Roosevelt Island aerial tramway reopens

The Roosevelt Island Tram makes its way across the East River Friday, Sept. 1, 2006, in New York City. (Paul Hawthorne)

November 30, 2010 2:46:32 PM PST
The Roosevelt Island tramway is back in business.

A ribbon-cutting in the morning capped off a multi-million-dollar overhaul that's expected to give riders a safer and quicker commute.

It took nearly nine months and $25 million, but the new state-of-the-art tramway is once again taking riders across the East River.

The estimated two million people who use the tram each year can expect several improvements, starting with a quicker commute.

The new tram is said to be capable of making the trip between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan in just three minutes, which is about a minute less than before the renovation.

Engineers also designed the cabins to be more stable in high winds, and there's more window space to make for better views during crossings.

The new tram carries fewer people at a time, 109 passengers compared to 125 previously. However, two gondolas can leave at the same time from the same side, which should help ease demand during rush hour.

The new tramway is also said to be less susceptible to mechanical failure and breakdowns, problems that left dozens of riders hanging back in 2006 when a power outage stranded them for hours on above the East River and the East Side of Manhattan. Rescuers had to use an emergency gondola to get them down.

About 10,000 people live on Roosevelt Island. It's a 2-mile-long, 800-foot-wide strip of land in the river between Manhattan and Queens. It's also accessible by bridge and subway.

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