Home New Jersey Transit After the Super Bowl, a temporary delay

After the Super Bowl, a temporary delay

by Benjamin Kabak

Much like New Jersey Transit apparently did after the Super Bowl, I’m taking tonight off due to hosting duties. I’ll be back in the morning with a post on the potential fare hikes that may await us in the event the MTA cannot realize its dreams of net-zero wage increase. It ain’t pretty.

Meanwhile, mull on the fact that at nearly 1 a.m., there are still football fans trying to get a New Jersey Transit train from the Meadowlands to Seacuacus. The last trains of the night to various areas are leaving soon, and the so-called mass transit Super Bowl has highlighted the limitations of the areas transit network. This is embarrassing and should be a wake-up call. It probably won’t be though.

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Alex C February 3, 2014 - 1:03 am

“Clearly, we need new investments in highways, parking, highways, parking, highways, and of course parking.”

– Area politicians, tomorrow

Brian February 3, 2014 - 1:03 am

Well there goes our chance at hosting any big event on this magnitude for a while. Thanks NJ transit. Heads better roll for this. They probably wont though.

adirondacker12800 February 3, 2014 - 1:28 am

The terminal tracks and platforms at the Meadowlands can handle 10,000 people an hour. One of the alternatives examined back when they were examining alternatives was to build a loop instead of a stub. That would have handled 20,000 an hour comfortably and probably close to 35,000 an hour with lots of standees. It was rejected as being too costly. It probably is because and event like the Super Bowl happens once every few decades and 10,000 an hour is good enough for most events.

Eric F February 3, 2014 - 11:48 am

If the tracks were through tracks to Bergen the lines, they could have had a second transfer point up in Bergen County, perhaps at that Route 23 station, which would have helped. But it’s hart to imagine any big investment in something like that to literally accommodate a one-time use.

lawhawk February 3, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Not the Bergen/Main line. The Meadowlands track alignment would have been a perfect fit for the Pascack Valley line – a through track that would make sense given the location.

The decisions for how the track alignment and service options were made long before the Super Bowl was awarded, and they were flawed from the outset.

But the service problems also highlighted the fact that there’s a real demand for transit service – more people sought out the service than anyone thought possible. How many of those are now turned off from traveling by mass transit in the future because of the foulup here? This was an opportunity to do right by commuters, and NJ Transit once again fouled it up.

And then had the temerity to claim it was successful. Successful in the short term sense that they handled more people than ever, but a failure because they could have done so much more.

SEAN February 3, 2014 - 12:15 pm

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t the number of passengers double what was estimated? 15K vs 28K or something like that?

Josh February 3, 2014 - 12:56 pm

That seems like an absurdly low estimate given the amount of effort they made to encourage people to take the train. “DON’T DRIVE, TAKE THE TRAIN! DON’T DRIVE, TAKE THE TRAIN! DON’T DRIVE, TAKE THE TRAIN! Holy crap, are all these people here to take the train?”

Eric F February 3, 2014 - 1:22 pm

I think that nails it. They expected a crowd of 15k, and had the ability to handle that. They got double that. With all the “use the train” propaganda, not sure why they thought that the use would only be 15k, but then even 30k seems low to me given the drumbeat for transit use on this event.

The fact is you only have the platforms and tracks that you have, and a packed train may handle about 1,500 people. Even 15,000 is a big crowd all things considered. Watching 1,500 or so board a regular rush hour train at Penn is amazing enough. Imagine if enough people to fill 20 trains got there at the same time and had to get on a one-track platform and alignment. Yuck.

John-2 February 3, 2014 - 9:20 pm

They set themselves up for it by charging $51 for the bus, and $10.50 for the train. Once the people who normally get comped Super Bowl tickets started chickening out over fears of cold and snow, and thousands of those tickets hit the re-sale market, the actual fans who bought them wanted to figure out some way to cut their other overall costs, and NJ Transit was a $40 savings (or just about two beers during the game).

They really didn’t have all that much time to adjust to the reality of the crowd’s lower disposable income demographics, but they had at least 3-4 days to figure out their passenger volume was going to be higher than expected, especially if no one was buying advance tickets for the $51 bus rides.

