More Trains, But No Free MetroCards or RPP in Barclays Center Plan

The MTA will increase transit service to the Barclays Center on game nights, but Forest City Ratner won't be paying for that increased service or for discounted fares. Photo via ##

The MTA will be adding extra transit service on Barclays Center game nights. But past promises of free or discounted MetroCards for arena-goers did not materialize in the transportation demand management plan revealed yesterday by developer Forest City Ratner, which local advocates are calling “too little, too late.”

Under the plan to reduce the number of people who drive to the arena, developed by Sam Schwartz for Forest City, more 4 and Q trains will run at the end of a Nets game, according to Norman Oder at Atlantic Yards Report. LIRR trains will run from to Jamaica every 15 minutes, rather than every 25. Nine subway lines already run directly to the now-renamed Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center station.

Additionally, 541 parking spaces will be built on-site, fewer than half what had been planned earlier this year. The reduction in parking capacity will make driving to the site that much more difficult. Four-hundred bike parking spaces will be provided, but despite past promises from Forest City Ratner, they will not be indoors.

Beyond that, the transportation demand management plan focuses on marketing measures urging fans to take transit. The arena’s website, for example, tells those who look for information on where to park, “Parking at Barclays Center is very limited. We strongly recommend using public transportation.”

But the plan goes neither as far as the developer had promised, nor as far as arena neighbors and sustainable transportation advocates would like. “The plan released today doesn’t even include the free subway fare for Nets ticketholders promised in 2009,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and a member of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, in a press release. As recently as last year, free or discounted transit fares were being discussed by Forest City Ratner. Now it looks as if riders will have to pay full freight.

Slevin also pointed to the cost to the MTA of providing additional service on event nights. “The TDM assumes the public will bear the cost of adding transit capacity after arena events,” she said. “Instead, the developer should be paying for service enhancements.”

Such a contribution would surely be welcomed by the cash-strapped MTA. But asking taxpayers to pick up the tab for extra service fits the pattern in New York City, where new sports venues have not been asked to cover the cost of transit investments to serve their fans. The city and state picked up the $91 million cost of a new Metro-North station at Yankee Stadium, for example.

Many neighborhood groups resumed their call for residential parking permits around the arena area, saying the plan failed to provide sufficient disincentives to drive. “It’s time to put politics aside and do what’s necessary to implement meaningful demand management strategies—like residential parking permits—so that arena patrons will leave their cars at home,” said Jo Anne Simon, a Democratic district leader in the area.

The city Department of Transportation is currently studying the use of residential parking permits around the Barclays Center and Yankee Stadium, but the Bloomberg administration is opposed to a widespread implementation of the policy. Authorization for residential parking permits faces a tough fight the State Senate, where BNew York City Republicans Andrew Lanza and Marty Golden oppose them.

  • Guest

    It was a toss-in idea anyhow. I don’t care if they do or don’t give away free metrocards. It’ll cost a gallon of gas + $25 to park anyhow, so anyone who cares about money will use transit regardless. Also, metrocards won’t do much for the LIRR crowd.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Authorization for residential parking permits faces a tough fight the State Senate, where BNew York City Republicans Andrew Lanza and Marty Golden oppose them.”

    The Nets should encourage New Jersey drivers to park in residential areas of Bay Ridge and then take the train.

  • Ben Kintisch

    I’m guessing that local Brooklyn residents will walk, bike, or take the subway. Folks who drive, expecting endless parking like there is at Yankee Stadium or the Meadowlands will be in for a rude awakening, and will only make that mistake once.

  • CoolBeanz

    It’s time that Streetsblog admits that this project is as pro-urban, pro-transit and pro-cycling as feasibly possible, and will contribute to net gains in further developing New York City’s urban core.

    The arena is moving from a sprawling suburban region and moving into a transit rich and underutilized downtown area.  It will expand the city’s tax base and help subsidize the MTA through the payroll tax, therefore contributing as much to transit as any other business based in NYC.  And that isn’t even accounting for the other investments in the neighborhood that the arena would attract and will contribute to the tax base.

