Roosevelt Island has many advantages - it's cheaper than Manhattan and has some gorgeous skyline views. However, we just heard that a tram has been stuck over water for the past 40 minutes and that emergency services has been requested to help remove passengers. And, thus, we were reminded why we do not live there. And will emergency services use rappling hooks, dust off their jet packs or just call Spiderman? There is, however, the F train.
WNBC is showing the tram - those poor folks are literally hanging in midair. On most other days, the Roosevelt Island tram rules. Apparently there have been three power failures: the regular diesel engines, the backup generators, and the hand-cranks. Talk about bad luck!
Photograph of the RI tram taken a few weeks ago by eric schryver on Flickr
UPDATE: holy shit-- this sounds like the worst commute ever! As of the last batch of stories, just after 10pm, the tram is still up there, and people are still stuck! Where are these people peeing? Yikes!
WNBC has the story and pictures. The Times says two cars are stranded, one with 50 people closer to the Island, one with 30 people closer to Manhattan Newsday has some facts about the trams (Built in 1976, 125 person capacity, average trip is 4.5 minutes.)
UPDATE 11:01PM: WNBC is showing rescue buckets hovering above the tram-- delivering supplies and preparing to bring people out. Ten people will be brought out at a time and taken to Roosevelt Island (presumably, from the tram closest to the Island-- the Manhattan-side tram isn't on screen.) Can you imagine having to jump on to a rescue bucket in the middle of the night after 6 hours of hanging in midair? This is like a bad disaster movie! People must be freaking the buck out in there!
Lots of great pictures of the tram on Gothamist Contribute's Flickr Stream. For instance this one of the tram, or this one of a man looking out, by Eye in Astoria:
With only one basket, transporting 10 people at a time, some people are going to be up there for at least another few hours-- longest Roosevelt Island commute in history!
We'll keep updating this post until the last person is out-- or until we fall asleep, or get distracted by all the TomKitten coverage.
UPDATE 11:35PM: FOX5 is saying that the total count is 69 adults and 12 children on the two trams, and that 13 people have already been taken off in the bucket-- 8 kids and 5 adults. [Note: other channels are reporting 69 people total-- so we're not sure.] It's pretty painful to watch the local anchors trying to extend the coverage as not much is happening. On FOX, they are going to the person-on-the-street interviews-- and Chuck and Sue are bantering on Channel 4 to fill up the time.
UPDATE 11:40PM. Press conference! Bloomberg is up on the podium. Accident started at 5:22PM with double power failures. He pronounces it as "Gon-Dola"-- that's sort of weird. He's describing all the agencies that are on site effecting the rescue. Supplies have been delivered to both cars. Bloomberg has talked to the first 13 people to come off-- they are all in good health and spirits, and they said the people left on the tram are doing okay. Bloomberg is saying the recue will take awhile-- a couple of police officers are on board-- but he's saying it's going to take "many hours"-- and people will be on until early morning. Nobody so far has needed medical attention. Bloomberg is saying the tram won't run again until the problems have been worked out and they figure out why the backups didn't function. NYPD Chief Kelly is describing the operations of the "gon-dola", and Bloomberg is stepping back in to describe the order of evacuation-- kids first, starting on the Roosevelt Island side. He's saying that the evacuation is through the window of the tram! Yikes!
The guys on ABC7 are saying it took 4 hours to get supplies up-- contrary to what Bloomberg said-- and everyone is wondering about the bathroom situation. ABC also has a helicopter shot showing the distance between the bucket and the tram car-- there's definitely a gap that they have to carry people across. Looks like at least a couple of feet-- that might sound like much, but they are 250ft up!
MEDIA UPDATE 11:55PM: ABC7, FOX5, and NBC4 are holding with the story. Looks like CBS has gone back to Letterman, and NY1 is strangely not covering the story at all. Neither, of course, are Channel 11 or Channel 9. CNN hasn't done anything that we've seen-- doesn't seem like a national story. Ooooh, bonus: WNBC has a good webfeed with a straight shot from the bridge-- you can see people crawling out!
UPDATE 1248PM: Most of the stations have gone back to normal coverage-- ABC7 is staying with it and just had a small press conference with some people from the second bucket. They are saying 22 people have come off so far-- all from the tram closer to RI. At this rate, the people in the other tram aren't getting off until 3 or 4AM! We're going to bed-- if any of you nightowls are staying up, can you post updates in the comments?
UPDATE 4:30AM: they've just completed unloading the last of the passengers from the Manhattan-side tram. They are using a crane and bucket system from the bridge. Jennifer 8. Lee has updated her Times story, and has a mini-scoop-- an interview with Rick Lazio, who's family was on the tram:
Family members of Rick Lazio, the former Republican congressman and Senate candidate from Long Island, were among those in midair. His wife, Patricia, had been taking their 12-year-old daughter, Kelsey, to a tennis lesson on the island.
"I think the information flow has been pretty abysmal," said Mr. Lazio, in an interview from his Manhattan apartment about 10 p.m. "One of the problems is that the official communication has been extremely wanting, so people would get information from different sources, like cellphones."
More to come!