Super Bowl: Transportation Chaos Leaves Thousands Packed on Train Platform
While the weather cooperated for the New York area's first Super Bowl, the Secaucus train station has been accused of dropping the ball after what turned into a transportation nightmare for thousands of fans.
MetLife Stadium, where Super Bowl XLVIII was played Sunday, is only seven miles away from the New Jersey station (which is serviced by trains from Penn Station) but the entire ordeal became more torturous than watching Denver's repeated turnovers.
"It took us three hours to get to the game; we had gone through five different security check points by the time we finally got in there," Los Angeles-based Broncos fan Krysten Peek tells The Hollywood Reporter.
"Secaucus was chaos. There was no guard rail or barrier to get in line so people were fighting and yelling at each other. Finally they sent three cops up to try and handle the situation, but we are talking thousands of people just trying to get onto the platform for the next train -- there was no organization.
"It was so easy at Penn Station, they had 20 volunteers, but then you get off at Secaucus and it was like they forgot there was a Super Bowl that day. I couldn't believe it!" says Peek, who was one of 28,000 travelers who bought transit tickets to the Meadowlands on Sunday, breaking a record set in 2009 for a U2 concert.
Despite the hype around the historic game and organizers encouraging fans to take public transport, the number far exceeded expectations and the resulting cramped conditions caused some travelers in the overheated mass to pass out.
"I have never heard of people talk about the transportation issues like this. There was such a sense of urgency to get in," explains Peek, a sports media professional who has been to countless high-profile sporting events. "The first train was at 1:30 p.m. -- that was packed -- then the next was at 2:30. Anyone who left after that would have missed the beginning of the game because it took so long to get there," and with the average ticket costing $1,800, that was a very expensive train delay.
When anxious passengers finally got to the Meadowlands, "there was so much security -- right when you get off the train there were more airport-style checkpoints, then you were funneled around the stadium to the least busy line, and even then you had to go through two more security stops," says Peek.
"I understand that is in New York and it’s a target, but that was ridiculous. I was so sick of standing in line after line after line."
After seeing her team lose 43-8, Peek then had to struggle in a massive line to get back to the city. "The stadium was almost empty for the Lombardi trophy presentation -- even the Seahawks fans had gotten out of there." One friend who decided to stick around to the bitter end got stuck for 70 minutes after the game was over waiting for a train on a windy platform.
Following the Seahawks' victory, the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee made announcements on the public address system in the stadium and also via Twitter asking fans to wait before coming to the stadium, according to ESPN. NJ Transit finally brought in 50 buses to shuttle people to the Port Authority Terminal in New York City to alleviate stranded masses.
With most Super Bowls held in warm-weather cities, and with people driving rather than taking public transport, the arrivals are spread out as people come staggered to tailgate before the game.
"It was chaos. I would much rather be waiting in my car in Arizona or Miami, off my feet and not surrounded by opposing fans yelling at us, then being herded like cattle and funneled into a little area," Peek says.