Home New Jersey Transit How do you solve a problem like the Super Bowl?

How do you solve a problem like the Super Bowl?

by Benjamin Kabak
A tantalizing glimpse at the Regional Transit map. Click to enlarge.

A tantalizing glimpse at the Regional Transit map. Click to enlarge.

A few years ago, shortly after the NJ Transit spur to the Meadowlands opened, I attempted to take the train to a Springsteen concert. Heading there, I had no problems, but on the way home, the trip was a veritable disaster. Crowds surged against barriers; trains came and went; and what should have been a 30-minute trip took two hours.

Since my first attempt at taking the train to what was then Giant Stadium, I haven’t done so since. I’ve seen a few football games and another concert, and each time, I’ve driven. With MetLife Stadium and its higher capacity, the problem hasn’t gone away, and each Sunday, football fans are dismayed to find the train situation little improved since its early days. It will soon find its day in the spotlight though when the Super Bowl arrives in New Jersey in a few weeks.

For all the stadiums in New York City these days, MetLife is frustratingly inaccessible compared to the rest. It’s close to the city but on the wrong side of a bunch of choke points. When 80,000 fans — and 400,000 people — descend upon New York for Super Bowl week, they’re going to have to get around, and the region’s transit agencies are working together to make the process as smooth as possible.

For starters, New Jersey Transit yesterday announced a commemorative Super Pass for Super Bowl week. For $50, riders can enjoy unlimited travel from Monday, January 27 through Monday, February 3 on all New Jersey Transit rail, bus, light right and Access Link services. It’s part of a plan that New York and New Jersey officials hope will see 80 percent of those in the city for the big game use mass transit to get around.

“This is the first ‘Mass Transit Super Bowl, and we’re thrilled to be able to partner with Governor Christie and NJ TRANSIT to offer this convenient, cost-effective pass to efficiently and safely transport hundreds of thousands of visitors to events in New Jersey and across the region during Super Bowl week and for the game itself,” Al Kelly, Jr., CEO of the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee, said in a statement.

As for the game itself, with limited parking going for $150 a spot, a special $51 bus will run to the Meadowlands, but these plans are untested. The Times runs down the options and the concerns:

New York City subways, New Jersey Transit and PATH trains will have about the same level of service as during weekday rush periods. For the game, the host committee will operate a bus fleet called the Fan Express to carry people to and from five sites in Manhattan and four in New Jersey. The buses will cost $51 round trip, and one lane of the Lincoln Tunnel will be dedicated to them.

“The bus piece is different and new,” Mr. Kelly said. “It’s like the Olympics model.”

Public transit is especially crucial to this year’s Super Bowl because only about 13,000 parking spaces will be available at MetLife Stadium. The rest of the more than 28,000 spaces there will be taken up by trucks used to televise the game and to provide entertainment. In addition to the buses, New Jersey Transit trains will be operating, with game-day service from Secaucus Station to the stadium…“If there’s any region that knows how to deal with public transportation issues,” said Jonathan Tisch, an owner of the New York Giants and one of the chairmen of the host committee, “it’s this region.”

The comparison to the Olympics is apt because this, with the 7 line extension, is how the city would have addressed congestion concerns had Bloomberg won his 2012 bid. Now, we’ll see this play out on a smaller scale for the Super Bowl. Hopefully, everything runs a bit smoother than my early train rides to the Meadowlands.

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DS December 10, 2013 - 1:25 am

I take the Meadowlands bus from Port Authority. So much better than the train. $5 each way. You can pay in cash as you board the bus. None of this changing at Secaucaus nonsense.

John-2 December 10, 2013 - 1:46 am

Bus v. train on Game Day may depend on what the weather’s like — a repeat of Sunday’s Philadelphia-Detroit situation on Feb. 2 (or overnight on Feb. 1) may make the $10.50 round trip rail option a much better choice than the $51 bus, even with the Secaucus transfer. Though my guess is as many of the high-rollers as possible are still going to be eschewing the bus or train and will be trying to get their limos into the parking area, snow or no snow.

Akiva December 10, 2013 - 2:25 am

Its really bad thats it is a two seat ride from Manhattan. But isn’t possible to make direct service from Hoboken? At least then people coming from HOboken, will have a one seat ride, and people coming from lower Manhattan, will have an alternative option of taking path from Wtc to hoboken, and then take NJT.

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 8:57 am

Yes, from Manhattan, take the PATH to Hoboken, and you have a direct shot to the stadium. The transfer in Hoboken is easy. I think the main problem though is capacity and boarding at the Meadowlands station itself, particularly after games. In fairness, the line for buses from Giants Stadium post game isn’t great either. When you think about it, putting together a boarding process for a surge of 25,000? 40,000? (not sure how many people use this on game/concert days) to a one track spur is inherently difficult.

lawhawk December 10, 2013 - 9:19 am

The spur to the stadium is double tracked, with three platforms. The problem is that at the end of the game you’re going to have thousands of people trying to get out at the same time. 10 car double deckers will be used (they just expanded the lower level at Secaucus to accommodate the longer trains). While I think the Meadowlands connection should have been done as a through track station on the Pascack Valley line, the agency should have enough equipment to make the trip possible.

