Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Evaluating the arena transportation plan based on AY Watch's list of questions: lots of unknowns remain (hence push for more in Neighborhood Protection Plan)

Today, at a press conference, community groups involved in Atlantic Yards Watch (Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the Park Slope Civic Council, and the Boerum Hill Association) will, along with local elected officials, unveil the Neighborhood Protection Plan.

The goal? Address issues ignored by Forest City Ratner in its release of the draft Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, as well as other arena-related issues not yet addressed.

I've already pointed out unresolved issues in the TDM plan and would remind readers that the issue that's generated the greatest concern is the protection of residential streets from those seeking free on-street parking.

But let me evaluate it based on the list of questions posed by Atlantic Yards Watch before its release. Below, I've reproduced the meat of the questions, with my scorecard in italics. Lots of questions remain unresolved.

Text below from Atlantic Yards Watch. Text in italics from AYR.

Extent of TDM

1. Does the TDM program apply to all arena events at all times of day? No. Only "large" events, and clearly not small events drawing under 5,000 people. But it's unclear what the cut-off for "large is: 8.000? 10,000? 12,000? 15,000?
The required TDM only covers Nets Games, (less than 20% of the 225 projected arena events), and the HOV requirement is in effect only after 5 PM. What is FCRC doing to implement an effective TDM Program for all Barclays Center events? It will go beyond Nets games, but not clear how far.
Why should the HOV requirement not also apply to daytime events, especially on Saturdays and Sundays? There was no discussion of the timeframe. Presumably when the draft is revised this will be discussed.

Performance goals

2. Setting of real performance goals.
What goals has FCRC established for the percentage of arena patrons who will (a) use private vehicles or taxis to get to Barclays Center and (b) use satellite parking lots? There are goals for number of drivers, though not necessarily broken down in this form. The satellite parking lots will have at least 612 spaces. Presumably we will get reports on use percentage.
How does the TDM address taxi usage? So far all we know is that post-event taxis will queue on the north side of Atlantic Avenue. We don't even know how many spaces there would be and what kind of back-up it would cause.
How does the TDM deal with displacement of vehicles beyond the 1/2 mile radius to parking garages in downtown Brooklyn, potentially resulting in congestion in that area while not reducing the number of vehicles on the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, the BQE, or north Flatbush Avenue. This was not addressed in the draft plan.


Parking

3. Parking controlled by FCRC.
What are the opening and closing times for Block 1129 [onsite, bounded by Dean and Pacific streets and Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues] parking and the satellite lots? This was not mentioned.
What are the plans for the Block 1129 lot: access/egress routes, location of curb cuts, landscaping, screening etc? The main access/egress would be (privatized) Pacific Street, with secondary access/egress along residential Dean Street, and egress on Vanderbilt Avenue. The exterior will be landscaped and screened, but the interior will not be landscaped. The parking lot, officials say, need not conform to city landscaping regulations.
Will the number of HOV reserved spaces, an incentive to carpool, be reduced? Unclear. They have been reduced onsite, and relocated to off-site garages.
What type of users (such as HOV and VIP) will have access to the Block 1129 parking spaces? Not quite clear. VIP users, including 150 spaces reserved for suiteholders, will have access to Block 1129. It seems like HOV users will not have access.
Will they all be pre-reserved to eliminate queuing upon entering? Yes.
What measures will be in place on the lot to prevent queuing on adjacent residential streets? Beyond reservations and pre-payment, it's not clear what other measures are contemplated. Stay tuned.
What type of users have been displaced from Block 1129 parking and where are they going to park? Not clear, but some contractors may have been using the lot.

Local streets

4. Protection of local streets.
Bruce Ratner recently announced 800 employees may work some events. How many are expected to drive to work and where will they park? They are expected to take public transit.
Will FCRC, ESDC and NYC DOT support establishment of an arena parking tax surcharge, with the tax revenues flowing to The City of New York? No one brought this up.
What will FCRC, ESDC and NYCDOT do to restrict arena patrons from parking on residential and commercial streets near the arena? Nothing beyond exhorting people not to drive.
Will FCRC, ESDC and NYC DOT support the creation of a Residential Parking Permit program in the neighborhoods near the arena? Forest City and ESDC stayed away from this, which is blocked in the legislature by Southern Brooklyn legislators like state Sen. Marty Golden, an Atlantic Yards supporter. NYC DOT is still studying the issue.