Spendmor Wastemor February 3, 2014 - 1:38 pm

15,000, 30,000?

ONE clanking NYC subway line handles 30,000 sardines in 45 minutes.

In 1914, they would have thrown down temporary track, at street level if need be. The terminal would have had a banked loop to turn around, and a flagman to let trains platform 30 seconds apart. There might even have been consideration not to crush-load the trains, lest the womenfolk be subject to inebriated immodesty.

Progressive or Reactionary, we excel at doing less with more.

Eric F February 3, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Throwing down a temporary track?

If you don’t conform a trillion permitting conditions you can’t so much a blow your nose. You really think a transit agency can pour fill and add a track to a swamp, sorry “wetland” in less than 20 years?

Alon Levy February 3, 2014 - 6:44 pm

Yes, and people would have been run over by trains just as they were back then, even with very high levels of staffing (station masters, platform attendants, switchmen, etc.).

And the signaling on the Meadowlands spur almost certainly doesn’t support subway frequencies. The cost of installing the required signaling is trivial if you’re doing it for a commuter rail line that runs every 2-3 minutes at rush hour every weekday, like the Hudson tunnels, but it’s not as trivial if it’s for a crush load that happens once every few years. To pull numbers ex recto, if it costs $6 million to install the required signals for 30,000 riders a weekday, then it’s $0.80 per annual rider, whereas if it’s for 30,000 riders a year then it’s $200 per annual rider, which is what ESA was projected to cost before the most recent overrun. If it’s for 30,000 riders per decade then it’s $2,000 per annual rider, which is insanely high. (SAS, by the way, is about $80/annual rider.)

Beebo February 3, 2014 - 6:52 pm

There’s no estimation. They know how many tickets there are. They know how many buses there are & how many passengers per bus. They know how many parking places there are. This stuff is all pre-sold. So it’s simple arithmetic: the remainder ride the train!

AG February 3, 2014 - 7:39 pm

“Big event” like what? What else could possibly come this way at Met Life again? The World Cup? At the earliest that would be 20 years or so. Met Life is the #1 ticket seller for outdoor concerts in the country… It gets large crowds all the time – but most don’t have the “no drive” policy of the Super Bowl.

With the amount of money the NFL made of an NYC/NJ Super Bowl – and the lack of freezing weather or snow… expect Met Life to be put on “regular rotation” – which is probably once a decade.

Walt Gekko February 3, 2014 - 1:09 am

This does not surprise me at all:

Plan as you might, something would come up to create problems.

One thing NJT should have considered if possible was having direct service from The Meadowlands to Trenton for everyone heading to/from Central and Southern New Jersey. That would have taken care of those people and reduced the number of people needing to transfer. Also, some of those looking for NYC could have if there was service to Trenton could have switched at Newark for the PATH trains, which might have been a bit roundabout, but would have helped in this instance.

Otherwise, this was a very smoothly run week in spite of ALL of the weather issues over the past two weeks (including 11″ of snow a week and a half ago and bitter cold early in the past week) during what has been the coldest winter in the New York area since 1977, which is the coldest on record. If they get the Super Bowl again, I suspect they will work on improving the public transportation aspects of getting to the Super Bowl.

RailPhilly February 3, 2014 - 11:04 am

It seems like the Meadowlands station itself was a bottleneck, so running from their to Trenton probably would not have helped. Wouldn’t a run from Meadowlands to Trenton still have to pass through the lower level of Secaucus Transfer?

Basically, this is a failure of imagination. The Meadowlands had gone so long without transit that the Meadowlands spur was under designed, and the resulting traffic was low due to the inconvenient transfers. Secaucus transfer too was build around relatively low passenger loads. So when the Superbowl, or some concerts brings 20,000 plus passengers, it overwhelms an underbuilt system.

adirondacker12800 February 3, 2014 - 2:28 pm

Trains from the Meadowlands, without doing something odd, can go to Spring Valley or Hoboken. To get to Trenton from the Meadowlands the train would have to go to Hoboken, change ends so it can reverse out, and go to Newark. It takes longer to go to Newark from Hoboken that way than it does to take PATH.

