TRENTON - The Assembly Transportation Committee heard testimony on the many mass transit issues surrounding last month's Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.
A total of 33,000 passengers used NJ Transit that day, instead of the 12,000-15,000 riders predicted by the NFL and NJ Transit, breaking the Meadowlands Rail Station record.
NJ Transit says it was overwhelmed when more fans decided to use trains rather than the more than 1,300 buses set up as shuttles throughout the area.
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The committee first heard from Ron Simoncini, head of public relations at the Meadowlands Convention and Visitors Bureau. He says it was not surprising so many people took the train since many heard bus transportation would be difficult and half the parking lot would be unavailable.
Simoncini also says he started to get concerned in November when NJ Transit officials still didn't know the plan for getting fans to the stadium.
Other Meadowlands business leaders say a lack of communication and flexibility from the NFL, left NJ Transit's hands tied. "In the future, when an entity like the NFL comes in with their game plan, perhaps instead of us saying we're going to operate to your plan, I think maybe we need to think that through," said Jim Kirkos, president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber.
Transportation Committee Chairman John Wisniewski noted that the $50 price of the bus ticket and as much as $100 to park and ride literally forced people to the trains - a problem he says organizers should have seen coming.
Fans riding the rails that day endured long waits among other issues. Several people were treated for heat exhaustion in the Secaucus Station before the game.
NJ Transit officials did not appear at Monday's hearing. A letter they sent to the committee Friday said they are conducting their own internal investigation, and will testify when they're done.