Local residents attend a meeting about traffic around the Barclays Center.
Since the Barclays Center opened its door, there is no disputing it has brought more cars to the area. However, a recent Transportation Demand Management (TDM) report reveals there are fewer vehicles related to arena activities than originally expected.
The report, released last week, shows, for example, that two-thirds of Nets fans are either using mass transit or walking to the Barclays Center.
Developer Forest City Ratner praised an initiative urging people to use public transportation or bicycles to get to the arena for the less-than-expected vehicular traffic.
In the environmental impact statement (FEIS) in 2006, the goal was to no more than 27.8 percent of visitors arrive by private car. The report showed that only 25.1 percent were actually getting to the arena by car, while close to 60 percent use mass transit.
It was found that 25.1 percent were using that mode of transportation. The study also found that 59.6 percent of arrivals took place by using mass transit and 55.9 percent used that mode to depart from the area.
Along with visitors, the study showed roughly 80 percent of arena employees use mass transit or walk.
Sam Schwartz of Sam Schwartz Engineering worked on the transportation issue as part of the FEIS in 2006. He said one of the more controversial ideas was to reduce the amount of parking spaces at the arena.
In the early phases of the plan, 1,100 spaces were going to be provided for cars. However, that number was cut in half to discourage people from driving.
“We were greeted with a lot of skepticism when we proposed slashing the parking in half before the arena even opened,” said Schwartz. “But it turned out to be a good thing for us to say to people ‘don’t even think of driving to this arena.’”
The only event that came the close to using all of 541 parking spaces at the arena was an Andrea Bocelli concert. But even for that event, there were still close to 100 empty parking spots.
However, not everyone is interpreting the study the same way.
“The fact that they met their obligation under a terrible FEIS is not a success for this community,” said Terrace Urban. “You can make statistics say anything you want.”
Steve Ettlinger lives a few blocks from the Barclays Center and says there needs to be more regulation and enforcement.
He said a big problem is that limousines and other luxury vehicles double park and circle the area, dropping people off and waiting to pick them up. Representatives from Forest City Ratner blamed the city, saying they have requested additional traffic enforcement agents, but have been ignored.
“This is not about me being able to park my car,” Ettlinger said. “This is about the law being applied.”
One night Ettlinger walked around the Barclays Center during an event and found over 100 violations, including 16 cars waiting in one bus stop.
“It shouldn’t be up to me to find them,” he said. “It’s so obvious, but it somehow slipped through the cracks.”