For Roosevelt Island residents, riding the tram is now just a tap away.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has officially launched a new electronic tap-and-pay system at Tramway Plaza, thanks in part to the efforts of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and its CEO, Shelton Haynes.
The system, known as OMNY (which stands for One Metro New York), allows Roosevelt Island Tramway riders to place their smart wallet device or tap-enabled credit card near a reader to pay for passage. The OMNY station works with smartphones, wearable technology like Apple Watches, bank-issued credit and debit cards, and OMNY cards. But the convenience of use is just one of the benefits the new system brings for Roosevelt Island residents and visitors, Shelton Haynes said.
“Bringing OMNY to the Roosevelt Island tram has been an important initiative that we’ve worked on for some time,” he said. “More and more island travelers are turning to OMNY for their everyday transit use, and as the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s important for our infrastructure to keep pace with those changing trends.
“I want to thank MTA Chair [Janno] Lieber and his team for their close collaboration throughout this process and our elected officials who advocated so passionately for bringing OMNY here to Roosevelt Island. Finally, I want to offer a huge thank you to the RIOC legal team, led by Gretchen Robinson, for their tireless work in bringing this initiative to fruition.”
Saving Time, Saving Money
The new tap system automatically enrolls riders in the MTA’s money-saving “best fare” program. Through the program, riders who pay with the same card or device over a seven-day period will be charged the most competitive rate for each ride. This includes trips along the tramway as well as rides on MTA buses and subways.
The best fare program begins as soon as the first tap is made. For the first 11 rides over the seven-day period, customers will be charged $2.90 per ride. After that, they automatically pay a lower rate — $2.10 — for their 12th and 13th rides. Following those trips, every ride within the seven-day period is free (although tapping a card or device is still necessary).
Frequent riders, especially those who make 14 or more trips on MTA vehicles in a week, will benefit from the fare-capping initiative. Now, no matter how many rides users take in a week, they will never pay more than $34.
The OMNY system is also capable of supporting passengers who qualify for MTA’s Reduced Fare program. Those who are enrolled in the Reduced Fare program can use their smart device or bank card at OMNY stations. Those who are still using MetroCards can switch their account to a smart device by using the OMNY digital assistant online.
“We are very proud that the new system is designed for all our residents and visitors. Not only do we believe the OMNY station will be more convenient for travelers, but we also hope it cuts down on entrance wait times and encourages more commuters to opt for public transportation,” Haynes said.
How Shelton Haynes Saw a ‘Step Forward’
Through the addition of OMNY, the Roosevelt Island Tramway has become the first entity not operated by the MTA to use a tap-and-pay system.
The deal to install OMNY on Roosevelt Island came after months of work between the MTA and the RIOC. The project helps commuters who live on Roosevelt Island to save time and money as they ride the tram to and from work during the week. It also is a boon to tourists and visitors, Shelton Haynes said.
“It took a lot of work for us to be granted the license to use OMNY. And I appreciate all the work done by the RIOC and the MTA. This is truly a step forward for our public transit system,” he said. “Long-time residents will remember the tram tokens that allowed riders to book passage on the rails. We did away with those more than 20 years ago, replaced by MetroCards. Now, with the addition of the tap-and-pay OMNY station, Roosevelt Island Tramway has come firmly into the modern digital age.”
The move is not only more convenient for the way that most people expect to pay, he said, but it also better aligns the Roosevelt Island station with the technical capabilities of other, MTA-operated stations throughout New York.
“Our priority is always to make life on the island more pleasant and enjoyable for our residents, and I am thrilled we were able to work closely with the MTA to make that happen,” said Shelton Haynes, RIOC President & CEO. “As our society moves forward, we need to make sure that we keep up with trends, and this ensures that our facilities are staying up to date with what our residents and visitors expect of a forward-looking community.”
The OMNY system — which is more secure in addition to being simpler to operate — is also extremely popular. Across MTA-operated facilities, riders have used OMNY contactless payment stations to charge more than 1 billion rides so far.
Using the New System
Those interested in trying the Roosevelt Island Tramway have many chances to hop on a tram, as they leave every seven to 15 minutes. The trams make direct trips to and from the station at 59th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan.
The Roosevelt Island Tramway operates seven days a week, with trams running from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 6 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The tramway is also a great option for residents and workers to use during times while maintenance work impacts the F train’s service to Roosevelt Island, MTA officials said. Currently, critical track work is taking place to improve the reliability and extend the longevity of the F train’s track between 47th and 50th streets and Rockefeller Center in Manhattan and 36th Street in Queens.
For more information about the new OMNY system, visit omny.info.