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Jul 21, 2023
System Dossier


Post by gondola-project

The Roosevelt Island Tram is considered America’s first CPT system and a true pioneer in the field of urban cable car transport. The Tram was necessitated by the development of Roosevelt Island when many residents started moving onto the island’s new housing projects in the 1970s.

The Tram was built by Von Roll (a now defunct manufacturer) and was first opened for passenger service in July 1976. It was designed as a stop-gap measure to temporarily transport commuters over the East River to Manhattan before a subway was to arrive.

However, as time passed with no signs of an underground connection, citizens continued to take to the skies where the aerial lift became further entrenched into the lives of island commuters. Perhaps due to a combination of its novelty, aerial views (up to heights of 76m), and the fact that most commutes in New York are dark, cramped and miserable, the Tram quickly became an instant success and was soon converted into a permanent piece of transport.

Even though the island is served by a subway today, over 2 million riders hop aboard the Tram for panoramic views each year. In fact, it is considered an icon of the island and has been featured in popular media channels, including Spider-Man (2002) film.

After 34 years in operations, the Tram owners (Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation) decided to upgrade the system in 2010. Amazingly, the Tram ran for more than double its projected service life of 17 years with only two breakdowns. POMA, a French manufacturer of cable lifts was selected to modernize the system and after 8 months of construction work, the Tram reopened to passengers in November 2010.

The new system, no longer operates in a jig-back (aerial tram) configuration, rather the cabins are able to operate independently from each other. This new “dual haul” configuration results in improved efficiency, reliability and demand responsiveness.

System Statistics:

Length (km)1.0
Year Opened1976 (modernized 2010)
Trip Time3-4 minutes
Maximum speed (m/s)8


Image credits: CC BY-SA 2.0, by joiseyshowaa


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