[photo: flickr: moriah]
In a perfect tie-in to yesterday’s EconTalk podcast on public transportation, Ikea’s new Brooklyn store provides free bus and ferry service to locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Not only is it free, but it’s nicer than the $2/ride public alternative.
Most interestingly, neighbors of the new store in the Red Hook neighborhood are using the buses to commute to work and get around town. When I first heard of this I thought riders would have to show a receipt or prove they are a customer, but Ikea is happy to provide this service to anyone! What a great neighbor…
New York Daily News – Commuters using Ikea shuttle bus to bypass MTA routes
The posh, coach-style shuttle buses, equipped with footrests, reading lights and music, are quickly becoming popular with travelers tired of shelling out $2 for overcrowded – and, by comparison, uncomfortable – city buses.
“It’s like a free car service,” said Bianca Colon, 19, who works at a summer program at Public School 27 on Huntington St. in Red Hook, and takes the bus from downtown Brooklyn near her home. “It takes us straight downtown and I don’t have to wait for the bus to stop every block to let people on and off.”
“It’s such a nice ride, I’d almost be happy to pay for it,” said Steve Riley, 40, who lives in Park Slope, takes the Ikea bus and then transfers to the Ikea water taxi for his job in SoHo. “It was so very different from the miserable experience of the subway and I got to see all four of the waterfalls.”
Brooklyn News found last week that only eight of 19 passengers on the first shuttle ride entered Ikea – and two of them were employees.
“I’d say before one o’clock, about half the riders from Smith and Ninth Sts. don’t even go into Ikea,” said a bus driver, who added many riders are going to a local methodone clinic for treatment.
Ikea had kind words for those using the free transportation. “We are thrilled that we are providing free transit options for the people of New York to come to Ikea and to come to Red Hook,” said Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth. “We support mass transit, and if people are using our services and not going to Ikea, that’s fine with us as well.”
Could Ikea’s popular bus service divert enough commuters away from public transportation to cause it to be banned? Or could it’s popularity help make the case how for-profit transportation could provide superior transportation service in New York, as it had in Santiago before the city takeover?
How much will the superior new transportation option incentivize people to move to previously transit-starved Red Hook? If so, for how long will Ikea continue to provide this service?
Also: Curbed – Forget the B61, Red Hook Now Has ‘Free Car Service’