I’m not sure if you’ll be able to ride from Hoboken to Meadowlands. It should be possible, but that will depend on how they arrange schedules and trains. NJT will probably run some trains from Hoboken to Meadowlands, but it will be interesting to see how they set up the schedule for the weekend.

This morning’s commute was a mess on NJT as the Portal Bridge was again a choke point causing significant delays on the NEC. That bridge will be a concern well beyond the Super Bowl, and will be yet another thing that organizers will have to contend with.

Considering the nature of the event, expect any track work to be suspended for the weekend of the game, and probably the weekend before as they gear up for the increased traffic.

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 9:58 am

I didn’t realize that was double tracked, which is especially silly on my part because I’ve actually traveled on it.

“While I think the Meadowlands connection should have been done as a through track station on the Pascack Valley line”

Yes. I’m sure they thought of that, but for the pretty large expense of the station, it would have been nice to have through running. The 27,000 car lot there would also make for a good park and ride facility, I’d imagine.

“I’m not sure if you’ll be able to ride from Hoboken to Meadowlands. It should be possible, but that will depend on how they arrange schedules and trains.”

Good point. That’s the usual route though, and I’m not sure where else they’d store trains besides the Hoboken yard.

“This morning’s commute was a mess on NJT as the Portal Bridge was again a choke point causing significant delays on the NEC. That bridge will be a concern well beyond the Super Bowl, and will be yet another thing that organizers will have to contend with.”

The Feds ave iced the replacement project in what appears to be some sort of self-defeating payback against Christie. I cannot believe that this bridge will still be around 10 years from now. It is maddening that it hasn’t been replaced by now.

SEAN December 10, 2013 - 11:21 am

If & or when the mall “American Dream” opens, the Meadowlands rail line is scheduled to run every day.

At one point there was a plan to construct a loop track between the NEC & the MB/ PVL lines, but I think that prospect was nixed. So as a result, Secaucus Junction will remain. If only the areas around the station were developed with TOD principles.

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 11:27 am

That would be very difficult because it’s “wetland”. There is a rather large, new apartment complex across the Turnpike spur which is currently being expanded. The park there is quite nice (called Laurel Hill), which is the site of a former mental institution, sort of like Randall’s Island.

SEAN December 10, 2013 - 11:52 am

I read about that housing complex in the NYT some time ago, so I know what you’re talking about. Just cant recall the name of it off hand.

SEAN December 11, 2013 - 4:33 pm

Here it is, it’s from 2008.

Next Stop: A Commuter Village By ANTOINETTE MARTIN

TWO contentious plans for the Meadowlands area are already on the radar screen: Xanadu, the giant retail and entertainment complex going up in East Rutherford; and EnCap, a now-canceled project that was to clean up several large former landfills in marshy sections of Rutherford and Lyndhurst and turn them into residential sites and golf courses.

Now comes the Secaucus meadowlands’ turn at transformation — this one perhaps less fraught. Within several weeks, the first 300 units of Xchange at Secaucus Junction, a 2,000-unit rental housing “village” planned for 60 acres beside the regional train transfer station here, will be put on the market.

Developers are creating a “mini-Central Park” as part of the complex, in addition to a river walk (already partly built), a boat launching area and an array of amenities that the builder, Fraternity Meadows, says will rival those of Manhattan apartments while costing roughly half as much.

One-bedroom units with 752 to 793 square feet will rent for $1,800 to $1,900 a month, said Jeremy Halpern, who heads Fraternity Meadows, a subsidiary of the Atlantic Realty Development Corporation, which is led by his father, Jack. Two-bedroom units with 1,067 to 1,222 square feet will go for $2,150 to $2,250, and three-bedrooms with 1,427 to 1,527 square feet are $2,450 to $2,550.

“This is a whole new level for Secaucus,” Mr. Halpern said, “way more upscale than anything that now exists.”

“All this,” he added, with a sweeping gesture meant to include the 2,000-foot-long expanse that is to become a park, “one stop from Midtown.”

Secaucus Junction itself was not conceived as a place for people to live, nor even really to linger. The rail-passenger transfer station was built at a point where Hoboken- and New York-bound lines cross, in order to permit riders to change trains easily and shorten commutes.

During rush hour, as many as 10 trains per hour make the 10-minute trip to Penn Station in New York — and the transfer station has an average of 8,000 visitors per day. But almost immediately after the $450 million transfer station opened in 2000, mass transit planners realized it could have attracted vastly more use if a commuter parking lot had been included in the plan.

Also, by then, the state’s Transit Village program had been inaugurated, and with it came a whole new way of thinking about appropriate development around Secaucus Junction.

