No new trains
after Nets games
If 19,000 cheering Nets fans come pouring out of an arena at the corner
of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues someday, the MTA is not going to add
service to help get them home.
The transit agency, which many hope will play a significant role in reducing
congestion resulting from Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards
mega-development, dropped this mini bombshell this week at Borough Hall,
where Borough President Markowitz, local elected officials and Community
Board chairs met to discuss Atlantic Yards issues.
The MTA refused to send a representative to the meeting, Markowitz said.
Instead, the agency sent over a statement outlining its plans for service
to and from Nets games at the Ratner arena.
“For Madison Square Garden, the regularly scheduled service is sufficient
for every typical event,” the agency said in a statement. “Madison
Square Garden is the ... model [for Nets game service] because it is about
the same size and situated on multiple lines.”
Brooklyn elected officials — some who support Ratner’s plan,
others who oppose it — could not disagree more.
“People who believe that Madison Square Garden is the same [as a
Brooklyn Nets arena] don’t know Brooklyn,” said Assemblywoman
Joan Millman (D-Park Slope).
Millman was most surprised by the MTA’s admission that it does not
add service before or after Knick games.
“How can they say their regular service is sufficient?” she
said. “That was very surprising to hear that.”
A spokesman for the MTA said he would let the agency’s statement
speak for itself.
The MTA’s statement also said that “buses are not a key component
of any service plan” after concerts and games at Madison Square Garden
— which also angered the Brooklyn contingent.
“How can they say that buses are not critical in Brooklyn?”
asked Shirley McRae, chairwoman of Community Board 2, which lies to the
north of the Atlantic Yards site.
McRae called on the MTA to include buses in the agency’s traffic
analyses of the area.
The borough’s elected officials have been meeting regularly to prepare
for the release of a draft environmental impact statement for the Ratner
project. The DEIS, which is expected to be completed next month, is supposed
to analyze existing conditions and offer mitigations for problems such
as traffic or litter that are caused by the project.
This week’s discussion on transit issues, combined with a similar
gathering earlier this month on traffic, suggest that much more work needs
to be done to convince local officials that the $3.5-billion Ratner project
will not put an even bigger cork in the Downtown Brooklyn bottleneck.
Fears about a permanent gridlock near the Atlantic-Flatbush intersection
prompted Forest City Ratner to announce this week that it’s talking
to a traffic consulting firm that specializes in getting fans to and from
Ratner had been prodded to hire the Florida-based firm, Gameday Management
Group, by Millman and Community Board 6.
Forest City Ratner is reportedly also working on a deal with the MTA to
give MetroCard discounts to Brooklyn Nets ticketholders to encourage them
to use mass transit on game days.
The New York Post reported this week that the idea is “being bounced
around by team brass … to quell community concern over the traffic
Although such a scheme might encourage mass transit useage, one transportation
expert said the Nets were giving the discount in “the wrong place.”
“You need to discount the [game] ticket by $10” to encourage
transit ridership, not discount MetroCards by $1, said Carolyn Konheim
of Community Consulting Services.
Her partner, Brian Ketcham, told the same elected officials earlier this
month that it’s time for New York City to bite the bullet and put
tolls on the East River bridges.
“All of the development that is going on downtown will add 100,000
more vehicle trips through the area every day, doubling the current traffic,”
Ketcham said. “The only way to alter the traffic patterns is to toll
Markowitz has said that “every alternative” should be considered
— except that one.
“Tolling those bridges is a non-starter — not gonna happen,”
he told The Brooklyn Papers. “It’s DOA. It’s an additional
tax on Brooklynites and, therefore, discriminatory.
“I don’t want to see it in the DEIS,” he continued. “The
state and the developer have hired great traffic consultants. They have
to be creative.”
The city’s Department of Transportation has offered little guidance.
In its Downtown Brooklyn Transportation Blueprint, which was released
in May, the agency foresaw gridlock after all the proposed and approved
development is completed.
“If future employees in projected office developments commute by
auto at rates near existing rates, [traffic] would not be accommodated
on the existing roadway network,” the report said. It concluded that
frustrated drivers would begin their commutes either before or after the
traditional “rush hour,” creating, in effect, rush hours that
last all morning and all afternoon.
“We want to make sure traffic flows as smoothly as possible,”
said FCR spokesman Joe DePlasco. .
Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010