John February 3, 2014 - 2:09 am

Pricing the bus connections from Midtown at roughly 5x the cost of the train no doubt exacerbated the problem along with the fact that there were so many fewer parking spots at the Meadowlands, forcing mass transit to play a mandatory far bigger role than at your average Giant or Jet game (and while you’d think that high-rollers wouldn’t care about a $51 bus ride vs. a $10.50 trip by train, apparently the fear of miserable conditions led a lot of the normal big money people who see the Super Bowl as a perk/excuse to go golfing and/or to parties to avoid the game, putting a lot of tickets on the re-sale market for actual fans, which is why Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were talking about how loud the stadium was compared to most Super Bowls. Fans buying through re-sale would think about trying to save $40 bucks by taking NJ Transit over the NFL’s party bus option).

In hindsight, NJ Transit and PATH probably should have allowed for boarding checkpoints at both Secaucus and Hoboken, and redirected some riders from Midtown to PATH via 33rd Street, even if the system had to eat the cost of the fares and simply allow people with game tickets free entry. Splitting the security checkpoints between the two locations would have lessened the inbound wait, as would sending riders home or to their hotels via trains stopping at either Secaucus or going non-stop to Hoboken.

Walt Gekko February 5, 2014 - 1:22 am

Actually, John, the bigger reason was the fact the Sochi Olympics begin late tomorrow (Wednesday) night (US Time, opening ceremonies Friday):

Many high rollers who otherwise would have been at Met Life Stadium for the Super Bowl (and there were STILL plenty of those actually there) had long committed to being at Sochi for the Olympics (which were awarded there in 2007) even before this Super Bowl was awarded to New York. It would have been very difficult to justify being in New York for the Super Bowl before essentially heading straight to Sochi for the Winter Olympics that begin late this week, especially since many who spent tens of thousands on accommodations for those games are likely to be there for the entire almost-three weeks of the games there.

I suspect New York gets the Super Bowl at Met Life Stadium again, especially since the NFL knows they dodged HUGE bullets all over the place between a freak ice/snow storm hitting several past “warm weather sites” (including Atlanta, Dallas, Jacksonville, Houston and New Orleans) and heavy rain at other past sites (Tampa and Miami) that would have ruined the week leading up to the game and the snow that hit New York literally right after the game. New York/New Jersey is WAY better equipped than a lot of those other cities to handle this kind of weather, and you got absolutely perfect conditions for the game. The one difference is, it would most likely be in a NON-Winter Olympic year because the international interest would have been far higher for this game (based on my experiences in knowing and dealing with people from other countries) were it not a few days before the start of the games in Sochi.

AG February 5, 2014 - 8:53 pm

I agree totally with your second paragraph… BUT I don’t think the Superbowl and winter Olympics compete.

Generally speaking i don’t think there is much overlap… it’s kind of like thE NHL stadium series last week at yankee stadium… most of the NHL players and families said they had never been to Yankee Stadium before. Now if that F1 race ends up in Jersey – that would certainly compete with the summer Olympics for “high rollers” sincE F1 attracts that type of international crowd.

yeah though – tHE SB will probably be in NY/Nj again simply bc there is so much money to be made.

Nyland8 February 3, 2014 - 6:10 am

Two fading images – or in this case, mirages – immediately appear in our rear view mirrors.

One is that the loop for the Orange and Rockland county lines originally designed in what was to become Christie’s unilaterally squashed ARC project would have made for a much, much quicker Sunday night return to NYPenn Station. Now the discomfort of waiting at the Meadowlands for hours, after one of the most miserable and overpriced Super Bowls in history, will be compounded by yet another arduous transfer at Lautenberg Station.

The other is that, had the Super Bowl been hosted by a stadium built over the Hudson Yards, there might have been no mass-transit delays of any sort, as even a crowd of tens-of-thousands would have quickly diffused through almost every area mass-transit system available in midtown – virtually no different than it does every working day of the week.

Michael K February 3, 2014 - 8:12 am

I am going to agree here. The west side stadium would have become the msg of football stadiums.

Eric February 3, 2014 - 8:22 am

Take up multiple blocks of Midtown real estate for a stadium to be used sixteen times a year? Not worth it. Better to reserve a bunch of charter buses for the rare events like this one.