In 2002, the station and 600 surrounding acres were designated as a transit-oriented redevelopment. Right after that, Mr. Halpern said, his company bought a parcel near the station.

The Xchange complex will have garage parking for its residents, but the issue of commuter parking has never been resolved.

But that might be on the verge of changing. Just two weeks ago, Edison Properties of Newark, which owns another piece of land beside the station, proposed a “temporary” parking lot to attract more train riders. Under its proposal, a lot would be built to last seven years; after that, the land would be made available for “suitable redevelopment.”

Mr. Halpern is all for the idea. “We need to bring lots and lots of people here,” he said. “We are going to create a fantastic environment with our project, with a big public park leading to the river, with a wonderful natural environment complemented with the scenic tapestry our designers create. Our park will be tied right into Laurel Park next door, where the city is making great improvements. We need to build a real village with lots of people moving around and through it, and the more people who come to this place every day, the better.”

(Laurel Park is the site of the annual Meadowlands Festival, celebrating the splendors of wetlands. It nestles beside the Hackensack River at the base of a 150-foot-high outcropping — known as Fraternity Rock because college students have painted Greek letters on the side that faces the eastern spur of the Turnpike.)

Extolling the delights of the park that he is developing, Mr. Halpern said it would incorporate elements of Central Park’s design, and described it as a gift to Secaucus from his company. “We want people to love this place, and flock to it, and give it vitality, which will benefit us financially in return — if not now, then in the long run by making people want to live here,” he said.

The rental buildings at Xchange at Secaucus Junction are all going to be huge, but low-lying — only four stories tall. Each will be configured like the first 300-unit building: with two lobbies, two mailrooms and long narrow wings — or spokes — to the structure, enclosing garden areas on three sides, and providing residents with some sense of privacy, Mr. Halpern said.

Amenities were also selected to help build a sense of community for occupants, who are likely to begin moving in by late summer, he said. Besides the outdoor recreational possibilities, the buildings will offer fitness centers and an Internet cafe.

Units are being wired for hookup to four multimedia services and equipped with built-in plugs for stereo speakers. On a wall in each unit there will also be touch pads linked to building managers and lobby attendants. Residents will be able to enter the building via key card or fingerprint scan.

Alon Levy December 10, 2013 - 2:34 pm

What wetland? It’s mostly distribution centers and railyards, not the most appropriate land use 6 kilometers from Manhattan on a busy commuter rail line.

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 3:16 pm

The non-built upon area is mostly marsh. Perhaps one day that lower use commercial space may be converted to residences. As it stands now, there are a lot of low rent districts with PATH access that will gentrify before those types of conversions will occur, I’d guess.

Alon Levy December 11, 2013 - 12:23 am

How can we know that? Is it even legal to do any conversion near the station based on Secaucus’s zoning code?

LLQBTT December 13, 2013 - 9:59 am

Hopefully one day it will be all tidal marsh once again!

lawhawk December 10, 2013 - 12:48 pm

The Portal Bridge has gotten wrapped/rolled into the Gateway/ARC funding morass, even though it’s a separate program and should get priority funding precisely because it is one of the major bottlenecks on the entire NEC (others being the tunnels in Baltimore, the Hudson River tunnels, and Harold Interlocking (for which funding and improvements are underway), off the top of my head).

The design and engineering should be done, and it should be “shovel ready” and yet there’s no funding to get it done.

Amtrak is the lead agency on getting it done since they own the infrastructure there.

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Portal is/was a necessary project in order for ARC/Gateway to be truly functional, but as you note the Portal replacement needs to occur whether or not those larger projects are done. There is a very slick whiz bang website for Portal from when it seemed to be imminent, and in fact the proffered timeline had the new bridge already done by now.

Matthew December 10, 2013 - 1:43 pm

Just took the Meadowlands train after a Jets game on Sunday. Left five minutes before the game ended, took about 20 minutes to get everyone boarded, spent another 15 minutes waiting to join the Pascack Valley line from the spur, and then, after getting to Secaucus, another 15 minutes just waiting outside of the station. I wanted to go to Hoboken, the train terminated at Secaucus. Had to wait another 20 minutes just to catch a connecting train on the same exact platform. The whole situation is a disaster. Getting to the stadium is not a huge problem considering that they work the trains into the schedule, but getting back is a disaster. Once the giant mall monstrosity opens, apparently they will have regular service, which (in theory) should make travel more reliable. But, for the super bowl, DO NOT RELY ON TRAIN.

I will never understand why they even built this station. A bus connection from Secaucus takes ten minutes (as opposed to the 10 – 40 minutes I have experienced), and can offer many more times as the flow of passengers comes in and out of the stadium. This seems like the endlessly more efficient method of transporting passengers to and from Secaucus Junction. Not to mention less costly…

lawhawk December 10, 2013 - 1:55 pm

A 10 car train can carry more than 1400 people, which would require at least 28 buses (50 per). No other mode can transport as many as a train. The issue is optimizing the transit so that there aren’t the kinds of lines and bottlenecks at both Secaucus and the terminus at the stadium.

