Home Asides Incentivizing transit ridership with…beer?

Incentivizing transit ridership with…beer?

by Benjamin Kabak

When the Nets new arena opens at the Atlantic Yards complex in a few years, it will bring with it traffic to a few of Brooklyn’s quieter residential neighborhoods. With Park Slope to the south, Prospect Heights to the east and Fort Greene to the north, the area doesn’t lend itself to the multitude of cars that will throng its streets on game days. Unfortunately, despite sitting atop one of the city’s busiest subway hubs and a Long Island Rail Road, the project will come with more parking than we’d like. To encourage mass transit use then, one advocate has proposed an idea for the masses: free beer.

At a Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council meeting held last week to attack the traffic problem, Ryan Lynch of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign called upon Forest City Ratner to subsidize a free beer for those who take the train to the game. “Give people a free beer. They’re not driving,” Lynch said. “There needs to be more incentives from the developer and events promoters to encourage event-goers to get on mass transit. You could show your Metrocard or LIRR ticket and get a discount at the concession stand.”

A spokesman for the developers issued a very spokesman-y statement. “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,” Joe DePlasco said. Ultimately, though, the Nets and Forest City Ratner should figure out a way to encourage transit use. Whether that includes supporting a residential parking permit program for the neighborhood’s streets or offering MetroCard- and LIRR-based discounts, driving to this arena should be discouraged. I’d drink to that.

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Boris December 12, 2010 - 12:45 pm

I think vodka shots and pickles would be more appropriate, considering that the team and arena owner is a Russian oligarch. But I’d settle for beer too.

digamma December 12, 2010 - 12:46 pm

Does Forest City Ratner own and make money off the parking facilities? They certainly don’t get a cut of train fares. That would seem to misalign the incentives.

Boris December 12, 2010 - 12:58 pm

Transportation options are a positive externality for Ratner. Without trains or parking lots (subsidized by the government in one way or another) he would have few people going to the games. So he does get a cut, it’s just that government’s incentives are set up in such a way that he gets more of a cut from parking than from transit.

Benjamin Kabak December 12, 2010 - 1:01 pm

I’ve had a tough time tracking down the answer to this, but I think FRC is responsible for building an entrance to Atlantic/Pacific from the plaza outside of the arena and for its upkeep. So in that sense, they have some responsibilities to transit. They won’t make money from it except as Boris noted above.

BoerumHillScott December 13, 2010 - 8:40 am

Yes, FCR is funding a new entrance on the arena block that will connect to the 2/3/4/5 platforms and the B/Q platforms.
Access to the D/N/R would be via the Brooklyn-bound 2/3 platform.

If you look at the construction site from the 2nd or 3rd floor of the mall across the street, you can clearly see the see the separate construction area for the station entrance.

Alon Levy December 12, 2010 - 1:55 pm

Any talk of incentives went down the drain when Ratner got the property for half what it’s worth, to be paid in installments over years.

clancy December 12, 2010 - 2:01 pm

Beer should be the answer to the MTA’s problems… as in bar cars on more trains, including the LIRR, at increased prices.

A bar car on the way to the city from long island on friday and Saturday nights would be very popular and could provide a great source of revenue. Not to mention on rush hour trains.

The DWI concerns can be dealt with by an increased police presence around the lots, especially with MTA police, who can be on patrol in the lots themselves checking riders.

Bolwerk December 12, 2010 - 3:14 pm

Beer should be liberated from state oversight anyway. Drinking beer is positive far more often than it’s problematic.

Meanwhile, if driving were a drug dependency, it’d have been banned long ago.

Nesta December 13, 2010 - 10:05 am

They need to lower the LIRR prices to the games if they want people to use it. For a fan on long island it will be ALOT easier and cheaper to drive a family to the game than to take the over priced LIRR

Al D December 13, 2010 - 10:52 am

I’m not sure I agree with the additional car clogging. I mean, absolutely, there is no doubt that before and after games and events, there would be increased traffic, but because of the street grid there, or lack thereof, traffic would remain on the already clogged major arteries of Atlantic, Flatbush and 4th Aves because, even with more traffic, those streets are the fastest, most direct routes in and out of the area. I don’t see much more traffic on the side streets.

Andrew December 16, 2010 - 8:45 pm

Wait a second. Possession of a MetroCard is proof that you didn’t drive to the game?!


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