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Transportation Nation

Counting the Jay-Z Subway Crowd

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

We've gotten questions about how we crunched New York City subway turnstile data for the opening of the Barclays Center. WNYC's senior editor for data news explains all in this post for the station's data news blog, which we've reprinted below.

(John Keefe - New York, NY, WNYC) Saturday morning we did something fun: We counted the number of people who took the subway to the opening-night Jay-Z concert at Brooklyn's new Barclays Center the night before.

Or at least got pretty close.

Traffic and transit were closely watched for the new arena, as the 19,000 or so concertgoers would have just 541 parking spaces. So we decided to grab data from subway turnstiles to measure the crowds leaving the Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center station for the show.

How we did it

Turning around the data overnight took a little planning. Here's how we pulled it off:

Every Saturday morning, the MTA posts turnstile data for the previous week. Fortunately for us, the last reading is 8 p.m. Friday, the scheduled start time for the concert.

The data files contain the entry and exit counter readings for each turnstile in the system as a sort of "odometer" reading. The data is a little tricky to use, though it does have a regular structure.

So Steve Melendez, our Data News Team programmer, wrote some Python code that grabs the data files and puts the individual readings into a SQLite database. He then sorted the readings by station (using this chart), and calculated how many exit clicks were logged for the Atlantic Avenue station from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

We suspected there would be a jump in the time period before the concert. So earlier in the week, we ran the numbers for each Friday for much of the year and calculated those averages (I ended up using just September, because they were higher, post-summer vacation readings). Then, Saturday morning, Steven got up really early and ran the program again, including the newly posted numbers.

He sent me the latest values, and I added them to the chart in a taxi on the way to the station. At 8:35 a.m., I was on the air talking about how it appears about a third of the concert-goers took the subway.

It could be more than that. Some people could have left the system at another station. And if anyone left through an emergency exit, or if they showed up after 8 p.m., they wouldn't be in our turnstile data.

But it's a place to start, and we'll be watching how these numbers change for future concerts and for Brooklyn Nets games.

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WNYC News

As Barclays Opens, Neighbors Still Grumble

Friday, September 28, 2012

WNYC

After almost a decade of fits and starts, the first part of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project opens Friday. But the hoopla can’t quell the controversy surrounding the project. Neighborhood groups continue challenging Atlantic Yards, arguing that a Community Benefits Agreement signed by some, doesn’t include or apply to all.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

The Barclays Center: Open for Business

Monday, September 24, 2012

The ribbon was cut last Friday on the Barclay's arena in Brooklyn. Charles Bagli, New York Times reporter, looks at what it means for the economy, the neighborhood and the borough.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

New Brooklyn Party Boss

Friday, September 21, 2012

Colin Campbell, political reporter for The Observer, talks about the selection of former Assemblyman and local judge Frank Seddio to be the new leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Seddio was elected by the party's executive committee on Wednesday night, replacing long-time party boss Vito Lopez, who stepped aside amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

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Soundcheck

Clare And The Reasons: Brooklyn Pop Made In Berlin

Thursday, September 13, 2012

When the Brooklyn chamber-pop outfit Clare And The Reasons decided to make its third studio album, the band realized they wanted a change of pace. So the group up and moved to Berlin. The band joins us in studio for a live performance of songs from the new record.

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Soundcheck

A Brooklynites Guide To Berlin With Clare And The Reasons

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Brooklyn chamber-pop outfit Clare and The Reasons moved to Berlin to record their latest album, KR-51. We asked band members Clare Manchon and Olivier Manchon five questions about the German city they called home for a time. It's a Brooklynites Guide to Berlin.

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In Public: Essays from Laura Walker, President of New York Public Radio

WNYC Transmitter Park

Monday, September 10, 2012

On September 10, 2012, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Veronica White, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member Steve Levin and President & CEO of New York Public Radio Laura R. Walker took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening WNYC Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  The $12 million redevelopment of WNYC Transmitter Park includes an esplanade for passive recreation, and 1.6-acres of open space to provide residents and visitors with increased access to the Greenpoint waterfront.   Laura Walker spoke about the significance of the site during the ceremonies.  Below is a transcript of her remarks. 