Trains will still move more people, as long as NJT gets the bottlenecks figured out and has enough staff and equipment in place – especially for the connections to both the NEC lines and to the MBPJ and PVL.

Matthew December 10, 2013 - 3:03 pm

While your numbers are a little off (MTA Bus high-capacity buses seat 60 and hold ~100 with standing room), there is no question that trains win in the capacity department. But this capacity comes with a cost. For events at the Meadowlands, they wait until those cars are full and usually don’t have another train waiting, this causes delays. Then you have to incorporate the trains into the existing NJT schedules, this causes delays. Then, because Meadowlands Line trains can’t travel to NYP, you need to allow for connecting time, more delays. Many of the trains don’t even continue on to Hoboken Terminal, more delays. The 1400 person train I was on about an hour to complete the ten minute trip to Secaucus after the JETS game, including wait time at the platform. It took another ten minutes getting those 1400 people from the train on the lower platform level to the concourse level. If you had just 20 busses going back and forth from Secaucus Junction in half hour loops, you would move more people, more efficiently, and at less expense. You would diversify departure and arrival times, which would decrease delay and make for a shorter overall trip to and from NYC.

The Meadowlands Line was a failure in planning and execution. It should have been incorporated into an existing train line or new train line that allows for regular, reliable, and direct service to NYP. But for the limited service it provides those 30 days a year, what a mess.

Bolwerk December 10, 2013 - 3:19 pm

If you had just 20 busses going back and forth from Secaucus Junction in half hour loops, you….

You increase labor costs by a factor of at least 10 over what a single train could achieve. Probably more, really, because those buses would still have to cope with traffic. It’s point blank not cheaper.

NJT is really bad at maintaining, utilizing, or even respecting its rail network, and maybe does a slightly better job with buses. But don’t confuse that as a modal advantage.

Matthew December 10, 2013 - 3:56 pm

I think your labor estimates are a tad inflated. There were several dozen NJT officials manning just the train platforms at the Meadowlands. There were another dozen officials checking bags at the fare entrance to the lower level at Secaucus Junction. This would all be avoided with busses as there already exist many bus lines traveling to and from the Meadowlands that, in essence, just require a single bus driver as opposed to a team of additional security and operations guys. Also, these busses wouldn’t be traveling on the main roads and highways, they would be taking the backroads in between Secaucus and the stadium complex. The trip takes about ten minutes getting there and eight minutes coming back. Add in another fifteen minutes for pick up and drop-off and you have approximately 30 minute turnaround. 20 busses could transport twice the passengers in the same amount of time that the Meadowland Line, in reality, accomplishes today.

When Giants Stadium was being torn down and there was a lack of adequate parking, spillover parking was located close to Secaucus Junction. They supplied bus service to and from those extra parking lots and made they made the trip in under ten minutes immediately before and after the game because they used the back roads.

When the “Xanadu” mall opens up and service becomes more regular, the true advantages of the line may become apparent. But under the current system, busses would do the job of getting to and from Secaucus Junction more efficiently and likely cheaper.

Bolwerk December 10, 2013 - 4:26 pm

I can’t even make sense of that paragraph. Why does there need to be someone checking bags at the fare entrance for trains, but not for buses? These problems seem to have nothing to do with mode choice, and everything to do with ineptitude/authoritarianism.

In any case, I don’t see where you’re getting your numbers. NJT seems to expect peak direction capacity to be 10,000 riders/hour on apparently ~10 trains. That is about 100 bus trips per hour, assuming each bus holds 100 people.

Matthew December 11, 2013 - 11:25 am

You’re question, about checking bags at trains vs. busses, don’t ask me, ask NJT, this is the reality of game day. I’m sure for Super Bowl security will be beefed up like crazy everywhere. But this is the reality of today. Coming OFF the train in Secaucus, prior to the transfer to the Meadowlands Line, there was a bag screening check point. I’ve taken the bus many times, this is never the case.

And the NJT numbers are a joke. That may be the theoretical expectation, but I have not seen anything close to that in practice. Please, if more precise actual numbers exist, what are they? I have no doubt that, on Super Bowl day, they will pull out all of the stops to make the system work better than it does on a normal day. But on those normal days, they are moving half of that hourly capacity if they are lucky. More likely, significantly less in practice. Again, this is going off of observation from being at several football games and taking the train. But if there are hard numbers, I’d like to see them.

Bolwerk December 11, 2013 - 12:56 pm

Beats me, but, even recognizing NJT’s incompetence, it’s still not a modal advantage for buses. Properly utilized, the trains would carry many more people at a much lower per-rider cost.

Matthew February 12, 2014 - 11:03 am

“But, for the super bowl, DO NOT RELY ON TRAIN.”

