SBJ/Jan. 6-12, 2014/Super Bowl

Mass transit touted as best option after parking spots swallowed by security, staging

The New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee is dubbing next month’s game the Mass Transit Super Bowl.

Perhaps others, maybe those with a pro-vehicular angle, will dub it the Anti-Car Super Bowl.

Either way, Feb. 2 is shaping up as a unique experiment for the NFL, with as many as 80 percent of those who will be in attendance expected to come via shared transportation — meaning trains, buses or shuttles.

“It’s the first-ever mass-transit Super Bowl,” said Carmen Bianco, president of MTA New York City Transit, which moves 8 million people a day, speaking at a briefing last month at the Secaucus Junction train station. That junction is where tens of thousands of fans will transfer to a MetLife Stadium connection.

Frank Supovitz, the NFL’s senior vice president of events, said the league has made it clear it is encouraging fans not to take cars to the game.

“Parking is not the way we are recommending,” he said.

The New York region is unique in the United States in the percentage of commuters who rely on mass transit rather than personal vehicles; less than a quarter of New York City residents even owns cars. So when the area won the game, it was no secret that more people would be arriving at this year’s Super Bowl via mass transit than has been the case in the past.

But the limits on parking, and the pricing, were not so expected — even with those steps coming as security considerations. Taxis and car services cannot drop customers off at the stadium; instead, they’ll have to wait. That means those companies will have to secure a parking pass — forget hailing a yellow cab in Manhattan to take you to the game — and those passes average $150.

Booking a car through most providers that day will run as much if not more than the cost of the game ticket. Fugazy Sports and Entertainment, a car-service provider for sporting events and the official provider for the host committee, quoted a price of $1,320 for a typical car to the game (12-hour minimum, $110 an hour).

By contrast, round-trip train fare from New York Penn Station to MetLife Stadium is less than $15. The host committee also is arranging express bus service to pick up fans at spots around the region for $51 round trip.

There are between 13,000 and 15,000 parking spaces available for the game, Supovitz said. A typical New York Jets or Giants game at the stadium has around 28,000, with about 10,000 fans arriving via mass transit. Security requirements and staging areas required the dramatic reduction.

Mass transit will take essentially three forms: New Jersey Transit commuter trains that let fans out in front of the stadium; buses; and hired shuttles. Despite New York being a walking city, forget the idea of getting dropped off outside the grounds and walking in; that’s prohibited.

As for the week itself, the local mass transit providers plan on extra service, including weekday service on Sunday the day of the game. Given the existing transit infrastructure, however, there is not much more that needs to be added to get people around the region.

Once the two teams are decided, the host committee plans to get the transit message out in the two teams’ respective markets through newspaper interviews and direct marketing.

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