By Jose Martinez, THE CITY.
A privately maintained elevator at the Barclays Center station was out of service on Feb. 10, 2020. Photo: Jose Martinez/THE CITY
Moving between Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and its subway station can be a heavy lift for riders, saddled with what MTA stats show is the most frequently out-of-service privately owned elevator in the subway system.
That was clear Monday morning, when the elevator connecting the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station to the arena’s plaza at street level was out of service, along with two escalators at the same location.
That elevator, at Brooklyn’s busiest station, functioned just 74.2% of the time in 2019, MTA records show, falling far beneath the 96.5% reliability standard aimed for by New York City Transit.
“I walked farther just to get to this elevator just so I wouldn’t have to wake my sleeping child,” said Amber Stryker, 37, who was pushing a stroller on Monday. “Now I’ll have to find another way in to the subway and that’s disappointing.”
The elevator is maintained by Brooklyn Events Center LLC — a firm tied to Barclays Center ownership — which is named one of the city’s worst subway elevator landlords in a new report set to be released Tuesday from the advocacy organizationTransitCenter.
The list also includes the owner of the InterContinental New York Hotel in Times Square, whose subway elevator connects to Times Square-42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal. Last year, the lift worked 77.3% of the time.
The TransitCenter report calls its manager, Tishman Asset Corp., the “worst” landlord because the elevator leads to the MTA’s busiest subway station.
“Everyday riders with disabilities, older riders and parents with heavy strollers are the ones hurt by broken elevators,” said Colin Wright of TransitCenter. “Riders don’t care who owns or maintains the elevators, they just need them to work.”
Private Sector Performs Worse
A review by THE CITY of five years of MTA data shows that, on average, elevators owned and maintained by private companies have consistently performed slightly worse than those owned by New York City Transit. Since 2016, the 53 elevators managed and maintained by third parties were in service 95% of the time or less.
In contrast, the 262 subway elevators maintained by New York City Transit have met the agency’s 96.5% mark twice since 2015. And that figure last year dipped to 96.4% — a decline the MTA pinned on extensive repair efforts.
The private companies include owners of luxury condominiums, office towers and the Resorts World Casino in Queens, whose elevator at the Aqueduct Racetrack stop on the A line worked 81.5% of time in 2019. That one has shown marked improvement since the first quarter of last year, when it was out of service for months while awaiting replacement parts.
The elevator at the 42nd Street-Port Authority subway station was among the worst performing, but was in service on Feb. 10, 2020. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY
Spokespersons for Barclays Center and the InterContinental Hotel Group did not respond to requests for comment, while representatives for Tishman Asset Corp. and global casino king Genting, which owns Resorts World, declined comment.
The MTA says it inspects every elevator — privately maintained or otherwise — at least three times a day, and alerts the operators to any problems. “This is about showing basic respect for New Yorkers, particularly those living with disabilities,” said Andrei Berman, an MTA spokesperson.
David Rivera, 58, who hobbled down an out-of-service escalator at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, put his feelings in more blunt terms.
“These people need to be yelled at, have people tell them, ‘Hey, get something done!’” he said. “You see me, I don’t want to be limping into the subway.”
Elevators Rise Above Escalators
The privately owned subway elevators do tend to perform better than similar escalators. THE CITY last week reported that corporate-owned escalators hit a five-year low in 2019, working 89.6% of the time.
Two of the five best-performing subway elevators in 2019 are at the Fulton Center in Lower Manhattan, maintained by Westfield Management. One of those units was in service 100% of the time last year and the other worked 99.9% of the time, according to MTA records.
“Responsible owners such as Westfield Management demonstrate that it’s possible to keep private elevators in service most of the time,” said Wright, with TransitCenter. “Bad actors are blatantly disregarding their obligations to subway riders.”
Meanwhile, commuter Jeff Kilpatrick, 60, said he’s grown tired of seeing the subway elevator outside the Barclays Center blocked by barricades.
“Oh man,” he said as he walked past the closed elevator. “It’s been a while since that thing worked.”