I know there was concern about there requirement of “28 buses” to make up for the lack of train capacity, but lets say busses were just brought in for the overflow train traffic, the extra 20,000 people that had to wait hours after the first trains departed, that’s only 400 busses at 50 people per bus, or 200 busses at 100 people per bus. I think everyone can agree that, with over 1,000 bus permits issued, there should have been a larger push for bus travel to and from the Super Bowl. Unlike the fixed rail station at the Meadowlands, lines of busses could have formed at multiple locations throughout the stadium complex to disperse crowds more efficiently. Super Bowl was a prime example, more than any other, why the Meadowlands Station is not capable of functioning as intended. Flawed in planning and in execution.

Patrick @ The LIRR Today December 10, 2013 - 7:29 pm

Meadowlands Trains are only being run between Secaucus and the Meadowlands. Passengers coming from Hoboken will have to change trains at Secaucus. (meaning everybody going to the game will have to do the Secaucus Shuffle, no matter where you’re coming from.

Through running on the PVL would be impossible. To have all of those trains go up/down the single-tracked PVL which can barely support bi-hourly service as it is is asking for trouble.

Larry Littlefield December 10, 2013 - 6:10 am

I’ve taken the train to the game, and had no problem on the way home.

The only problem on the way there is that Amtrak does tunnel maintenance on Sunday, and the Hudson River Tubes are single track. With one train after another INBOUND to Penn right at about the time you want to go OUTBOUND to a 1:00 pm game. So you either have to get there VERY early, or you miss a few minutes of the first quarter.

I’ll be going to Jets/Cleveland, and might take the PATH over to Hoboken — when the trains to the Meadowlands depart from — this time. But that’s an extra fare, and I’ll have to look into the possibility of PATH maintenance.

Michael K December 10, 2013 - 8:33 am


Beware – some Meadowlands trains leave from Hoboken Yard, not Hoboken Terminal.

Patrick @ The LIRR Today December 10, 2013 - 7:31 pm

As they have been doing for pretty much all of this season, there will be no through service from Hoboken to the Meadowlands. All trains to the Meadowlands will originate at Secaucus. . (meaning everybody going to the game will have to do the Secaucus Shuffle, no matter where you’re coming from.)

Almost all of the Meadowlands trains are made up at MMC and are sent to Secaucus via West End so they never go anywhere near Hoboken.

Nyland8 December 10, 2013 - 7:45 am

Hmmm. Let me see. Do I want an unlimited ALL-New Jersey-Transit weeklong pass for $50 … or do I want a single round-trip bus ticket for $51 ?? What’s wrong with this picture?

“”This is the first ‘Mass Transit Super Bowl’, and we’re thrilled to be able to partner with Governor Christie and NJ TRANSIT to offer this convenient, cost-effective pass to efficiently and safely transport hundreds of thousands of visitors to events in New Jersey and across the region during Super Bowl week and for the game itself,” Al Kelly, Jr., CEO of the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee, said in a statement.”

When I hear things like, “This is the first “Mass Transit Super Bowl …” I can’t help think what it would have been like if we’d built a domed stadium over the Hudson Yards. THAT would have been a “Mass Transit Super Bowl” like no other has ever been, nor can ever be. Not only would it have been a short walk from the 1/2/3/7/A/B/C/D/F/N/Q/R/LIRR/NJT/PATH AND PABT, (breath) but with a ferry terminal right at the other end of the Javits, the entire harbor would have been a buzz on game day. People staying out in Canarsie could have taken the L Train and walked the High Line to the game.

And the V.I.P.s would have been stumbling distance from a heliport with seven landing pads.

The Javits would have nicely handled the events now slated for the Meadowlands parking lot, and with no place to park, the only vehicles on the roads would have been busses, taxis, police and fire.

With virtually no threat of a bad weather experience, it could have become the premier place to hold a Super Bowl, and been in the rotation a couple of times a decade, just by popular demand. And no other city in the nation could have held a Super Bowl with as many mass-transit options.

Michael K December 10, 2013 - 8:34 am

and the other 364 days of the year?

It is good that it’s becoming a new neighborhood instead.

Nyland8 December 10, 2013 - 9:27 am

Well … no. Even remote stadiums like Foxboro are used 9-10 times a year.

But as an augment to its neighboring convention center, a Jets stadium on the Hudson Yards could have easily become the most used football stadium in the country – and certainly the most mass-transit friendly – by an order of magnitude.

Wether it will indeed become a “new neighborhood” has yet to be seen. And there are already plenty of those – and plenty of office space – in Manhattan. Building sports arenas in the middle of nowhere, compelling people to drive to them, is an unsustainable model. If people are moving back to the cities – and they are – then so too should their football stadiums.

And world-class stadium and convention center would have fit that space perfectly.

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 10:02 am

The Meadowlands stadium is used probably on the order of 30-40 times a year. You have about 20 football pro games there but you also have some college games, international soccer friendlies and large concerts. I’d bet that the larger concerts may be more transit-friendly than the games, as they draw from a younger demographic without tailgating supplies/kids and the other stuff that makes a car trip appealing.

