Take the train to a Nets game — and get a free beer!
It’s one idea being floated by transportation advocates as an incentive to get future Barclays Center ticketholders to take the subway and regional rail to the arena instead of driving and parking on congested Prospect Heights and Fort Greene streets.
“Give people a free beer — they’re not driving!” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Ryan Lynch.
Lynch, invited by the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council to present suggestions for easing traffic at Atlantic Yards, demanded that the arena’s developer, Forest City Ratner, commit to subsidize mass transit for game nights such as including mass transit fares into ticket prices and urging additional trains on game nights.”
“There needs to be more incentives from the developer and events promoters to encourage event-goers to get on mass transit,” said Lynch. “You could show your Metrocard or LIRR ticket and get a discount at the concession stand.”
A spokesman for Forest City Ratner said that the company would be open to considering a variety of alternate transit plans, though he wouldn’t commit to free beer (damn him!).
“We’re working on a fully integrated transportation plan that will look at a variety of ways of using mass transit instead of driving to the arena on game nights or event nights,” said the spokesman, Joe DePlasco.
Thousands of cars will flood streets surrounding the Atlantic Yards footprint on game nights — which has alarmed residents concerned about traffic and pedestrian safety after games.
And Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Avenue are among the most dangerous streets in Brooklyn — so far this year there have been nine fatalities on Atlantic Avenue and six on Fourth Avenue in the past year, Lynch said.
A new parking lot built by Forest City will contain 1,100 parking spaces, but residents insisted that other measures need to be taken to prevent thousands more cars circling around the neighborhood’s side streets for temporary parking or encourage fans to abandon their cars entirely.
The obvious solution is an expansion of subway, rail and bus service on game days, but activists don’t believe that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will add capacity.
“It’s an inconsistency,” said Atlantic Yards activist Lucy Koteen. “This is a mass transit development that’s by the train, but trains and buses are being cut, and they make these gigantic parking lots. Clearly people are going to drive.”
Councilwoman Tish James (D–Fort Greene) has floated a number of ideas to calm traffic in the low-rise neighborhood that surrounds the Barclays Center, which is under construction near the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
She has floated the idea of expanded medians, new pedestrian street plazas, crossing lights that count down and synchronized traffic lights.
“We’ve had a number of accidents at Atlantic Avenue and a few cyclists killed and some terrible car accidents,” said James. “I’ve attended a number of funerals and memorials. [Any solution] must include cyclists.”
Other proposals include a new residential permit parking system to discourage out-of-neighborhood Nets fans from driving to the games, park-and-ride programs, East River bridge tolls, ferry service from Staten Island, and even new bicycle racks on Atlantic Avenue.
Construction at the arena began in earnest late last month when the building’s first steel girders rose on the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue. The project is expected to be completed by summer 2012.