Skip to main content

Times exclusive on arena transportation results says driving is down, but key is less subway than walking/limos; where do people park?; number of NJ fans has declined

See follow-up based on public presentation and neighbors' critiques.

Before the meeting tonight (pending questions) on the Barclays Center Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, I asked if the report or any of the backing data would be made public beforehand.

I didn't even get an answer.

But the reason is clear. Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing/enabling Atlantic Yards, is  happy to let Forest City Ratner leak/place the study with cooperative media outlets.

So, the news is that fewer people drive to the arena, but--contrary to a New York Times exclusive--that's not simply because Forest City Ratner reduced on-site parking and promoted public transportation.

The study also indicates that more people walk and take taxis/car services. (Unmentioned, apparently, is the persistent problem of idling and illegally parking black cars/limos.)

And there's no explanation regarding a lingering issue: if few people use the on-site parking garage, how many park free in the neighborhood, and what are the impacts?

The study does, in a backhanded way, undermine one of the selling points for state subsidies for the arnea: the arena would lure spenders across the arena from New Jersey.

Fewer cars than expected, but why?

Today New York Times transportation reporter Matt Flegenheimer has an exclusive, headlined online At Barclays Center Events, Fewer Cars Than Expected.

Note that the print headline was the much more misleading "Barclays Center Parking Lot Rarely Fills Up."

Also, the photo/caption was rather dopey, given that it pictured not the usually empty bike parking lot at the southeast corner of the arena block but the CitiBike station northwest of the arena.

The key paragraphs:
At a typical Brooklyn Nets weekday game, a quarter of the fans arrive by private car; more than half take the subway. The third most popular mode of travel is walking (6.9 percent), which outpaces the Long Island Rail Road (6 percent), taxis or car services (5.7 percent) and city buses (1.1 percent).
More than a year after Samuel I. Schwartz, a traffic engineering expert, recommended cutting the number of proposed parking spaces from 1,100 to about 540 — to discourage driving — the figures suggest that car use has been even lower than had been projected.
In fact, Mr. Schwartz said that so far, only eight events, including concerts by Barbra Streisand, Justin Bieber and Andrea Bocelli, had filled even half of the on-site parking spaces.
“Nobody had ever achieved the numbers that we were projecting,” Mr. Schwartz said in an interview on Wednesday. “Not even Madison Square Garden.”
The goal was to reduce car share to 28.3% on weeknights, and it appears they met it.

What changed? Walking and taxis

The arena is in the section at right;
the first number is inbound, the second outbound
It seems that subway usage is not up hugely, but rather that more people take taxis and walk.

According to Chapter 12, Traffic and Parking, of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement, there were supposed to be 14,894 (1,529 + 13,365) people arriving inbound to the arena between 5-6 pm and 7-8 pm. (Note that 6-7 pm was not analyzed.)

Of those inbound visitors, 5,183 were expected to arrive by car. The number now is closer to 3,750, or 25% of 15,000.

Of the 14,894, 7,402, or nearly half, were expected to take the subway. So that percentage is close to the 50+% figure in the recent results (without analyzing the 6-7 pm hour).

So where's the big discrepancy? In 2006, the projection was that 1,147 people, or 7.7% of the total, would take the LIRR. That number is now 6%, a modest change.

However, initially only 447 people, or 3%, were expected to arrive by taxi. Now that number is 5.7%.

And only 402 people, or 2.7%, were expected to walk. Now the number is 6.9%. So Brooklynites have boosted the arena.

Where does parking go?

What goes unexamined in the article, however, is whether there's a direct connection between reducing the sole on-site parking lot by 560 spaces--where parking costs $25-$35--and less driving.

After all, if 25% of 15,000 people take the car, that's 3,750 people, or 1500 cars at 2.5 people/car. They have to park somewhere.

And Barclays Center ticketholders are offered the use of numerous other facilities in the arena, including remote ones, that cost less. (See graphic at right.)

