Sunday, November 06, 2005

DEIS: Public transit concerns; Metro-North issues


Draft EIS states:

The proposed project would also make improvements along River Avenue and in the area of the existing pedestrian bridge over the Metro-North Railroad tracks. Access to the existing pedestrian bridge would be improved and made ADA compliant. New urban design elements, such as unique paving, signage, and pedestrian lighting would be implemented at the western end of the pedestrian bridge.

In the Bronx, the Hudson line has its southernmost stop in Morris Heights, approximately 2 miles north of Yankee Stadium. Connection via public transit from this location requires multiple transfers to local buses and/or the Jerome Avenue subway.

The New Haven and Harlem lines have their nearest stop at the Melrose station, which is about 0.65 mile to the east of the existing stadium.

Although 125th Street station is further away from the existing stadium than the aforementioned stops, its more convenient transfer to the Jerome Avenue line (No. 4 train) at the 125th Street subway station makes it the most popular stop for patrons traveling via the railroad.

Overall, travel via the railroad represents a small percentage of the overall trips destined for Yankees home games. It is anticipated that the proposed stadium would have little, if any, effect on future railroad travel. Hence, a quantified analysis of Metro-North Railroad operations is not warranted, and the proposed project would not result in any significant adverse impacts on railroad travel.


This is perhaps one of the most bizarre parts of the entire proposal. You have horrible traffic problems getting people to and from the stadium. You have Metro-North tracks running through the stadium site. You have travel surveys that indicate a desire to use transit. You have a new shopping mall going in next to the stadium and next to the tracks. And you have a federal Congressional appropriation for $2.4 million to “upgrade Metro-North stations in the Bronx and construct a station at Yankee Stadium”. Everything seems to be lined up for what should be a “no-brainer” – constructing a new Metro-North station as part of the project. Yet, no new station is envisioned for the project, and Metro-North service has been dismissed by the DEIS. The stadium will “have little, if any, effect on future railroad travel”.

This is completely insane. It is almost becoming one of those comical “only in New York” type situations where New York gets laughed at for its inability to provide basic, essential services for its people while money gets wasted on politically favored projects and bureaucratic red-tape.

We have a $2.4 Million earmark under the new federal SAFETEA-LU legislation that was recently signed into law by President Bush. The earmark (Earmark No. 2289) would give substantial money towards the construction of a new Metro-North station at the stadium, but could also be used to upgrade service to the Melrose station – thus providing better access from all three east-of-Hudson metro north lines, reaching a catchment area as far north as Poughkeepsie and as far east as New Haven. It would open up the stadium to train travel in a way that cannot be accomplished now – with transfers at 125th Street or Morris Heights and infrequent service to the Melrose station.

A new Yankee Stadium station should have extra train service scheduled for both game start and end times, in addition to regular service for local community residents. The Melrose station should get increased service on both the Harlem and New Haven lines for game times as well. The Yankees should work with Metro-North on various package deal incentives to encourage train use. Such ideas should include, but not be limited to:

o Free or reduced fare rides when ticket stubs for events are shown on board trains

o Giveaways or promotions at the stadium for people who ride transit to games

o Free parking at rail stations for game attendees

Doing this will not only benefit the project by reducing traffic to and from the stadium, but it will also serve to raise the profile of public transit, and get people using it who might not ride it ordinarily. Public transit is good for society in that it reduces energy consumption and reliance on foreign oil and other resources that are finite in supply. It is a smart choice for New York and it will certainly become a more obvious choice as oil supplies around the world tighten, and competition for diminishing resources with developing countries becomes more intense.


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