Follow-up: monitoring and enforcement

5. On-going monitoring and enforcement.
Will FCRC monitor and report on its TDM activities at least annually? There are two studies in the first year. After that, unclear.
Will ESDC require that FCRC establish on-going performance goals? Not yet.
Will ESDC require TDM evaluation and adjustments on an ongoing basis? So far, there will be an evaluation in the first year.
Will ESDC impose penalties for the failure to meet goals? No mention of this yet.

Follow-up: data collection

6. Stronger data collection.
Will FCRC agree to additional data collection [beyond Nets fans] including but not limited to: the number of cars parking on local streets; the level of service at intersections, crosswalks and sidewalks; the number of riders on transit; and number of users of satellite parking lots? No mention of this yet.

Transit incentives

7. Effective transit incentives.
What is FCRC doing to “bundle” free transit fares with arena tickets so that the transit swipes are not available to persons other than arena ticketholders and not available except for travel to and from the ticketed event? This was dropped as not feasible and also not effective. However, it would save Forest City Ratner $2 million to $3 million a year.
What discounts will be extended to LIRR and Metro-North fares? Nothing mentioned.
What transit and commuter rail service enhancements are being implemented? Increased subways after events, as well as more frequent LIRR trains after events.
Will LIRR operate trains out of Atlantic Terminal after 12 midnight? If needed, though that's not yet planned.
Who is paying for the transit incentives? The public agencies, apparently. One big question is whether this is a net cost to the public or not. Forest City consultant Sam Schwartz suggested it might not be. The public agencies were silent. Given that many if not most of the attendees will have unlimited ride MetroCards, transit access adds no net cost. Perhaps Brooklyn Assemblyman Jim Brennan, who chairs the Corporations Committee, could look into this.


Shuttles and buses

8. Utilization of shuttle and other buses.
The MEC requires FCRC to establish at least 500 parking spaces near the Atlantic Avenue/BQE interchange and 2 park-and-ride lots in Staten Island.
Where will these or other remote lots being established? Along Atlantic Avenue. The Staten Island lots were dropped as not feasible, given that it would be tough for attendees to return to the lots during the event if they had to leave early.
Will these operate for all events? Not clear.
How many shuttle and other buses will be arriving on the arena block in the pre and post event hour? Not clear.
Where are the bus drop-off and pick-up locations on the arena block? Along Atlantic Avenue.
Where will shuttle buses and other buses be parked during events? Not certain, but possibly in Red Hook, or along Pacific Street next to the parking lot.

Bike access

9. Bicycle incentives.
Why should FCRC not establish an attended, covered bike parking facility on the arena block? There will be a facility that is attended during Nets games. It won't be covered. Presumably a tent would not be costly.
Will security personnel monitor the outdoor bike parking FCRC is proposing? Will security coverage apply to all events? Yes for Nets games and perhaps other large events.
How will FCRC protect cyclists who are riding adjacent to the Dean Street lay-by lane? Unclear.
What is the recommended north/south route to the bicycle parking area? Unclear.

Cross-marketing

10. Cross-marketing plan.
The MEC requires FCRC to develop a plan to "cross-market with area businesses to encourage ticketholders to patronize local restaurants and stores before and after games.” However, cross-marketing efforts might induce people to drive to the arena if they end up arriving or leaving the neighborhood when shuttle buses are not running or public transit is less frequent at night.
What is the scope of the cross-marketing plan with respect to its geographic range and time frame? Unclear. The plan is under development.
How will the planners ensure that cross-marketing efforts don't undermine other TDM measures - such as the use of transit, shuttles or satellite parking? Unclear. The plan is under development.
How will marketing opportunities be priced to ensure that a wide array of businesses are included? Unclear. The plan is under development.
Will additional shuttle or public transit service be provided along Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in the post-event hours? The MTA can add buses if necessary, but says it does not yet see the need.

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