Rail advocates blame Super Bowl tie-ups on insufficient infrastructure

Rail advocates are blaming back ups on public transportation that delayed Super Bowl fans when they were leaving the game in New Jersey on Sunday night on insufficient infrastructure.

Officials in New York and New Jersey dubbed the Super Bowl, which was played in East Rutherford, N.J., the first ever “transit bowl” and they strongly encouraged attendees to take New Jersey Transit trains to the stadium on game day.

Passengers who took them up on the offer faced crowded trains and platforms and sometimes hours-long waits, however.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) said the problem is that New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium is normally “car-centric.”

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“It’s hard to know exactly who is to blame in this situation,” the NARP wrote in a blog post. “While it would be easy to point fingers at NJ Transit, it may simply be the case that the infrastructure was insufficient to the loads placed on it.

“To compare, Long Island Rail Road’s Belmont Racetrack station was designed to accommodate huge, simultaneous influxes of passengers,” the rail association continued. “With an overhead ramp to provide center access to multiple platforms, passengers can feed down to any of the three platforms serving four tracks from either direction. This is not the case with NJT’s Meadowland’s Sports Complex station.”

The group said the normal solution would be to improve the railway infrastructure around the stadium, but it questioned if officials in New Jersey would be as committed to pushing transit use on a non-Super Bowl game day.

“If the Meadowland’s is only going to make transit a top priority for a single day, is it really worth the cost to upgrade,” the NARP wrote. “The MetLife stadium is much more car-centric, with space given over to roughly 28,000 parking spots. Because of increased media and security for the big game, organizers decided to make only 11,000-13,000 of those available. In retrospect, it’s clear not enough thought was given to how people would get to the game, or whether the transportation infrastructure was capable for this sudden juxtaposition of priorities.”

Passengers who took officials up on their pre-game encouragement to ride New Jersey Transit to and from the Super Bowl stormed Twitter after the game to complain about the system's performance, using the hashtag #transitbowl to vent about everything from crowded stations to malfunctioning trains.

Despite the Twitter complaints however, New Jersey Transit officials proclaimed its Super Bowl operations were a success.

"In the first ever #TransitBowl, we successfully & safely moved 4x as many fans as projected by NFL days before #SB48 (more than 33,000)," the agency tweeted from its own account after the game

"Meadowlands Rail can move 12K fans an hr, during #TransitBowl we safely moved more than 33K fans in under 3hrs, crushing previous records," the agency's post-game Twitter comments continued.