New Jersey Transit’s performance on Super Bowl Sunday remains controversial, after it took hours longer than expected for thousands of fans to be transported after the game. NJT has congratulated itself on handling far more customers than expected, but that hasn’t placated riders who couldn’t leave the stadium station for hours after the final play. NJT executive director James Weinstein subsequently announced his resignation, and at a special meeting on February 24, the NJT board of directors confirmed Veronique Hakim as Weinstein’s replacement. At the same meeting, state Transportation Commissioner James Simpson announced that the Super Bowl situation would be investigated by an “independent panel” headed by retired U.S. District Court Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh, according to reporting by Larry Higgs in the Asbury Park Press; NJT board vice-president Bruce Meisel and member Jamie Finkel also sit on the panel. Meisel said that the evaluation would be done by the independent committee and not NJT staff, so that “we can understand what we did well and what we did not so well or did poorly”. Meisel characterized the Super Bowl transportation as “a very complicated process”, involving not just NJ Transit but also the National Football League, NJ State Police, and even the Secret Service. Meisel did not take questions after the meeting.
At the meeting, Lackawanna Coalition chairman David Peter Alan submitted a letter suggesting five areas of the Super Bowl transit operation that should be investigated, including methods used to estimate the ridership demand, why apparently many more fans left the game by train than had arrived that way, and how buses were used to alleviate the crush on the train service.
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