After an eight-month renovation, the Roosevelt Island Tram is now once again carrying passengers to and from Manhattan.
The tram made its first run this morning.
The $25 million makeover offers riders longer seats and bigger windows.
The tram travels 17 miles per hour, making for a three-minute ride between 59th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan and Roosevelt Island. The new system makes the ride one-minute faster.
Officials with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation say it was time for a more modern tram to replace the old one, which began making trips in 1976. Impetus for the overhaul came in 2006, when the tram lost power – stranding 69 people above the East River for hours.
"The original tram was supposed to last 17 years and it did last 34, so it was time for an upgrade,” said Leslie Torres, president of the RIOC.
"I love the back-ups, the redundancy, so there is really zero chance of getting stuck ever again,” said tram operator Greg Paravati.
The two new tram cabins run on separate systems, unlike the old tram which was one system, similar to a clothesline.
"Within a half-hour period, we can make many more runs then we could before. Again, because the cars can run independently,” said RIOC’s Planning and Governmental Affairs Vice President Rosina Abramson.
Roosevelt Island residents said they were thrilled to once again have the tram.
"It's been a very difficult time for Roosevelt Islanders who've had only the F train to get to work and it's been very crowded in the morning," said Matthew Katz of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association. "So we're thrilled to death to have the tram back."
"It's not that it makes it so much easier, it's that it makes it so much nicer than to go three levels down into the subway, three levels when you go back over there, versus getting to ride in the air and see this incredible view," said Roosevelt Island resident Denise Shull. "It's like a quality-of-life thing for me."
Officials had originally said the project would be complete by September. They cited stormy summer weather as one reason for the delay, along with delayed permits from various city and state agencies taking longer due to the uniqueness of the system.
"If it's made the tram safer by extending the time that it took, then so be it,” said a tram rider.