RIOC has also asked NYC Ferry officials to consider expanding ferry service – to and from Roosevelt Island, Queens and Manhattan - during the weekday peak periods and weekends; and is awaiting their response.

More information about this project, updated Red Bus shuttle schedules and project timelines will be posted at Please forward additional questions or inquiries to


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