Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
When the NY MTA agreed to sell the Atlantic Yards to Forest City Ratner to build the Barclays Arena and some 17 other buildings, the authority's board waxed enthusiastic about how the city was getting a new subway entrance out of the deal.
But so far, in the mornings, it's totally dead.
Pretty much every morning since the stop's been opened, for about three weeks -- and we've checked -- it looks like this. Seven am, 8 am, no one. A sort of strange, post-Apocalypse feel.
As we've been reporting, lots of fans are going to events at the arena by transit. The 18,000-seat arena has just 541 car spots on site, about 150 of those for season or VIP ticket-holders. Even last night, when Brooklyn-born Barbra Steisand performed, and drew a heavy crowd from the suburbs, people took the train.
The subway stop is set in a vast, uninviting plaza, with not much there to entice a morning subway rider, like newsstands or coffee-shops.
However, once you do cross Flatbush Avenue from Park Slope to get there, it is by far the cleanest and easiest way to enter the subway stop. Working escalators. Plenty of turnstiles. Tidy, well-lit hallways that don't smell (yet). And the shortest, least confusing ascent (or descent, in the case of the B-Q), from any entrance.
Word from transit officials: "Use It!"
Ratner, BTW, paid $76 million for the new subway entrance. But the whole deal with Ratner was heavily criticized at the time as a sweetheart deal for the developer, which was allowed to work with the MTA over a period of years to develop a bid to obtain the railyards for its arena.
Ratner offered $100 million less for the Yards than the rival developer -- but the MTA board argued that building a new subway entrance would in part compensate.
After much pressure, the MTA opened the bidding process for the rail yards to other developers, but then rejected the one other bid it got because it wasn't as detailed as Ratner's bid.