Even with the weather on its side, New Jersey Transit was unable to meet the transit demands of the approximately 28,000 attendees who purchased rail tickets to the Meadowlands station. Super Bowl fans waited hours at cramped stations on overcrowded platforms and squeezed into tightly-packed trains to make their way to and from the game. With each 10-car train only able to accommodate 1,600 passengers, it took hours for attendees to return home after the Seahawks throttled the Broncos yesterday.
The Super Bowl Host Committee offered a “Fan Express” bus service from nine locations in New York and New Jersey. To expedite the trip between Manhattan and New Jersey, one westbound lane of the Lincoln Tunnel was dedicated exclusively to the buses, an infrastructure improvement that is noticeably lacking during regular weekday commuting times.
So, what are the lessons learned from the first mass transit Super Bowl?
First, in order to make every day trans-Hudson commutes faster, a Lincoln Tunnel westbound exclusive bus lane must be made permanent. Just like the temporary exclusive bus lane facilitated a quick trip for Super Bowl attendees, a permanent westbound XBL lane would provide tremendous time, environmental and economic benefits to the 225,000 bus commuters that use the tunnel every day.
Second, the country’s biggest sports stage only magnified the trials and tribulations that 281,000 NJ Transit commuters have come to expect every day, and demonstrated to the world the need for greater investment in New Jersey’s transportation system. But with the Access to the Region’s Core project cancelled, the Gateway Tunnel years away and a bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund, cross-Hudson rail users shouldn’t expect any relief soon.
That’s because unless New Jersey’s elected officials muster the political will to sustainably fund the state’s transportation system (like their neighbors in Pennsylvania and Delaware have recently done) NJ Transit commuters will continue to face the same overcrowding and unreliable service that Super Bowl attendees got a taste of yesterday.