Saturday, June 14, 2008

Taste of Roosevelt Island Life Without a Tram? The Taste Was Doughnuts

Roosevelt Island Journal - What Is Life Without a Tram? Residents Are Getting a Taste - Tram service is suspended for ten days beginning this Monday for cable maintenance, a prelude to a six-month suspension next Spring for a major overhaul. No tram means extra crowding at the Island's subway station (pictured). "I don't see how we're going to function next year, " said one Island resident, "It's already a nightmare."

In 1980 a crowded subway would have been a dream, not a nightmare. These were pioneer days, when residents of Roosevelt Island foraged every morning for roots and berries (well that's what we told our friends - there was a Shopwell even then). There was no subway, just the tram and a small bridge to Long Island City, Queens. See "Survivor Prequel - Life On An Island'.

The tram was scheduled for a week of maintenance downtime in 1980, 0r perhaps early 1981. Buses would meet us at the Island tram station, drive North on Roosevelt Island, East across the little bridge into Queens, South through Long Island City, West across the Queensborough Bridge, then deposit us at the other tram station on 59th and Second Ave. in Manhattan - a five minute view filled tram ride turned into a forty minute traffic filled grind.

Management saw opportunity in the maintenance break and seized it. Nighthawks, in which Sly Stallone saved NY from terrorists holding the tram and its passengers hostage, would shoot during the maintenance break. For the first several days of the break in tram service, we were treated to free coffee and doughnuts, courtesy of the movie production company, and the exciting possibility that we would see Sly, Billy Dee Williams, Rutger Hauer or Lindsay Wagner (aka the Bionic Woman).

Sadly, the movie shoot wrapped, at least at our location, the coffee and doughnuts ended and the "maintenance" break continued. We continued to wait, and jounce on that bus through Queens, for a part that never came. After a few weeks management gave up, large trams were not mass produced -apparently the inventory of key parts was, well. non-existent. Tram service was restored and the maintenance was postponed until the part (apparently not a critical safety component) could be fabricated.

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