BruceNY February 3, 2014 - 9:04 am

Come on now, it obviously it would have gotten a lot more use than that (as does Met Life). Ever go to a concert?

AG February 3, 2014 - 7:45 pm

Yeah – but it still would have taken up too much space in NYC. It’s oke in downtown Atlanta or New Orleans – but not NYC. Met Life gets about 30 bookings a year… Baseball stadiums get close to 100… If a football stadium could manage that it would be somewhat ok… but less than 10 percent of the time for something that would take up so much space wouldn’t be worth it.

The Phantom February 3, 2014 - 9:08 am

The Jets stadium would have been an endless traffic jam from hell on the West Side

Bad idea then, bad idea now.

NJT screwed up an event that they had years to prepare for.

Eric Brasure February 3, 2014 - 9:55 am

What were the plans for parking at a West Side stadium?

SEAN February 3, 2014 - 12:18 pm

I don’t remember if there was any parking planned for the Wss.

lawhawk February 3, 2014 - 12:09 pm

The ARC would not have solved matters any, not when the spur line could handle only 10-12tph (figuring on 11,000 commuters handled per hour on the spur with a three platform terminus in Meadowlands).

ARC was rightfully canned by Christie especially in light of all the cost problems with ESA and NJT has long failed to control costs, including Secaucus.

The core issue is that this was designed as a spur instead of a through-service with additional tracks/platforms to handle the rush. Bergen residents were screwed with the NJT service yesterday and going into the future, especially away from Secaucus, and direct service would have enabled people to avoid Secaucus altogether, reducing crowding there. Not everyone was coming from NYP or points South.

Had this been built as a through track, Pascack Valley line would have been a direct route to the Meadowlands for sports events and when American Dream finally opens. Instead, it becomes a multiple transfer trip on game days only because NJT hasn’t indicated whether regular service will run once American Dream opens.

And that means that NJT will probably spend even more to rectify a design choice that was awful at the outset (and cost more and take longer than if they did the right thing from the start).

Alon Levy February 3, 2014 - 6:51 pm

The core issue is that it’s wasteful to build expensive infrastructure for a destination that only sees substantial use a few weekends per year, and crush use only once every few years.

Compare this with Yankee Stadium. First, it gets much more usage because there are way more baseball games per season than football games. And second, it was built next to the preexisting Jerome Avenue Line and the then-planned Grand Concourse Line, instead of at an out of the way location requiring a special spur.

AG February 3, 2014 - 7:48 pm

Yeah – Yankee Stadium is almost in the “perfect” spot as it relates to transit – especially with Metro North and the ferries now.

Come to think of it… When it was first built – wasn’t there another El that came across from Harlem? You can still see the spur where it connected to Jerome Ave. – but I’m not sure it was still operating in the 1920’s.

JMB February 3, 2014 - 8:39 pm

I think that was the 9th ave el coming from the Polo grounds….I think.

AG February 4, 2014 - 9:13 am

Yes – I just checked… That was the one. It actually ran until 1958… I would have thought it ended earlier… Interesting.

Alon Levy February 4, 2014 - 12:10 am

You’re right, I forgot about that.

al February 5, 2014 - 12:29 pm

The old NY and Putnam RR had a stop (Sedgwick Avenue) not too far from there too.

Michael K February 3, 2014 - 8:13 am

Time for the 7 to Secaucus and Meadowlands

Ryan February 3, 2014 - 9:18 am

I’d rather have no extension than any 7 extension for which the stated goal is the Meadowlands.

The Giants and the Jets combine to have more than enough capital to pay for the train if they decide they really want it, and they should be paying 100% of the bill for any extension that involves their stadium.

Even then, I’d still want to find out what the implications of 7 -> Secaucus -> Meadowlands are in the context of, say, 7 -> Journal Square -> Tonnelle Avenue or 7 -> Newark Penn -> EWR and would oppose it if it somehow blocks any of those more useful extensions.

