Brooklyn continues its climb in desirability with both rent and sale prices rising consistently. Inventories have dropped to a six-year low. Brooklyn apartment rents rose to a record in March and new leases more than doubled, extending a surge in housing demand that was once seen as a refuge from Manhattan’s high housing costs. We saw this trend emerge several years ago as land and construction prices have forced the pricing of new Manhattan housing to surge: Brooklyn was always considered the more affordable alternative to Manhattan, and to a great degree this is still true. With this surge in demand comes increasing stresses on the infrastructure, particularly transportation: the connection between Manhattan and Brooklyn is not keeping up with the demand.
Between 2007 and 2012, the number of subway riders getting on at Lafayette Avenue increased more than 14%; at Clinton-Washington, more than 23%; at Franklin Avenue, almost 30%. Is the MTA in tune with this growing demand? Apparently not. The MTA claims that the C train is now on average 98% full, whereas it used to run at 70%. (This is more or less what the agency predicted; it never planned on increasing service, despite closing down a major transit line.) But speak to anyone riding the subways between Brooklyn and Manhattan and its an entirely different story. I hear of people waiting for two or three ‘L’ trains before being able to find a space on a car. If the demand was spread out evenly throughout the day, the capacity is probably fine, but with peak hours mushrooming the demand, the average consensus is that the subway system is hopelessly inadequate to meet the demand.
Private-sector jobs in Brooklyn jumped 26% in the decade through 2013, Labor Department data show. In Manhattan, the increase was 13%. As more companies open offices in Brooklyn, the need to commute into Manhattan could wane (one hopes). In the interim, the City needs to urgently address the inadequate infrastructure if Brooklyn is to grow and thrive, especially subway transportation.