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WNYC News

Model Boats Set to Launch From Polluted Newtown Creek

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A fleet of artist-made, remote-controlled model boats will launch from Newtown Creek this weekend as part of an effort to draw attention to the waterway between Queens and Brooklyn that is considered one of the nation’s most polluted.

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WNYC News

County Party Chair Remains Powerful, If Poorly Understood, Position

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The resignation of Vito Lopez as head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party means that, in a few weeks, Brooklyn Democrats will get a new party chairman. What, exactly, that means and why it’s important can be difficult to understand for those not deeply steeped in the arcane world of intra-party politics.

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Last Chance Foods

Last Chance Foods: A Farm Grows in Red Hook

Friday, August 31, 2012

At Red Hook Community Farm in Brooklyn, kids help plant vegetables on top of asphalt and learn to love their greens through communal meals.

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WNYC News

Brownsville Teen Mourned

Friday, August 24, 2012

WNYC

Relatives and friends of a 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed on Friday, held an evening candlelight vigil at the intersection of Tapscott and Blake Avenue in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn where he was gunned down.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Scenes from the Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Friday, August 24, 2012

Robert Anasi gives a firsthand account of the swift transformation of Williamsburg from factory backwater to artists’ district to a trendy destination synonymous with hipster culture. His book The Last Bohemia: Scenes from the Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a celebration of the dream of bohemia, a lament for what Williamsburg has become, and a cautionary tale about the transformations of city neighborhoods throughout the United States.

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Annotations: The NEH Preservation Project

We Love People Who Love Brooklyn

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

WNYC

It's a documented fact that in 1942, radio stations, newspapers and magazines maligned the borough of Brooklyn no less than 2,623 times. And that's not even counting movies. Fugheddaboudit!

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Transportation Nation

Word(s) Up: Barclays Center

Friday, August 10, 2012

(photo by Amy Pearl)

The finishing touches are going up on Brooklyn's Barclays Center -- the home of the future Brooklyn Nets, due to open next month. This week the name was hung on the arena.

(photo by Amy Pearl)

The subway station's name was changed to reflect the stadium three months ago.

And the bollards around Atlantic Terminal? They're being updated, too.

Want to learn more about what's happening on Atlantic Avenue? Read

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Spike Lee

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spike Lee talks about his career as a filmmaker, and working with guest host John Turturro in the films “Do the Right Thing,” and “Jungle Fever,” among others. And he’ll talk about his new film “Red Hook Summer,” the latest in Spike Lee’s chronicles of Brooklyn. It’s about a young boy who spends the summer with his deeply religious grandfather in the housing projects of Red Hook. "Red Hook Summer" opens August 10 at Landmark Sunshine, AMC Empire, AMC Magic Johnson Harlem, and BAM Rose Cinemas.

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Soundcheck

Gig Alert: Heavenly Beat

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Brooklyn indie pop group Heavenly Beat plays live at Public Assembly on Wednesday night. Download the track "Tradition."

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Why Can’t the Bronx Be More Like Brooklyn?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money and contributor to the New York Times Magazine, looks into why the Bronx has been left out of much of the economic boom in New York City. His article “Why Can’t the Bronx Be More Like Brooklyn?” appeared in the July 10 New York Times Magazine.

Do you want to weigh in on the pros and cons of various New York’s boroughs? Leave a comment or give us a call at 212-433-9692.

Comments [41]

Transportation Nation

Private Ferry, Floated By Municipal $, Flourishes In New York

Monday, July 16, 2012

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn ride the East River Ferry with the Williamsburg Bridge in the background. (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY - WNYC) Several Brooklyn-to-Manhattan commuters were baffled at 7:45 this morning to find an unexpected boarding ritual taking place at the head of the gangway leading to their ferry. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a likely candidate for mayor, stood there waiting to shake hands.