Walt Gekko February 3, 2014 - 9:24 am

Agreed that the Jets and Giants and the NFL for that matter could help pay for any possible extension of the (7) or (L) (the latter would be actually what I would want to extend to NJ if I had a choice) to New Jersey. The (L) to me is actually a better option because it would connect to virtually every other subway line once in Manhattan at 14th Street at 8th Avenue, 6th Avenue and Union Square and might also prompt extending ALL of the stations in the Eastern Division to handle 670′ trains (with an eye to going back to 67′ cars as were the BMT Standards that used to be run in the Eastern Division) or a 10-car train of 67-footers. That to me makes the most sense.

g February 3, 2014 - 9:43 am

Ideally, I’d like to see both the L and the 7 extended to Secaucus and move the majority of PA bus terminal traffic to a new facility there.

MTA splits cost for for the tunnels with the PA, NJT pays for the new stations at Secaucus plus modification to existing, and PA pays for a new major bus terminal.

D G Rossiter February 3, 2014 - 11:15 am

This is a really really good idea!! It would also speed up many NJ-NJ connections. I ride the Short Line from Orange County (and beyond) into PABT and then have to transfer back through the tunnel to get to EWR or other central NJ destinations.

Ryan February 3, 2014 - 12:04 pm

I think sending one of those two trains to Secaucus makes a tremendous amount of sense, as does relocating a good deal of PABT traffic there.

But I don’t buy that sending both trains to Secaucus as a good idea when you can (pesumably – I don’t think there’s any obstacles but I’m not sure) have 7/L transfers on the other side of the Hudson and if you do, you could leverage the 7 for a direct connection to somewhere other than Newark. I like Lincoln Park (the one in Jersey City) or even Greenville (hell, you could then bring the 7 into an easement along the I-78 ROW and get back to EWR that way), or up Tonnelle Avenue – there’s a number of options you can explore for cross-Hudson connections to “not Secaucus.”

g February 3, 2014 - 12:20 pm

The 7 stations in Manhattan are already crowded. They can take some additional traffic by reworking some of the access but I’d be really concerned about dumping that much load on. Doing the L also gives redundancy and relieves the 7 and adjacent transfer stations.

Ryan February 3, 2014 - 11:15 am

Actually, looking at it more closely, I kind of like the L for this more than I do the 7.

Can we fit a new two-level station underneath the intersection of 10th/11th Avenues and 14th Street? If so, extend the 7 the rest of the way down 11th along the existing tail tunnels to a new station there, have the 7 on the upper level of this station crossing over the L on the lower level. L train proceeds on a straight shot to 9th St, crosses under the HBLR, continues along to Secaucus Junction and terminates there with a provision for future extensions west.

Keep a provision open for the 7 to be extended further down 11th Avenue and then turn west to pass under Hoboken Terminal and then head for Lincoln Park.

g February 3, 2014 - 12:25 pm

I considered that but given the penchant the MTA has for complicated deep stations that end up costing double what they thought I decided to discard that idea.

adirondacker12800 February 3, 2014 - 2:34 pm

11th Ave. ends at 22nd street.

Ryan February 3, 2014 - 2:43 pm

Actually, it officially ends at Ganesvoort St. and this “ending” is entirely arbitrary because it’s the same road south of it (and it’s all signposted as NY-9A) except known as West St from that point on.

g February 3, 2014 - 9:37 am

The EDC feasibility study envisioned that the Secaucus 7 station would be an island platform with a small yard at the end of the line on the south side of the station. Extension to Meadowlands would be costly and impractical. Extension to Newark Penn would be more practical although also expensive.

Jim D. February 3, 2014 - 9:24 am

Yes to Secaucus, no to the Meadowlands.

Phantom February 3, 2014 - 9:02 am

Wonder if the pantload governor will accept responsibility for yet another NJ Transit disaster, in front of the nation.

Fat chance.

g February 3, 2014 - 9:21 am

NJT never fails to disappoint.

The NJT spokesman said that the agency was caught off guard by the number of riders. Really? After this thing was billed the Mass Transit Superbowl it was a surprise that people used transit? NJT couldn’t plan it’s way out of a paper bag if the actual lives of it’s officials depended on it.

Christie should have cleaned out the agency after the Sandy debacle for the sheer laziness and incompetence that was put on display for everyone to see. For all the many problems the MTA has even they make NJT look ridiculous time and again.

fw8 February 3, 2014 - 10:35 am

Unacceptable outcome to an event NJ Transit knew was coming.

1) This would have been a good excuse to build Secaucus Loop. Even without ARC, it would have provided a much-needed one seat ride from the Meadowlands to Manhattan. Wouldn’t work so well during rush hour because of capacity constraints, but it would be perfect for Sundays when there’s room at Penn.

2) Failing option #1, NJ Transit should have had a veritable armada of buses ready to go the second the game ended. NJT owns over 1,800 buses, there is absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have been put to good use Sunday evening.

Eric F February 3, 2014 - 11:36 am

They are not going to build a billion dollar Secaucus loop to handle game day crowds 20 times a year! The loop only makes sense if accompanied by a set of additional tracks to NYC.

Even then … let’s say there were 2×2 tracks to NYC. One track could have been reserved by a Secaucus shuttle all day and night for the game with zero impinging on the rest of the NEC. Even a single relief track could have performed that function.

By the way, ARC or no, there was no way ARC would be even half done by game time, so it’s cancellation had no effect on the game crowds.

Walt Gekko February 3, 2014 - 6:59 pm


If the Racetrack were drawing say, 15,000+ patrons a night 4-5 times a week, then it MIGHT be warranted to do such, however, otherwise it would not be worth doing.

SEAN February 3, 2014 - 9:27 pm

If the Racetrack were drawing say, 15,000+ patrons a night 4-5 times a week, then it MIGHT be warranted to do such, however, otherwise it would not be worth doing.

As far as the racetrack is concerned, it’s a dieing sport. That’s why casinos are filling them around the country. That may not happen here do to Atlantic City, but then again things may change if things get desperate enough or the nearby mall fails.

Walt Gekko February 4, 2014 - 12:26 am

Actually, Sean, the new grandstand at The Meadowlands is doing what it had been expected to, improve the experience overall. Handle is WAY up this year from last on The Meadowlands and is becoming favorable. Is it perfect? NO! At the same time, far better than what it was.

That said, what probably needs to be done is to build two new connections and a few more tracks at the terminal. Keep in mind, besides the 20 or so (plus any playoff) games that take place there each year, Met Life Stadium also hosts numerous concerts in the spring and summer and The Meadowlands racetrack for instance does have The Hambletonian each summer. Those events, along with the eventual opening of the American Dream complex and the fact you still have the IZOD Center there probably warrants doing such, with the idea of some of these tracks actually being pocket tracks that can be used for storage as needed (with trains backing up past interlocking for the main tracks into the pockets). The new connections are the most obvious, to Penn Station (for New York trains) and to Trenton (for NJ Transit). Aside from the obvious eliminating of needing a repeat of security at Secaucus for fans transferring to game trains if a Super Bowl or other mega event takes place at Met Life Stadium or elsewhere at the Complex, such would allow Amtrak to have direct service there from various points in the northeast (most notably Boston and Washington) for an event like the Super Bowl while NJ Transit would be able to have direct service from The Meadowlands to Trenton or even Philadelphia for major events at the complex along with obviously Penn Station.

This also would make the station and complex more viable as a Park-And-Ride since it can provide direct service in this scenario to both NYC and points as far south as Trenton on a daily basis.

jdrinboston February 3, 2014 - 10:56 am

Forgive me for a dumb question. If the rail facilities were adequate for Giants/Jets game, why did they fail so badly at the Super Bowl? It’s basically the same stadium with the same capacity and ostensibly the same number of bodies going in the same directions. What am I missing? Did they remove massive amounts of parking, forcing people who would otherwise drive onto trains? Were there tangibly more people going into Manhattan than would otherwise do so for a Giants/Jets game?

Eric F February 3, 2014 - 11:38 am

Because by far most people go to Giants/Jets games by car, which was made impossible here. They also scared the bejeezus out of people to make them take the train . . . and then the train can only do what it can do.

Note that NJT did expand the platforms at Secaucus for the game (by lengthening them) and added a bus staging area as well. Those aspects should have some general commuter utility beyond yesterday.

Phantom February 3, 2014 - 11:01 am


They did remove lots of parking spots in order to make room for hospitality tents for visitors.

Also, for home games many fans take cars or vans.

The Super Bowl of course had many more out of town visitors, with probably very many of them staying in Manhattan.

D G Rossiter February 3, 2014 - 11:17 am

1. Yes, they did remove massive amounts of parking, and also all incentive to drive because no tailgating allowed

2. Far more bodies, about 30k vs. (I think) approx. 8k

3. Security lanes in Secaucus Jct.

SEAN February 3, 2014 - 12:05 pm

Security was the issue plain & simple.

Perhaps for future NFL seasons, there should be even fewer parking spaces at MetLife Statium.

No sarcasm.

Eric F February 3, 2014 - 1:35 pm

Security would NOT have been the issue with problems leaving the stadium.

Chris C February 3, 2014 - 12:49 pm

From my reading on a post on the LIRR Today blog the maths was expected to be

82k fans in the stadium
50k to take the special bus (and apparently all tickets sold)
13k parking passes (but in the end not all sold)

That meant 19k fans expected to use the trains (and probably less as unlikely all those 13k cars/vans would be single occupancy) but the host committee apparently told NJT to work to a figure of 14k. I’m guessing here but I would assume that NJT would have expected more than 14k but nowhere near 28k or even 33k.

But on the night 28k people were using the trains to get to the game – double the number the host committee expected and about a 1/3 more than the basic maths on numbers suggested.

On the way home 33k people used the trains so an additional 5k on top of the numbers going to the game. Where did these people come from? Were there less people on the buses? Did some of them have rows with their buddy who was driving them so lost their ride so had to take transit? Sure some people might loose their bus tickets but 5k??

How much of the delays getting to the game were caused by the security? not the time taken to screen but in lots of people not being ready for screening i.e. taking coats off, removing coins etc from pockets? NJT can’t be blamed for delays caused by passengers not being prepared. (at airports most of the time I’ve been delayed at security have been caused by passengers not the screeners)

Could things have been done better – sure they could but some of the comments people are making – especially on the infrastructure – are more than a little unrealistic. You build based on expected numbers for regular events and not a once in a lifetime events.

The aim of a mass transit superbowl was a good one but the events of last night are not the dagger in its heart that is being suggested. Nor is the end of any hope of the region hosting big events like the again. After all over 80% of attendees did arrive by mass transit – has that ever been achieved before?

Here is the post from The LIRR today.


Walt Gekko February 4, 2014 - 12:38 am

The problem was there were major underestimates of how many people would actually be using the trains, especially going home. Some people may have also not liked taking the bus out and figured it would be easier to take the train back.

I suspect if New York gets the Super Bowl again (and I think they will, but in a NON-Olympic year as based on the interest I saw from people in other countries, it would have been much bigger were it not for the fact the Sochi Olympics begin Thursday), they will do a much better job or fixing what was wrong this time, which all-in-all really was not too much aside from this.

DF February 3, 2014 - 1:03 pm

I gather from the press coverage that the NFL estimated how many people would ride the trains roughly as follows: the 1,100 buses authorized would be full with 50,000 people, and 15-20,000 in cars, leaving 10-15,000 to take the train.


It seems like NJT should have sense checked these estimates, or at least given serious thought to the real numbers being much higher, given that a U2 concert in 2009 had attracted many more riders. They could presumably have arranged to have a couple of hundred extra buses, and confirmed well before kickoff that those would be necessary when the game ended. As it happened they ultimately brought in 50 buses to help clear out the last passengers.

Eric F February 3, 2014 - 1:28 pm

That guy makes a GREAT point. The multilevels are very slow to board/unboard. In fact, I personally would rather ride a single level if at all possible because you lose a few minutes getting off a multi-level at a busy station. They absolutely trade capacity for ease of use. And, by the way, add to that the fact that most of the riders had probably never been on one before, which wouldn’t serve to speed things up at all.

Alon Levy February 3, 2014 - 6:54 pm

In fact, I personally would rather ride a single level if at all possible because you lose a few minutes getting off a multi-level at a busy station.


