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LIRR helps launch 'Train to Game' for football fans

Long Islanders who enjoy cheering on the Jets or Giants, but dread sitting in traffic to do so, soon will have a new option to get to Giants Stadium in time for the coin toss.

Friday, beginning with the Jets preseason opener, the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit will kick off their "Train to the Game" venture, allowing NFL fans to ride the rails to Giants Stadium from anywhere on the LIRR system using a single train ticket.

On that ticket, LIRR riders will be able to ride into Penn Station and transfer to a NJ Transit train bound for Secaucus Junction. There, they can transfer to NJ Transit's shuttle train to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J.

LIRR officials joined Wednesday with those from NJ Transit and Metro-North Railroad, which also is taking part in the effort, to announce the program at a tailgating-themed news conference.

"You've got to be like me and tired of fighting traffic," said Helena Williams, LIRR president and Metropolitan Transportation Authority interim chief. "The good news is, one ticket gets you to the Meadowlands and back. . . . No more worries about the traffic. No more worries about the tolls."

Previously, Long Island football fans who opted against driving to Giants Stadium could take the LIRR to Penn Station, then walk or take the subway to the Port Authority bus terminal, where they would board a NJ Transit bus to the Meadowlands.

Those buses faced many of the same traffic jams that cars would, and could take 35 minutes more to get from Manhattan to the Meadowlands. In normal traffic, the trip should take about 18 minutes.

With the recent completion of NJ Transit's Meadowlands train station, transit officials from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut came together to offer the faster, more convenient travel alternative.

NJ Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles said the new station will leave fans "as close if not closer" to the stadium "than any parking spot."

The Secaucus-Meadowlands shuttles will begin operating 31/2 hours before a game and continue until two hours after a game.

Train to the Game packages will only be available on days of Jets and Giants home games and during events at the Meadowlands expected to draw at least 50,000 people.

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