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Free MetroCard plan for Barclays Center arena $crapped

Posted by Gold_12TH on Tue May 22 20:56:28 2012

Officials have scrapped a plan to give free MetroCards to patrons at the new Nets arena to discourage them from driving.

Developer Forest City Ratner had vowed to give free subway fares to fans who would otherwise drive, but officials dropped that idea from a transportation plan presented Tuesday - saying it wouldn’t make any difference in preventing a traffic mess.

Instead, they’ll focus on promoting the convenience of mass transit - printing information about the 11 subway lines that go to the site on every ticket and ad for the arena, and vowing to “scare” visitors away from driving. The MTA will also increase service after games.

Many advocates say that isn’t enough and criticized the developer for dropping the free fares.

“You sort of have to follow the money. That was a tangible contribution they were going to make to get people to ride transit, and that’s fallen by the wayside,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “I think that’s kind of outrageous.”

FCR traffic consultant Sam Schwartz said surveys of potential arena goers found the free fares wouldn’t make a difference - and there was no way to make sure the MetroCards were actually used to get to the game.

“We find that the people who were driving to the arena, what they were facing was a $30 charge for parking versus a $2.50 MetroCard. Giving them the free MetroCard was not the incentive” Schwartz said.

“We will scare drivers away from the arena,” he said. “I will be advising people on opening day, don’t even think about driving to the Jay-Z concert.”

MTA officials say they will add additional subway trains after games, have “wildcat” buses available to fill gaps, and add Long Island Rail Road shuttle service.

Arena developers have also cut the size of their on-site parking lot in half, to 541 spots. There will be another 612 spots in parking lots near the Brooklyn Queens Expressway where drivers will board shuttle buses to the arena, and there are about 20 private parking lots near the site.

But critics say without more drastic measures like residential parking permits - a proposal that has made little progress in Albany - the plan would not head off a traffic mess.

“I believe that cars will flood our residential streets and take over parking,” said City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Prospect Heights), adding dropping the free fares was a bad move. “Economics would go a long way in dissuading individals from driving...They should honor that commitment, period.”



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