    It isn’t offering free MetroCards, but what business benefiting from NYC’s transit connectivity is?  The transit system, if anything, is an incentive for businesses to locate in the city core, therefore contributing to an urban community.

    The 400 bicycle spaces may not be indoors yet, but that arrangement is only temporary, as a permanent indoor facility will be constructed in a way that won’t be a major financial burden on the project.  It wouldn’t be feasible to build the permanent structure now before ground is broken for the over-head residential buildings, and the Nets are making a respectable compromise.

    Now this announcement about cutting the amount of planned parking spaces and “educating” the public on getting there by transit and cycling is icing on the cake.  That is much more than what projects of this magnitude typically offer.

  • Danae Oratowski

    “The reduction in parking capacity will make driving to the site that much more difficult.”
    Really? Later on in the power point (slide 28), Sam Schwartz also said that they did a new analysis of parking availability and found that there were”sufficient off street facilities to accommodate the cars shifted from on -site.”  There are more than 20 parking lots within walking distance of the arena that can accommodate all of the cars anticipated in the FEIS.  Sam Schwartz’s plan has done NOTHING to discourage driving.

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bike Share

    I am with Cool on this one.  Good to keep pressing for more but all in all this is a great move towards urbanism.

    I also don’t think that free metrocards will do much of anything other than give away something to people wealthy enough to spend $50-$750 for a night of entertainment.  If we are going to give away metrocards to get people out of cars, there are far better options.

  • J12

    The $4.50 cost of a roundtrip subway ride is not going to change many people’s minds regarding how they will get to events at the Barclays center.  Even at full price, subway remains much cheaper than any option involving a car, and furthermore is a fairly negligible part of the total cost of a typical night out at an NBA game or other arena event.

    What would really get more people to leave their cars at home and take the train would be running increased subway and LIRR service.

  • Eric McClure

    @730451928daf057a4fafea8c7b2abea1:disqus , would that “sprawling suburban region” be Newark, where the Nets have been playing in a brand-new, urban arena for the past two years?  Probably the last thing New York City needed to spend money on was another publicly subsidized pro sports facility — and the arena alone is costing taxpayers at least $726 million, according to the New York City Independent Budget Office.  And eight-and-a-half years after announcing the project, Bruce Ratner isn’t close to breaking ground on the first bit of housing.  Meanwhile, the Fifth Avenue Committee, a real, actual developer of affordable housing, has built and filled a residential building right across the street from Ratner’s hole in the ground (and Atlantic Terrace is a project that was announced several years after Atlantic Yards).  Let’s also not forget that Ratner, thanks to a politically wired backroom deal, is paying the MTA a fraction of the Vanderbilt Yards’ appraised value.  Given all the tax breaks that have been thrown at the project, it will be several decades before the deal begins contributing anything to the MTA.  ANd let’s not skip over the irrefutable evidence that arenas and stadiums fail time and again to generate any net positive economic benefits.

    If Atlantic Yards is “as pro-urban, pro-transit and pro-cycling as feasibly possible,” then our urban future is shockingly grim.

  • CoolBeanz

    Eric McClure, your argument doesn’t discredit the fact that Barclay’s Center is pro-urban.  The Prudential Center was only a temporary home until they moved to Brooklyn; their real home was in the sprawling Meadowlands and the Prudential Center was largely built to keep them from moving to Brooklyn’s downtown area, to little avail.  And even still, the Atlantic Yards area has much better transit connectivity than Newark does, and will contribute more to developing the New York metropolitan area’s urban core.

    And yeah there were subsidies involved, but that is the price to pay to obtain such an amenity as a national sports team.  National sports team play huge roles in marketing and branding their hometowns, and that impact is very difficult to measure.  Just like Barclay’s Bank is paying to have their brand marketed by the team, the city should pay something as well.

    And despite the understandable subsidies it got from the city, the Barclay’s Center still has to pay the payroll tax to the MTA that all other businesses pay.


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