Weaving memoir, policy analysis, and reportage with a light, Brooklynesque touch, Schwartz touches on the origins of "gridlock" (source of his "Gridlock Sam" nickname), congestion pricing, millennial preferences for urbanism, the prospects for driverless cars and Uber, and the success of cities like Zurich and Salt Lake City.
In other words, sometimes Schwartz the consultant can trump Schwartz the honest broker. (After all, Schwartz's firm is still earning money from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.)
Tracing it back
Schwartz and others knew it was a "terrific" location for public transit, given the 11 adjacent or nearby subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.
According to Sam Schwartz Engineering's own report on the first year at Barclays, some 24.3% of weeknight Nets attendees return to Manhattan, while 7.4% go to Queens, 6.8% to Nassau, and 3.2% to Suffolk. Fewer than 10% returned to New Jersey, some 675 to 1000 people fewer than originally projected.
Some 36.4% attendees come from Manhattan, about 1 in 7 of them them Brooklynites; 36.9% return home to Brooklyn, while 31.6% arrive from the Barclays Center's borough.
(Note that "considerable proportion" is a bit fuzzy.)
But if only some 20 percent switched, that means nearly 80 percent were not about to change their behavior.
The triumph, and the complexity
The impact of those driving is lower for two additional reasons: the vehicle occupancy ratio is higher than projected, and fewer drive at peak hours.
(Today's it's been plowed under for new construction and an eventual below-ground parking lot to serve both arenagoers and residents.)
But Schwartz and other responsible parties ignored my request for backup data that would show that most were paying as opposed to cruising for free spaces.
(Remember, early in the Atlantic Yards process Schwartz told the 12/5/05 Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, according to the meeting notes, "From a consultant’s perspective, you must satisfy your client, but you must maintain your objectivity.")
In other words, yes, the Barclays Center has the lowest percentage of people coming by car, as Schwartz stressed to Brooklyn Magazine. But it should, because it backs into a residential area, and the state had to override city zoning that requires a cordon around such facilities.
The true cost of parking
Of course arena developer Forest City Ratner has not pushed for such residential parking permits, nor has Schwartz said anything about pricing or allocating what is now free parking.
Ironically enough, Gridlock Sam, the much-lauded planner behind the innovative Move NY congestion pricing plan, knows that free access to public goods can induce unwise civic behavior.
The availability of free street parking has surely helped the Barclays Center avoid a parking lot. But it's not very street smart.