Train Pulls into Meadowlands 30 Years Late

Link to and from Hoboken finally running

It took the New York Giants 10 years to win their first Super Bowl after moving to New Jersey, and it took the team's adopted state more than three times longer to provide train service to the stadium.

Three decades' worth of stops and starts came to an end Monday with the inaugural trip of NJ Transit service that will carry up to 12,000 fans to and from Hoboken, Secaucus Junction and points north and south.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine was among those who took the first ride, along with Giants owner John Mara and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, Giants offensive linemen Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie and Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and offensive lineman Damien Woody.

"This is a very, very important day as we're reaching a dream that was laid out many, many years ago and has come to fruition at the right moment," Corzine said.

The Meadowlands Station is the centerpiece of a $213 million project by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, NJ Transit, the state Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

It was a key component of the Giants' and Jets' joint project to build a new stadium next to the current Giants Stadium. The new stadium is nearly finished, but both teams will use the old one for the coming season before it is torn down next spring.

"This was very important to us," Giants owner John Mara said about the rail project. "When you're investing this much money into a new stadium and charging the prices we're charging, you have to try and make the fans' game day experience as pleasant as possible. The number one complaint we get, other than the performance of the team, is ingress and egress to the stadium and parking."

Rail projects at the Meadowlands have been contemplated since the complex opened in 1976 and the Giants moved in that fall. But political and economic issues always stood in the way.

"I was telling Gov. Corzine earlier, it took us five governors to get to this point," Mara said jokingly. Corzine is actually the eighth New Jersey governor since the Meadowlands opened, not counting two acting governors who served short stints in early January 2002.

Trains will run from Hoboken to the Meadowlands with a stop at the Secaucus Transfer Station, a hub that connects NJ Transit's lines from across the state with trains into New York. The ride from Hoboken will take about 23 minutes, and the ride from Secaucus about 10.

The public can begin using the trains on Sunday for the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer title match at Giants Stadium.

Initially, trains will operate for stadium events expected to draw more than 50,000 people. These include Giants and Jets preseason and regular season games, concerts and international soccer games.

Trains will run every 10 to 20 minutes from Hoboken and Secaucus beginning 3 1/2 hours before events and up to two hours after they end.

Regular daily service is tied to the opening of the Xanadu retail and entertainment center across Route 120 from Giants Stadium. The long-delayed complex is expected to open sometime next year, though Corzine said the continued weakness of credit markets made it difficult to say exactly when it will be finished.

"There's a lot of progress going on," he said. "It's not signed, sealed and delivered, but we're optimistic. We feel like we're moving towards a position where we'll get the financing and we'll see that project come to fruition."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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