The big red box is coming to the Big Apple. On Tuesday, POMA will open a 110-person tram to connect Roosevelt Island with 59th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan. The two cars operate on separate cables with different engines over the 3,140-foot span, to reduce wait times during breakdowns and routine maintenance. The last breakdown of the previous tram—built by Swiss company Von Rol—in April, 2006, left 69 people stranded over the East River for seven hours as passengers were lowered to safety.
More than 26 million people have ridden the tramway between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan since the first one opened in 1976. The urban tram was the first in North America, and has been followed by many since. Branching out from its alpine roots, POMA has built 16 urban trams in recent years in cities like Paris, Quito, London and Taipei—to solve mass transit issues in cities with dense populations. The French company is also entering the renewable energy market, designing a wind turbine farm in Aspen, Colorado, that could someday power the entire resort.
For now, POMA's Chairman of the Board, Jean Souchal, says, POMA is celebrating the opening of New York's iconic red box.
"The technological innovations [of the Aerial Tram of Roosevelt Island] were made in order to meet the high demands of an urban transportation system that operates in severe weather conditions and for 20 hour per day for the entire year," Souchal said. "The [tram] demonstrates to the entire world that cable transportation is totally aligned with the global evolution of mass transportation, allowing safe and comfortable commuting for all."