New Jersey Transit is looking to address a problem that has plagued it in recent years: hourslong waits for people traveling by rail to and from MetLife Stadium for concerts, football games or other large-scale events.
Officials announced Thursday they have issued requests for proposals to companies interested in tackling the problem, which first arose after the 2014 Super Bowl when thousands of fans were stranded, some until the wee hours of the morning. A similar, though not as severe, bottleneck occurred in 2019 after a WrestleMania event that lasted past midnight.
Current rail service between the stadium and Secaucus Junction, where connecting trains go to New York and south along the Northeast Corridor line, runs on a one-way line that dead-ends at both stations and can only carry a little more than 8,000 people per hour. The stadium can host more than 80,000 people for an NFL football game and more than 50,000 for a concert.
The goal is to be able to move 20,000 people per hour, NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett and Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scacchetti said Thursday at a video conference hosted by the Meadowlands Chamber.
Literature soliciting interest from companies indicated NJ Transit “is open to all proposals and does not favor any specific mode” but that solutions should be environmentally conscious and scalable.
A winning proposal likely would incorporate an unused portion of NJ Transit's former Boonton Line that runs west from Secaucus. Gutierrez-Scacchetti and Corbett said a goal is to have a new line also extend west to Montclair and east to Jersey City.
The 2014 Super Bowl was billed as the first “mass transit” Super Bowl, and fans took it to heart, largely eschewing cars for trains and buses. As a result, about 33,000 people took the 7-mile ride between MetLife Stadium and Secaucus, more than double the highest estimates made by organizers and transportation experts.
The overcrowding on the platform grew so severe immediately following the game that the stadium scoreboard flashed a sign asking fans to remain inside.
Thousands of people were stuck waiting in line for trains after the 2019 WrestleMania event ran past the time transit officials had expected. NJ Transit blamed event organizers at the time and said it was unable to operate some trains after 1 a.m. because of federal requirements limiting train crew hours.