This post is a guide to riding the Roosevelt Island Tram, which some might refer to as a cable car or gondola, including tips on where to board and when to go. And the trip costs the same as a ride on the subway.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
The Roosevelt Island Tram provides a skyline view of the city like no other. In this section, we will provide details on the best times to go, where you can find the tram station, how to get tickets and other tips.
Best Times to Go
Your experience on the Roosevelt Island Tram is going to vary depending on when you decide to hop on. If you’re planning to go simply to visit the island or enjoy the view, there are both good and bad times to make your trip. With that said, let’s take a look at the hours of operation.
Roosevelt Island Tram Hours
- Sunday – Thursday | 6 am – 2 am
- Friday – Saturday | 6 am – 3:30 am
- There is a tram every 15 minutes except during rush hours when there is one every few minutes. The bus schedule on Roosevelt Island mirrors the Tram schedule.
Although it’s available pretty much all day, visitors who are looking to experience the views or see the island may want to hop on when the crowds aren’t as big.
During weekdays, commuters will use this tram for getting to and from work in the mornings and evenings. As a result, you can expect these hours to be especially busy on weekdays.
The thing is that most commuters are traveling from Roosevelt Island to Manhattan in the morning rush hour. If you plan to roam Roosevelt Island for an hour or two, you can disregard this.
However, if you only intend to ride the gondola from Manhattan during the day and come right back, it’s best to make this round trip between the hours of 10 am – 3 pm.
Travelers who want to see the skyline at night should have no trouble getting a good view pretty much anytime from 7 pm – 2 am. In fact, the tram is one of our picks for free things to do at night.
With that said, it’s still possible to get good views during rush hours, but it will be crowded in one direction or the other.
Weekend hours are a bit different because there isn’t as much of a rush from commuters. Instead of avoiding morning and evening hours, you will actually want to consider making your trip during these times to avoid large crowds during weekends.
If you want a daytime view, consider a trip in the morning before 10 am. For excellent sunset views, head out on the tram at 7 pm instead.
Travelers who have been on this tram before recommend taking a sunset trip for the best views of the New York City skyline. If you want to enjoy this experience without worrying about the crowds, we recommend planning a weekend outing.
If you want to see the sunset during a weekday, remember that the sun sets during rush hour approximately between November and March. During these months, we recommend planning your return trip from Roosevelt Island to coincide with sunset. Check NYC sunset times.
TIP: The boarding station is just a 6 min subway ride from the starting point of our Central Park Tour and a 12 min ride from the start of our Midtown Manhattan Tour, both of which can be taken anytime as GPS-enabled audio tours.
How to Get Tickets
Tickets for the Roosevelt Island Tram can be purchased at vending machines which you will find at the Tram stations.
Alternatively, you can also purchase a MetroCard for use on NYC Metro lines. For more information, make sure to check our ticket prices section and our post about how to use the NYC Metro system.
Where to Board?
The Manhattan station of the Roosevelt Island Tram is located on 2nd Ave. between 59th and 60th Streets. The closest New York City subway stations are 59th Street (4,5,6 trains), Lexington Ave/59th Street (N,Q,R trains).
The station is also within walking distance from the Lexington Ave/53rd Street Station (E,M trains). There are several bus lines that also run up and down 2nd Ave.
We recommend using this Google map for directions to the Manhattan station of the Roosevelt Island Tram.
If you are considering a ticket for a tour bus, keep in mind that most companies offer stops relatively close to the tram. Be sure to read our post comparing the different bus tours in NYC.
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