How much are those facilities used? Or do they just get free parking on the street, as many frustrated area residents observe? (That's why many residents want residential permit parking.)

Other factors

The Times notes that other factors have reduced driving: Nets attendance, rather than the once-projected 18,000, is actually closer to 15,000, thanks to no-shows, and only 56%, rather than the once-projected 75%, arrived one hour before the game.

Fewer New Jersey fans = less NYS tax revenues

The article unwittingly undermines one of the key calculations regarding Forest City Ratner consultant Andrew Zimbalist's estimates of new city and especially state tax revenue from the arena, arguments that led Forest City and government partners to argue for the arena.

Zimbalist in 2005 estimated that 67.9% of Nets season-ticketholders lived in new Jersey, and that 51% of the rest of attendees were from New Jersey. So that makes a blended total of 55-57%.

Zimbalist then assumed that 30% of then-Nets fans would go to Brooklyn. (Such figures also influenced other analyses, such as that of the New York City Independent Budget Office.)

However, the Times reported:
Only about 8 percent of fans came from New Jersey, the Nets’ former home, which came as a relief to Mr. Schwartz.
“One of our concerns was if they really had very loyal fans,” he said, “we would have had a lot of people who could have come from car-oriented communities,” he said. “That didn’t occur.”
No one at the Times Metro Desk remembers Zimbalist, I'm sure, and Flegenheimer was still in high school in 2005.

Presumably many of those New Jersey fans also took public transit.

Impact on retail

Forest City placed another story based on this report, with the Wall Street Journal, Barclays Arena Gives some Assist to Retailers: But Impact Is Often Limited and Depends on the Event; Concert-Goers Spend More:
According to the results of fan surveys commissioned by arena developer Forest City Ratner Cos., an average of 2,675 arena-goers are spending money at local businesses before or after weekday Nets games. For weekend games, that number rises to 3,470.
"I can tell you both personally and professionally I have seen a great impact on the local businesses," says Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. "You go into any restaurant or bar before or after a game or concert and they're packed."
Still, area businesses say that doesn't always translate into an increase in sales. "Even if there's no activity going on at Barclays, I tend to maintain my same numbers," says Andre Jordan, one of the owners of Die Koelner Bierhalle, a German beer hall that opened in August on St. Marks Place. Mr. Jordan says that the bar's core clientele is residents in surrounding neighborhoods like Park Slope and Boerum Hill.
On event nights, "my customers who would normally have come in will look and say, 'It's too busy in there, let's find some other place,'" Mr. Jordan says.
Others see a greater effect. At El Viejo Yayo on Fifth Avenue, manager Geronimo Diaz says that Barclays has helped boost business at the Latin restaurant to prerecession levels. On an event night, roughly 15% of its customers are Barclays-goers.
One commenter on Brownstoner stated:
The impact is super, super local. Over on Vanderbilt Ave, two restaurants hoping to profit from the arena are already out of business. People won't walk that far -- or aren't familiar enough with the area to even know where Vanderbilt is: "
Neil deMause's deadpan take in Field of Schemes, Brooklyn arena helps local businesses, also doesn’t help local businesses:
The basic problem here is the but-for factor: When you build a sports arena in an already-booming neighborhood — and Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights was about as booming as you could get, complete with an artisanal mayonnaise store — it’s hard to tell whether all the foot traffic came for the arena, or was there anyway. Or whether the arena traffic displaced the usual traffic, as Jordan told the WSJ: “My customers who would normally have come in will look and say, ‘It’s too busy in there, let’s find some other place.’”


  1. Anonymous8:07 PM

    I went to the Paul McCartney concert the other night and was amazed how none of the MTA escalators were not working. Major train entrances during a sold out show roped off by MTA. This lead to pedesterian gridlock and annoyance that a major hub during a sold out show couldn't have their major train hub working correctly

    1. I'm assuming you mean none of the escalators were operating. But it *may* not have been a mechanical failure. They sometimes rope off part of the stairs, at least, to narrow the number of people entering the platforms.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed--but not yet approved--shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).


Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…