Super Bowl XLVIII: 1st 'mass transit' game for fans

An undated file photo of the Meadowlands station

An undated file photo of the Meadowlands station outside of MetLife Stadium. Photo Credit: Getty Images

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Organizers of what's being billed as the first "mass transit Super Bowl" want fans to leave the driving to the offensive line.

With parking spaces at a premium and road conditions potentially more congested than normal, most ticket holders for the Feb. 2 game are to arrive at MetLife Stadium by bus or train. And in preparation for the swarm of new riders, transit agencies in New York and New Jersey, including the Long Island Rail Road, are getting their game faces on.

"It's just another example of why this year's event will be a unique experience for everyone who participates," Super Bowl Host Committee co-chairman Jonathan Tisch said in a statement. "Getting there will be half the fun."

At the core of the Super Bowl's transportation plan will be a special system of coach buses called "The Fan Express." The system, which is expected to carry about 50,000 of the 80,000 fans attending the game, will provide nonstop, express bus service to and from nine designated locations in New York City and New Jersey at a cost of $51 a ticket.

The buses will reach the Meadowlands Sports Complex using a specially designated express lane in the Lincoln Tunnel.

Fans going to the game also can take a NJ Transit train from Penn Station to Secaucus Junction and transfer to a shuttle train bound for MetLife Stadium.

Although LIRR officials say the number of people riding its trains on their way to the game will be "negligible," they're still beefing up service to and from Penn Station -- one of the Fan Express pickup and drop-off spots. Penn also will be a key destination in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, LIRR officials said.

"We're dropping you right at the front door of Super Bowl Boulevard," Joseph Calderone, customer service vice president for the LIRR, said, referring to the 13-block fan event along Broadway in Manhattan. "It couldn't be easier."

The LIRR's Super Bowl week plan includes 16 extra trains during off-peak hours -- eight in the midday and eight at night -- from Wednesday until Friday, and eight extra trains during the weekend. The railroad also will be adding cars to trains where possible.

Calderone said the LIRR doesn't anticipate that the Super Bowl and related events will cause much disruption for regular railroad riders because the bulk of Super Bowl Boulevard visitors are expected to travel during off-peak hours and Super Bowl Sunday tends to be "one of our quietest days."

"Everyone's home watching the game," Calderone said.

Nevertheless, the LIRR and the Super Bowl Host Committee will have extra personnel and post dozens of signs -- paper and digital -- in Penn Station during game week directing transit riders to Super Bowl Boulevard and to NJ Transit.

NJ Transit, the event's designated lead transportation agency, is adding extra train service to and from the Meadowlands, and is selling a $51 "Super Pass" that allows unlimited NJ Transit rides from Jan. 27 until Feb. 3.

NJ Transit officials predicted that about 12,000 fans will take a train to the game, including some who will also ride on the LIRR using a special combination ticket. Agency spokesman John Durso Jr. said that represents a 50-percent increase from the 8,000 fans who usually take NJ Transit to MetLife Stadium for Jets or Giants games.

Most of the Super Bowl riders will probably be doing so for the first time.

"You're not talking local football fans. You're talking fans that could be coming" from cities of the teams in the game, Durso said. "The large majority of the visitors that are going to be coming to our area are not going to be coming with the use of an automobile."

And that's just as well, organizers said, considering there will be just 13,000 stadium parking spots -- starting at $150 each -- to accommodate fans.

Fans who do choose to drive could deal with traffic delays, including those caused by intense security for the game, which Durso said will be "on par with a presidential inauguration."

The Port Authority will work to minimize traffic delays by dedicating extra lanes at the Lincoln Tunnel going into New Jersey before kickoff, and into New York after the game. The authority will also suspend construction work at its Hudson River crossings for the week of the Super Bowl. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will also monitor traffic at its East River crossings, and add an extra Bronx-bound lane on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge on game day.

For all the precautions, the reality of perhaps 500,000 people visiting the region at the height of pothole season is sure to cause "inordinately bad traffic problems" on Super Bowl week, AAA New York spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr. said.

"Our roads are in lousy shape in general, and you subject them to these strains?" Sinclair said. "All of this sounds like a formula for gridlock."

Subscribe to Newsday’s sports newsletter for stories, photos and videos about your favorite New York teams plus national sports news and events.

Comments now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: