Now that football fans have had a year to get used to the idea of taking the train to the Meadowlands and New Jersey Transit has had a year to improve service, ridership is on the rise. As The Record reported this week, NJ Transit says ridership has increased by 50 percent for the NFL season. Reports John Brennan:
The Jets — with a boost from two “Monday Night Football” games — have 70 percent more fans riding the rails than in 2009, NJ Transit spokeswoman Courtney Carroll said. On Jets game days, there have been about 21,000 trips made this year — the equivalent of 10,500 fans making a round trip — compared with 6,000 such fans last year.
Giants fans are making about 26 percent more trips — about 16,000, or the equivalent of 8,000 round trips. That means that more than 10 percent of fans overall at New Meadowlands Stadium football games are taking the train.
“The schedule is about the same as last year, but we are doing things differently on the operations side to improve the flow,” Carroll said. “We’ve had a year to learn and grow with the service, to see what works.”
Anything to ease the flow of cars into and out of the Meadowlands is a welcome change, but I’m curious to hear more about how NJ Transit has improved their planning.
Last year, for a Bruce Springsteen concert, I took the train to the Meadowlands, and although the trip to the show was smooth, the trip home was anything but. People bumrushed the train station, and after the initial trains left, we had to wait an unreasonable amount of time for the next to leave. Unlike the subway after, say, a game at Yankee Stadium, Transit doesn’t have a steady flow of trains from the Meadowlands to Secaucus Junction.
Right now, the trains are running only around 20 times a year for football games and concerts. Originally, the new Meadowlands stop was supposed to service the Xanadu shopping and entertainment complex, but the mall, slated for a 2011 completion date, may not open until 2014 or beyond.
Anyway, it’s hard to believe that even 10 percent of fans heading to the New Meadowlands Stadium take the train as that complex had become so identified with automobile traffic. That the ridership is growing is proof that, if you build it, they will ride.