Monday, October 21, 2013

Second-year savings on Barclays Center operations: remote parking and shuttle buses axed (but what about cracking down on street parking violations?)

The original map for remote parking
The Wall Street Journal, in an article Saturday about how Barclays Center profits lag, quoted Forest City executives as saying "high expenses also stemmed from over-staffing events and adding services like shuttle buses to nearby neighborhoods—services that are slated to be cut back or eliminated now that executives have a better sense of how to run the arena."

We know they've talked about cutting back on staff -and, as I explain separately, they're not only reducing low-level employees, it also looks like the top guy is gone.

But what about those shuttle buses? They were supposed to deliver arena-goers who chose cheaper remote parking, located in lots a mile away near Atlantic Avenue and Boerum Place in Downtown Brooklyn.

But they were hardly used, and now they're gone..

What happened to remote parking?

That's confirmed by a look at the Barclays Center parking module, as indicated in the graphic below.

The only lots that are part of the parking module are within a ten-minute walk of the arena (though surely people who want to park at those remote lots can simply show up and buy a space, rather than pre-pay online).

Currently available parking facilities
It's hard to fault the arena for dropping remote parking and the shuttle buses, as a business decision. As the report last June by Forest City Ratner transportation consultant Sam Schwartz showed, the buses and parking were barely used.

Then again, the remote parking wasn't used not because drivers overwhelmingly chose the closer-in parking.

It was because a larger share of people walked, arena attendance was smaller than projected, more took public transit, and--crucially--a good number of those who drove sought free parking on local streets.

What was required

According to the December 2009 Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments that Forest City Ratner signed with Empire State Development, the arena developer was supposed to:
(a) provide remote parking facilities (e.g., facilities located at MetroTech, Long Island Hospital or other appropriate facilities at the western end of Atlantic Avenue near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) containing an aggregate of at least 500 spaces at a 50 percent discount from rates for FCRC-controlled parking at or near the arena; 
(b) arrange for free shuttle bus service between the remote parking facilities described above and the arena;
After collecting data, "subject to ESDC approval, which approval shall not be unreasonably withheld, [Forest City] may adjust the elements of the program," the memo states. That's reasonable.

But wouldn't it also be reasonable to crack down on continued illegal parking and idling?
Changing parking rates

Last year, I published the parking rates, with service charge, for the first event at the arena, the 9/28/12 Jay-Z concert. There was supposed to be a 20% for HOV vehicles: 
  • 700 Pacific St.: $32.83 HOV; $41.04; $51.30 SUV
  • 253 Ashland Place: $20.52
  • 62 Rockwell Place: $20.50
  • 395 Flatbush Avenue: $15.05 HOV; $18.47
  • 300 Livingston St: $12.87 HOV; $15.59
  • 800 Union St.: $9.25 HOV; $11.06
  • 625 Atlantic Ave.: $36.94 HOV
Here are the rates for the 11/1/13 Nets home opener against the Miami Heat:
  • 752 Pacific (official lot): $39.20
  • 625 Atlantic: $40.32
  • 669 S Portland: $39.20; SUV: $56.00 
  • 700 Pacific: $39.20; SUV: $50.40
  • 63 Rockwell Place: $22.40
  • 470 Vanderbilt: $17.00
  • 180 Ashland: $15.00; SUV: $20.16
  • 470 Hudson: $20.16
  • 300 Livingston: $17.00
  • 103 DeKalb: $19.04
  • 525 Clinton: $22.40; SUV: $28.00 
  • 800 Union: $12.00 
This suggests rates are up slightly from last year in some cases. The official lot last year charged $25.65 for HOV, plus a $10 surcharge for cars--HOV or not--that were not prepaid. This year it looks about the same.

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