Super Bowl Transit Plans Emerge

Super Bowl 2014 at the MetLife Stadium in the Jersey Meadows on February 2 promises to set new records in public transportation, or perhaps in gridlock, which organizers hope to avoid.  This won’t just be any game at the Meadowlands, according to reporting by Nate Schweber in The New York Times (Dec. 10). For one thing, it will be much harder to drive to the stadium, which usually offers 30,000 parking spaces at a cost of $25–$35. On Super Bowl Sunday, only about 13,000 spaces will be available; the rest of the parking lots will be used by trucks for the media and for entertainment.  Those few spaces that are available will cost $150, and were scheduled to go on sale on December 12.

Tailgating? Fuhgeddaboutit.  Barbecue grills and lounge chairs won’t be allowed, and in keeping with Super Bowl rules in effect for some time, food and drink you bring in your vehicle will have to be consumed within your parking space, so no sharing with others.

So how will fans get to the event?  The host committee expects 80% of spectators to use public transportation.  Use a private car, or hike in from neighboring towns?  Also verboten.  You can’t penetrate the security perimeter without a pass unless you’re on public transit.  NJ Transit normally handles 10,000–12,000 spectators for regular football games, when 30,000 drive to the stadium; for Super Bowl, NJT is gearing up for much more and is even expanding platforms at the Secaucus Junction transfer station so that longer trains can be handled. (Riders to New York have to change trains at Secaucus; the Lackawanna Coalition suggested to NJT that direct service without changing is technically possible, but NJT replied that security considerations require the transfer.)

NJT will also have bus competition; a fleet of buses called the Fan Express will operate from 5 sites in Manhattan and 4 in New Jersey, costing $51 round trip.  This is quite a bit more than the train fares.

In related news, Richard Newman reported in The Record (December 12) that private jet travel to the big game will also be difficult: for days before and after the game, those wanting to land private jets at the closest general aviation airport—Teterboro Airport—will need to make advance reservations, as there is limited capacity.  Typically, about 1000 private jets have arrived at past Super Bowls.  On the positive side (for the jet set!) noise restrictions at Teterboro, which normally limit late-night flights, will be lifted on game night.

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