Welcome to our Roosevelt Island Tram Guide for 2019.

With the opening of FDR Four Freedoms Park, followed by Cornell Tech, interest in Roosevelt Island soared. Soon, the Tram, New York City’s cheapest big thrill ride, caught the fever. Following is a quick how-to for the Roosevelt Island Tram and little history to increase the fun…

Details for The Roosevelt Island Tram

  • What does the Roosevelt Island Tram cost? Although not managed by the MTA, the Tram operates within the New York City Subway MetroCard system. Transfers are easy between systems. You swipe a MetroCard at turnstiles in either Tram Plaza. Buy MetroCards at either location. Fares are $2.75 per single ride and include one free transfer between Tram and MTA Subway and Bus.
  • Where is the Roosevelt Island Tram? The most popular access point is the Tram Plaza on 2nd Avenue, between East 59th and East 60th Streets. Closest subway access is from the N, R and W station one block west at 3rd Avenue. One block farther is the 4, 5 and 6 station on Lexington near Bloomingdales. Q32 and M102 buses also stop within a block of the Tram. Access the Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza by F Train, one block north, Q102 Bus or NYC Ferry, a short walk away.
  • How long does the Roosevelt Island Tram take? The Tram glides alongside the Queensboro Bridge for roughly four minutes. Times vary as the cabins speed up or slow down, depending on need. Cabins rise 250 feet. The city spreads out on all sides. Nighttime rides are spectacular.
  • When is the Roosevelt Island Tram open? Cabins sweep skyward from 6:00 a.m until 2:00 a.m. at 15 minute intervals. They run twice as often, every 7 1/2 minutes, during rush hours when demand is high, for example, when the subway is down or there is a special event. If possible, visitors should avoid rush hours when cabins can be cramped, and you’re better off waiting for a better experience and view when local residents aren’t using the Tram to get to and from work. RIOC Red Buses offer free rides to most Island locations.© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily
  • How do I get around Roosevelt Island? Roosevelt Island, from north to south between channels of the East River, is just two miles long, and it’s easy to walk to Shops on Main in the heart of town, numerous historic sites, the sprinkling of parks throughout the Island, FDR Four Freedoms Park and Cornell Tech. As unique as the Tram, free, full size red buses carry passengers to all points. Just watch for the red signs for stops. The buses, like the Tram are operated by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC).

Brief History of the Tram

The Roosevelt Island Tram was built and operating in 1976 as the modern community, envisioned as the City of Tomorrow, welcomed its first permanent residents, planned as a temporary solution until a subway connection was built.

But construction lagged, and by the time the Roosevelt Island Subway Station opened in 1989, the Tram was a beloved local fixture. Residents put up a fierce fight, and finally, they won the battle. They saved the treasured system.

Eventually, the entire system, except the towers, was replaced with newer, more reliable technologies.

Tourists flock to the Tram, which doesn’t disappoint, but visitors experiences increase during off-peak hours. Residents rely on the Tram for commuting, and the cabins get crowded.

Roosevelt Island Tip: However you find your way to Roosevelt Island, smart visitors stop by the Historical Society’s Visitor Kiosk in the Tram Plaza on Main Street. Find souvenirs, maps and refreshments along with helpful suggestions and answers from a knowledgeable staff.

A slightly different version of this article appears in the Roosevelt Island Daily.

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