Idle threat: Downtowners upset at Ikea shuttle

Idle threat: Downtowners upset at Ikea shuttle
The Brooklyn Paper / Alex Alvarez

It’s become a bus-aster at Borough Hall.

Residents of Downtown and Brooklyn Heights are enraged that the IKEA shuttle buses, once promised to load and unload passengers on Joralemon Street near Court Street every 15 minutes from 10 am to 10 pm, are instead idling three-deep and blowing thick plumes of diesel exhaust into the air.

“IKEA was told [they] can use this as a shuttle stop — but a stop, not a layover,” said Community Board 2 District Manager Rob Perris. “If it’s a layover, shut your engine off. These guys are just letting their engines run. It’s not good.”

When the IKEA in Red Hook opened in June, the city allowed its shuttle buses to pick-up and drop-off passengers at three spots in Brooklyn with the strict caveat that there would be no layovers.

Instead, just the opposite has happened on Joralemon Street, a narrow sluice for busses moving between Fulton Mall and Court Street.

At the stop, which is between Borough Hall and the Municipal Building, multiple buses sit in a designated bus lane and wait for more passeng () ers to arrive instead of moving along. As a result, city buses cannot unload passengers in those bus lanes and are forced to stop in the middle of the street, creating even more traffic jams behind them.

The problem of the IKEA busses has become exacerbated by the unrelated elimination of left turns from Adams Street onto Tillary Street. Drivers wanting to make those lefts now must turn onto Joralemon Street, which is seeing more congestion as a result.

IKEA’s Red Hook store manager Mike Baker said the company has only recently become aware of the situation.

“We have since been in contact with the company that operates the service for IKEA and have made it clear that this was designed to be a pick-up and drop-off point only and that no buses should be idling at Borough Hall,” he said.

Prompted by residents’ heath, safety, and traffic concerns, the Community Board has written a letter to the Department of Transportation, and the parties are now discussing solutions for the problem, Perris said.

“We’re all going to be monitoring it,” Perris said. “Since I think IKEA is doing a good thing by offering these shuttles, I think they can clean up their act before someone has to raise the hammer.”

IKEA also has shuttle stops at Smith and Ninth streets in Carroll Gardens and Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in Park Slope.