Elevating the Commute: Shelton Haynes’ Vision for Roosevelt Island’s Tram


Shelton Haynes, the dedicated CEO and President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) has spearheaded a transforming project reshaping the daily commute for Roosevelt Island residents and visitors. In partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and under Shelton Haynes’ leadership, Roosevelt Island’s iconic tramway has taken a significant step into the digital introduction of the OMNY tap-and-pay system.

OMNY, an acronym for “One Metro New York,” represents a cutting-edge contactless payment system that simplifies access to tram rides. Under Shelton Haynes’ guidance, this innovative system allows commuters to quickly pay for tram services by tapping their quick payment device or card near an OMNY reader at Tramway Plaza. OMNY is compatible with various payment methods, including smartphones, smartwatches, bank-issued credit and debit cards, and dedicated OMNY, providing riders flexibility and convenience.

Shelton Haynes recognizes the significance of this achievement, stating, “Introducing OMNY to the Roosevelt Island tram has been a pivotal project that we’ve been diligently working on. As more and more island travelers embrace OMNY for their daily tour infrastructure, they must keep pace with these evolving trends in a digital world.”

The OMNY system brings automatic enrollment in the MTA’s “best fare” program, another compelling benefit highlighted by Shelton Haynes. This innovative program ensures that riders receive the most competitive fare for each trip when they use the same card or device for tramway rides and other MTA services in seven days.

The program initiates upon the first tap, guaranteeing riders the lowest available fares. For the first 11 rides during the seven days, passengers are charged just $2.90 per ride. Subsequently, they enjoy a reduced rate of $2.10 for their 12th and 13th trips. Beyond these rides, all seven-day periods are free, provided that riders continue to tap their cards or devices.

This fare-capping initiative mainly benefits frequent riders, ensuring they are more than $34, regardless of the number of trips they take.

Shelton Haynes emphasizes the inclusivity of the OMNY system, stating, “We are immensely proud that the new system is designed to cater to all our residents and visitors. We believe the OMNY station will not only enhance convenience for travelers but also reduce entry wait times, encouraging more commuters to choose public transportation.”

The OMNY system accommodates passengers eligible for the MTA’s Reduced Fare program, enabling them to use their smart devices or bank cards at OMNY stations. For those still utilizing MetroCards, transitioning to a smart device is straightforward, thanks to the OMNY digital assistant available online.

A Bold Leap Forward For Shelton Haynes and RIOC

Shelton Haynes views the introduction of OMNY as a monumental step forward for the Roosevelt Island Tramway. This historic achievement positions the tramway as the first entity not operated by the MTA to implement a tap-anThisAttaining this milestone involved extensive negotiations and collaboration between the MTA and RIOC, ultimately benefiting island residents, commuters, and tourists.

Reflecting on the tram’s evolution from token-based fares to today’s digital age, Shelton Haynes states, “Long-time residents may recall tram tokens that allowed riders to book passage on the rails. We phased out tokens more than 20 years ago, introducing MetroCards. Now, with the addition of the tap-and-pay OMNY station, the Roosevelt Island Tramway firmly embraces the modern digital era.”

This transformation aligns the Roosevelt Island station with the technological capabilities of other MTA-operated stations throughout New York City. The OMNY system, offering enhanced security and simplicity, has gained immense popularity, with riders using OMNY contactless payment stations for over 1 billion rides across MTA-operated facilities.

Embracing the Future: Riding with OMNY

For those eager to experience the convenience of the Roosevelt Island Tramway, trams depart every seven to 15 minutes, providing direct trips to and from the station at 59th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan.

Operating seven days a week, the tram runs from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and from 6 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Additionally, it is an excellent alternative during maintenance work on the F train, which may impact the service to Roosevelt Island. Currently, essential track work is underway to enhance 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.

Shelton Haynes encapsulates this: “Our priority is always to enhance the quality of life for our residents on the island. I am thrilled that we worked closely with the MTA to ensure our facilities remain up-to-date, meeting the expectations of a forward-looking community.”

By embracing OMNY, Roosevelt Island’s tramway reinforces its commitment to progress, blending tradition with technology to improve the daily lives of its residents and visitors, ensuring that it remains a vital mode of transportation for years to come.


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