"Congratulations!" Quinn told the riders, one by one. "You're among the million passengers to take the East River Ferry!"

That's a million paid customers in just over a year, more than double the initial projection of 409,000 annual riders. But that success comes at a price to the city: a $3.1 million subsidy per year over the three-year life of the pilot program.

The money comes from the city's Economic Development Corporation. Private ferries that criss-cross the Hudson River, connecting New Jersey to various parts of the harbor, do not receive subsidies.

The East River Ferry started with 12 days of free service last June. From the beginning, it proved popular with New Yorkers and tourists. The boats follow a route that goes from Wall Street to East 34th Street in Manhattan with stops along the way -- four in Brooklyn and one in Queens. Then they ply the trip in reverse. (Bloomberg and Quinn boarded at the North 6th Street stop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a three stop ride to Wall Street.) In spring and summer, the ferry adds a Brooklyn harbor loop and makes the short hop from Lower Manhattan to Governor's Island.

Weekend service is especially popular in the warm months. Billy Bey, the company running East River Ferry, says it has had to operate larger vessels on the weekends to hold the crowds, and a new landing at Brooklyn Bridge Park has been fitted with wider gangways to speed boarding and disembarking.

The ferry isn't cheap: $4 for a one-way trip, compared to the $2.25 base fare per subway ride with a Metrocard; and the ferry charges $140 for a monthly commuter pass, compared to $104 for a 30-day unlimited ride MetroCard.

But sometimes a passenger like Bloomberg can catch a break. The mayor ordered a $2 cup of coffee from the on-board concession stand, which a woman who gave her name as Jennifer served up gratis. Jennifer said she was happy to do it "because he's the mayor," although she initially called him Mayor Giuliani. But Jennifer also noted a Bloombergian particularity: the mayor added milk to his Joe but, true to his crusade against empty calories, no sugar.

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Soundcheck

Alex Winston: In Studio

Monday, July 16, 2012

Alex Winston’s debut, King Con, is one of the year’s most striking rock albums so far: full of dark but catchy songs and sometimes creepy storytelling. Fans of Kate Bush and PJ Harvey will find much to like in her dramatic singing. Alex brings her band to our studio for a mostly unplugged set.

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Transportation Nation

Parking Woes Still Dog New Brooklyn Arena

Monday, July 02, 2012

Dean Street in Brooklyn, the site of future Barclays Center parking lot. (Janet Babin/WNYC)

(Janet Babin -- New York, NY, WNYC) Residents concerned about traffic and congestion around the new soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn have until Tuesday, July 3, to submit written comments to Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the project.

“These streets will just be absolutely clogged with on street parking, and the [transportation plan] doesn’t address that,” Gib Veconi said. He is with the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development council and complained there will be a lack of on-street parking for the thousands who will drive to shows at the arena after it opens this fall.

According to surveys conducted by the project’s developer, Forest City Ratner, about 2,500 carloads are expected to drive to each Barclays Arena event — and there are 220 events so far scheduled at the arena during its first year in operation.

Empire State Development extended the comment period to give residents more time to respond. ESD said it’s confident that the neighborhood will be able to absorb the influx of visitors because many will take public transportation to the Prospect Heights facility.

“The goals of the transportation plan are to reduce the number of cars traveling to the arena and to maximize the use of mass transit. We are confident the plan will be effective,” explained Arana Hankin, ESD’s Director for Atlantic Yards.

Hankin said even after the comment period closes, residents will have other chances to tell ESD if transportation or other issues arise.

ESD, the Borough President’s Office and Forest City Ratner are establishing a Quality of Life Committee comprised of community members to address the arena's sticking points.

Hankin said Forest City Ratner is also hiring a full-time community affairs staffer to handle local concerns regarding all aspects of arena operations.

But Veconi said he will continue to push officials to create residential parking permits to reserve on-street spaces for residents. Residential parking permit programs, however, need permission from the state.

Comments and questions about transportation issues can be submitted to AtlanticYards@esd.ny.gov.

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