TRENTON, NJ—The New Jersey State Assembly's Transportation Committee held a hearing to investigate transportation problems associated with the state's first-ever Super Bowl on Monday, but nobody from NJTransit or the National Football League bothered to show up.
NFL and NJT had assumed that there would be up to 15,000 train riders headed to the Super Bowl. Instead, the Meadowlands rail link was deluged with 33,000. Meanwhile, hundreds of empty buses stood on standby miles away, and went unused.
Most residents preferred the train option because it was the cheapest. While train fares were just $10.50, buses to Manhattan cost $53 and the price to park near the site was $150.
Jim Kirkos, of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, noted that the Meadowlands train service for the big game could only move 12,000 people per hour, explaining why it took three hours to move everyone out.
The schedule called for trains to roll out of the Meadowlands until 1 in the morning, although frequency was to taper off to one every 20 minutes by that time.
Sal Gentile, of Hartz Mountain, supervised parking and to bus 6,500 fans to the Super Bowl. Gentile testified that he had not waited for the NFL's approval to come up with a strategy.
Gentile asserted that NJTransit should have "drawn a line in the sand" instead of waiting for the NFL to make decisions for them.
“I will be reviewing the Agency’s past performance with a view toward implementing lessons learned. I respectfully request reasonable time so that I can be in a position to provide the Committee with meaningful testimony," wrote Veronique Hakim, the newly-appointed head of NJTransit.
During the Super Bowl, James Weinstein was the NJT Executive Director, but he resigned just two weeks after the fiasco.
Billed as the "first mass transit Super Bowl," the game was a blowout and the long wait for train ride home irritated attendees and brought additional criticism on the embattled Governor, Chris Christie.