SEAN December 10, 2013 - 11:46 am

Maybe I’m overstating things here, but Metlife hosts more large scale events than any similar venue & yet it remains closed a good portion of the year.

I remember reading about a year ago an article in the NYT about how most sports stadiums end up being a bad investment as a form of development. They are sold as a form of urban revitalisation, but end up eating tax dollars via the debts issued to pay for the construction. The worst offender noted was the original Giants Stadium as the bonds are still being payed off.

Josh December 10, 2013 - 12:00 pm

“People staying out in Canarsie could have taken the L Train and walked the High Line to the game.”

I don’t think anyone who’s coming into town to attend the Super Bowl will be staying out in Canarsie.

Nyland8 December 10, 2013 - 5:06 pm

Improbable, isn’t it? And yet I understand that some Super Bowl attendees seek out apartment/home rentals for the week, which are often cheaper than hotel accommodations – and likewise, people are happy to get out of town and rent their space for a week for what amounts to more than a month’s rent.

They do the same thing for Olympics, World Cups, etc.

And that’s to say nothing of the visiting family members from Klamath Falls, Calexico and Kalamazoo who just want to crash on your Canarsie cot when they visit you on Super Bowl week.

So … who knows.

3ddi3 December 13, 2013 - 11:10 pm

Have you heard of airbnb?

DF December 10, 2013 - 9:39 am

I found it interesting that they are not allowing pedestrian access.

DF December 10, 2013 - 9:49 am

Also interesting, from the press release:

“On Super Bowl Sunday, Select Amtrak Northeast Regional service will make stops at Secaucus Junction station.”

Chris December 10, 2013 - 10:15 am

That’s what I can’t understand. For example, there are two hotels literally 500 feet from the parking lots at the Meadowlands. But for those people to get to the stadium, they have to drive 3 miles to Harmon Meadows, park there, and then take a 3-mile, $51 bus ride.

Absolutely insane.

SEAN December 10, 2013 - 11:55 am

Security theatre?

Josh December 10, 2013 - 12:01 pm

I read it as gouging, not security theater.

Chris December 10, 2013 - 12:12 pm

I’d say both. The three-mile, $51 bus ride is certainly a racket… would love to know how the operator was chosen for that.

SEAN December 10, 2013 - 4:18 pm

Who got that contract… Academy, Coach USA?

Patrick @ The LIRR Today December 10, 2013 - 7:37 pm

Or you can go down to Secaucus Junction and get the NJT trains for $4.50. It’s only a problem if you make it one.

Michael December 10, 2013 - 9:07 pm

Is it simply possible that the hotel space has been booked a long time ago by football personnel, team members, and the various support folks for the football week long series of events and happenings?

I am pretty sure that a great deal of planning and preparation work goes into the Super-Bowl events long-before game time, which could simply mean that that football planning leadership knew along about that hotel space, usage of the parking space, and other related issues. I very much doubt that the nearby hotel space will be going un-used.


Michael K December 10, 2013 - 6:35 pm

All of the surrounding municipalities have been trying to obtain pedestrian access for years. They are too small to collect the capital funds needed and are endlessly relying on grants to fund the development of a greenway

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 9:51 am

With a roof on the new Giants Stadium, they would have had a premier location right in Jersey.

As for transport to there: I think you need an ARC or Gateway, and maybe a bus-only tube into the Lincoln Tunnel and an expanded PA Bus Terminal. Also needed is widening Route 17 and that 2 lane Turnpike spur that runs by the stadium. That spur should be 3 x 3 with a reversible bus lane in the median running from the Lincoln Tunnel exit to at least I-280 (i.e., Newark).

Bobby December 10, 2013 - 10:25 am

The decision to just dedicate one lane of the Lincoln Tunnel for buses that day proves Ben’s point about how much faster we should see them going up around the city. In a situation like this where they feel the “city is in the spotlight” they just do what has to be done to get make it happen. Imagine how much easier the commute would be for Port Authority bus riders if the lane was there permanently.

Tower18 December 10, 2013 - 11:16 am

There is a permanent bus lane going into Port Authority (inbound-only, during morning rush).

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 11:23 am

Exactly. There should be a new 3 lane tunnel allowing for a 2 x 1 configuration with 2 lanes for the dominant flow and one lane the other way. Ideally the entry point would be separate from Rte. 495 so it’s not caught up in that traffic. The current inadequate XBL can be reclaimed by the rest of the tunnel traffic. The fact is that XBL has been a huge success, which is a reason to finance a massive expansion to let it live up to its potential. It’s idiotic now to see routine delays of 30-60 minutes out of the tunnel and approaches as buses are caught up in general traffic and in their own congestion.

Eric December 10, 2013 - 12:21 pm

If you’re already building another tunnel, it would be MUCH more effective to use it for rail than car/bus.