Srsly, there’s a reason why the 300-people-per-car commuter lines in Tokyo almost never use bilevels. When you’re turning 14 trains in half an hour at a two-track terminal, you need egress to be as fast as humanly possible.

Bolwerk February 3, 2014 - 3:26 pm

Does NJT have a few hundred extra buses lying around?

Nyland8 February 3, 2014 - 3:29 pm

I suspect if they ever do, it would be late on a Sunday night.

Bolwerk February 3, 2014 - 5:01 pm

I guess if they could marshal them from across the state, but even that seems impractical.

SEAN February 3, 2014 - 9:42 pm

FYI The private carrier lines such as Coach USA have the logo on their busses, but they are leased from NJT. So if nessessary, NJT could have borrowed them.

Phantom February 3, 2014 - 5:10 pm

Who says it should only have been NJT buses?

This was a bistate effort, and the MTA and private companies could have given the chance to assist.

This was a once in a lifetime experience for most attendees. They would have paid more $ for a decent transit experience.

JJJJ February 3, 2014 - 1:40 pm

“You can get out of any stadium in 45 minutes to an hour. We are at three hours just to get here,” said Terry Thon, of Denver, as he exited one of the last trains into the Secaucus Junction transfer station. Ahead of him was another 45-minute wait to get on his next train, he said. ”

Classic Secaucus.

Michael K February 3, 2014 - 4:10 pm

A comparison to MNRR’s Yankee Stadium and LIRR’s Citi Field is in order.

Michael K February 3, 2014 - 4:19 pm

Patrick has a great diagram of how to handle massive amounts of passengers at SHEA interlocking:


g February 3, 2014 - 4:40 pm

Both are thru stations so the tph can be cranked up high to really move asses when needed. I think the moral of the story is that if you’re going to serve something like this with a stub terminal then suck it up and overbuild the stub (more platforms and tracks).

In large part the total lack of a contingency plan is what has again bit NJT in the ass. I mean what would have happened if a train broke down on a crucial stretch of track? They never even considered a backup plan.

Patrick O'Hara February 3, 2014 - 6:28 pm

I think it is also good to compare the distance between the venue and the station for these situations. The rail stations at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium are both quite a walk from the actual exit points. This distance allows the crowd to thin out and arrive at the station in a way that looks like a nice bell-curve that matches service levels.

In contrast, a station that is situated very close to the venue entrance can have the issue of large numbers of people swarming the station in a short amount of time.

At Citi Field and Yankee Stadium the distance between the venue and the station platform is about 0.3 miles each. At the LIRR’s Belmont Park Station (which often has trouble with huge crowds swarming trains at large events not unlike what we saw last night), the distance between the Grandstand and the station is only 700 feet (thus subjecting the station to a large wave of people in a short period of time).

At the Meadowlands, the distance between the stadium and the train station is only about 400 feet, as its literally steps away from the stadium exit. With everything that close together, the station designers were just asking for trouble.

Michael K February 3, 2014 - 8:33 pm

Good point. I think when the second phase of the Meadowlands line is completed to the River Line, we will see much smoother operations, with the ability to construct a pocket track along the turnpike so trains can run at two minute headways if need be.

Perhaps they can also consider removing the seats from some old cars and using those exclusively on the Stadium line.

SEAN February 3, 2014 - 9:49 pm

Keep in mind of the monster ajacent to the stadium, namely the mall that Christie keeps sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into & hasn’t opened yet.

Michael K February 3, 2014 - 4:34 pm

Turns out, the 50,000 traveling by bus was inaccurate- 1,100 bus permits were issued and they ASSUMED every charter bus parking at the stadium would be filled to capacity:

“It turns out the NFL expected many more people to arrive by charter bus. The league had 11,000 parking passes for cars and saw 12,000 fans arrive via presold Fan Express shuttles. With 1,100 bus permits sold, Grubman said the numbers added up to the 80,000 fans expected on Sunday.”

“When I do the math, with the number of permits and passes that were sold to vehicles that could accommodate multiple people — really rough numbers: 1,100 buses, those buses are of different sizes — if they hold between 40 and 50 people and they’re fully occupied, do the math,” Grubman said. “So 50,000-plus [by] bus expected.”


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