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N.Y. Trams Investigated After Outage

April 20, 2006|From Newsday

NEW YORK — The Roosevelt Island Tramway suspended service indefinitely Wednesday as city and state officials began an investigation into what caused an electrical outage that left 68 people trapped for nearly 12 hours hundreds of feet above the East River.

On Tuesday, police and fire officials pulled off a daring open-air rescue. But troubling questions remained about why three of four electrical systems designed to power the trams remained inoperable Wednesday and why it took so long to bring the stranded riders to safety.

"I'm sure that the people would have liked to be taken down quickly," said New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who praised the joint efforts of police and fire officials and called the rescue a "classic city operation."

"We did what we had to do to get everyone down safely."

The power outage occurred moments after two tram cars -- one heading to Roosevelt Island with 47 aboard and the other traveling to Manhattan with 21 people -- began their five-minute swing over the East River.

Not only did the tramway's primary electrical system fail, but also a backup diesel hydrostatic drive, said Herbert E. Berman, president of the firm that runs the tram.

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