If you want more bus service, take another lane away from cars (2 lanes total=1 tunnel), and justify it based on the number of people served. XBL serves 16000 passengers per hour, a car lane serves 2000. If just 1/8 of those 160000 passengers switched from driving, you would effectively make an additional car lane available, fully replacing the lane you gave to buses.

Eric December 10, 2013 - 12:30 pm

And if traffic on 495 is a problem, make one of its lanes in each direction into a bus lane! There would be two car lanes and one bus lane in each direction, same as in the tunnels.

It’s amazing how many problems can be solved with a few dollars in paint rather than billions in tunnel construction.

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 1:20 pm

Much cheaper to build a bus tunnel and cannibalizing more of the inadequate road network for bus lanes is counterproductive.

Alon Levy December 10, 2013 - 2:37 pm

Much cheaper to build a bus tunnel

Don’t be so sure.

Bolwerk December 10, 2013 - 3:13 pm

Do you just think bus riders don’t count or what? That’s a typical attitude with NYC area transit planners, which is why they demand buses to the exclusion of any other mode. The highway network would be a lot more adequate if enough highway trips in small, privately-owned vehicles were simply removed. Buses could actually use the space relatively efficiently. Even naive neo-liberals like Enrique Peñalosa get one thing right: public transit moves orders of magnitude more space using only marginally more public space per vehicle.

You keep repeating that claim about bus tunnels like a broken record, but don’t seem to be able to identity a single metric by which a bus tunnel could, possibly be cheaper even in terms of absolute cost much less per-rider cost. But set that aside: who the hell is going to support a bus tunnel landing in Manhattan?

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 3:20 pm

“The highway network would be a lot more adequate if enough highway trips in small, privately-owned vehicles were simply removed.”

I can’t argue with that. Similarly, Penn Station is completely adequate, if the railroads reduce train trips to 10 per hour aggregate. Also, we’d only need a couple of electric generation stations if we all just endured rolling brownouts all day.

I freely confess that I’m not an engineer. I just observe the types of grades and curves that exist on roads compared with trains, and it just seems like the engineering is an order of magnitude simpler for roads.

Bolwerk December 10, 2013 - 3:57 pm

If you want to be serious about moving people, you need to actually consider capacity constraints of the systems you propose. Highways could be used to better effect with fewer users in that those remaining users could actually travel further and faster with less wasted energy – just maybe more people would be moved on the aggregate because throughput could be improved (some peak trips would move to off-peak times). Penn Station is literally at about its peak capacity given its present less-than-optimal arrangement. But removing trains wouldn’t typically speed anyone up. It just means fewer people would get where they need to go.

If anything, rail can probably make 90 degree turns more safely and easily than buses can. Grades might be a concern for a freight train, but I don’t see how it would matter with passenger use even acknowledging the possibility that FRA-compliant equipment might be used. Even for a single lane with no shoulder or sidings, what a bus ultimately needs is a wider (=more expensive) tunnel that can’t move as many people.

Eric F December 10, 2013 - 4:30 pm

Yup, if you want to move people in bulk, not carrying anything, in a straight line, hard to beat rail.

Bolwerk December 10, 2013 - 4:54 pm

What the fuck does that mean?

Jonathan English December 10, 2013 - 5:28 pm

You’re not thinking about ventilation for exhaust and safety measures to cope with vehicles that aren’t guided, which are an order of magnitude more complex for roads.

Eric F December 11, 2013 - 8:42 am

“safety measures to cope with vehicles that aren’t guided, which are an order of magnitude more complex for roads”

You mean, a tow truck? I think that was perfected in about 1927. Updated later for the camera + tow truck format. Works pretty well.

Bolwerk December 11, 2013 - 12:52 pm

Bypass lanes? You can’t just casually reverse or tow unguided vehicles, especially articulated ones, out of a single lane tunnel.

Alon Levy December 13, 2013 - 1:24 am

Preventing accidents in road tunnels is still not a solved problem, tow trucks or not, as is preventing those accidents from leading to fires.

Eric December 11, 2013 - 9:27 am

“cannibalizing more of the inadequate road network for bus lanes is counterproductive.”

You sound like me before I visited a European city for the first time (Amsterdam).

I looked at the map of downtown, saw all the roads had just one lane in each direction, and thought: Wow, it must be horrible there, a perpetual traffic jam. Then I arrived and saw to my shock those narrow roads were mostly empty! Because almost everyone was traveling by subway, tram, bike, or foot. Each of which can accommodate more people per unit area than private cars on a road (and much more pleasantly, too).

Soon enough I realized that transport capacity has to be measured not by the number of lanes, but by the number of people transported. A bus lane can transport 8 times as many people as a car lane, so if you turn a car lane into a bus lane (which just requires a bit of painting), it’s the equivalent of adding seven car lanes to your freeway (which you’d never manage to do in real life). Sure, the bus ride is less comfortable than a car ride – but most of the bus riders would never have managed to get on the freeway in their cars (there was never room for them), and now at least they have SOME way of making their trip.

If you live in small cities like Kansas City or Omaha, it’s possible to build enough freeways that everyone can get to work by car. But in New York, it’s physically impossible to do that, there isn’t space. You still need a network of streets in order to transport heavy goods. But to move people efficiently, particularly at chokepoints like the Lincoln Tunnel, a significant amount of space must be reserved for public transit. And just because the Lincoln Tunnel was (stupidly) nearly all-car until now, doesn’t mean we need the same number of car lanes there in the future.

JJJJ December 10, 2013 - 3:12 pm

Stadium Capacity: 80,000 (or whatever the exact number is)
Stadium Crowd on every Jets and Giant Game: 80,000
Stadium Crowd for sold out concert: 80,000
Stadium Crowd on Super Bowl Day: 80,000

I still dont understand why an event with the exact same amount of people as the events held every damn week is a big deal.

Its not like they add seats for the super bowl.

Larry Littlefield December 10, 2013 - 3:54 pm

Typically, the people going to the stadium are from Metro New York, and most drive to get there.

The assumption is the Super Bowl will attract people from out of town who will arrive by air without their cars. Thus many more may choose to use mass transit.

JJJ December 10, 2013 - 6:01 pm

The people who go to one-off concerts are usually going to the stadium for the first time ever. Same for one-off international soccer events. Especially from the latter, people come from all over.

Its NYC. Why are tourists who come for super bowl needing more help than tourists who come every damn day of the year?

John-2 December 10, 2013 - 4:07 pm

Along with the support staff for the various events set up around Met Life, there’s a percentage of people at most NFL cities who go to the pre-game tailgate and never even go to the game, preferring to just eat and drink outside and then watch the game on TV in the parking lot — a trend that’s blown up in the last 6-7 years with the arrival of lighter HDTVs and portable satellite dishes and generators. The bigger set-ups include multiple TVs and dishes with the NFL Sunday Ticket and NFL Red Zone capability, along with the broadcast channels. So a stadium with 80,000 people inside may still have another 20,000 outside after kickoff, and that’s just for a regular season game.

Anyone doing the set-up for the Super Bowl is going to have to have a parking pass (along with a canape, tarp and forced-air heater as part of the package for those who the portable sports bar thing on Feb. 2). But others who may hang out there don’t, and with the shortage of passes, that will push them onto the buses or trains.

JJJ December 10, 2013 - 5:59 pm

Nope. No tailgating allowed. Food and drink must be consumed inside the car. Only people with tickets allowed in.

IE: Less people than usual.

lawhawk December 10, 2013 - 4:38 pm

There’s several factors involved in why the Super Bowl is a different creature from the regular or playoff games or concerts at MetLife – a significant portion of the parking lots are off limits for security, limiting the number of parking spots. Security also dictates limiting vehicle access to the area, so no drop-offs. That means additional reliance on the transit system to bring people to and from the stadium.

High level security also means lengthening the time to get through security and more security at each step of the way, creating potential bottlenecks.

PaulB December 10, 2013 - 9:08 pm

Greetings, locals!

I’ve been to NYC before but not to this stadium.
Could someone tell me the easiest way to get to the stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, from Manhattan? I guess on the way back I can just follow the crowd.

thank you

PaulB December 10, 2013 - 9:12 pm

BTW I don’t intend paying $51 for that bus!

ajedrez December 12, 2013 - 11:56 am

You can also take the #164 bus from the PABT to the stadium. It’s a regular bus, and the $50 special weekly pass would be valid on it. (The fare is about $4.25 for one trip IIRC)

Bolwerk December 10, 2013 - 11:53 pm

If you’re staying in NYC, I guess any NJT train from Penn Station to Secaucus, and then transfer to something stadium-bound.

PaulB December 11, 2013 - 12:53 am

Bedankt, Bolwerk!

Brooklyn Cowbell Guy December 11, 2013 - 9:44 am

I went to a Giants game the year they opened the station. What drove me nuts is how they had fans enter the station.

I was used to the MTA method where people wait on the platform & attempt to board a train (like after a Mets, Yanks, Rangers, Knicks, Nets, Devils, or Cyclones game). They made us wait in a massive line behind the terminal & slowly boarded people. Was very inefficient.

LLQBTT December 13, 2013 - 10:04 am

Just went to a Jet’s game recently. That stadium is a loser from an access point of view, and that’s from a car perspective! After reading the comments here, I am so glad that I didn’t take NJT. I was impressed though that the train station was directly next to the stadium. That’s smart (and unexpected). The bus lane idea sounds good, but a big improvement would be adding a dedicated bus lane the entire route. Otherwise, the bus is just going to sit in traffic until it gets to the tunnel.

Let’s just say that I have no desire to visit that stadium because even with a car, the place is difficult to access.


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