At the added August board meeting, a concept/design contract for this project, which began in April with an Innovation Challenge. The goal is to improve transit between Secaucus Junction and the Meadowlands complex. We question spending $3.5 million for the study—for that, we could surely have weekend service to Montclair State!—but given the approval, hope that they are actually investigating real needs, not unverified corporate allegations; that they consider using assets they already have—rail lines, primarily—and that the private entities that are looking for more options for employees and customers alike will be asked to contribute to the cost. We understand that there are contractual obligations, but they are very unclear, and we hope that the board insists on realistic cost projections and funding plans before going any further with this project.
Since service to the Meadowlands Sports Complex begain in 2009, business has been booming. This is according to NJ Transit, which operates rail service from Hoboken via Secaucus to the Meadowlands station, but only when major sports or other events are happening. Enter the Super Bowl, scheduled for the Meadowlands in February 2014. How many people will use the train to the Super Bowl? It’s hard to predict, but about 10,000 people routinely use the service for Giants and Jets games; the record is 22,000 for a U2 concert. Most of the customers (90% it turns out) are from New York; New Jerseyans seem to prefer their cars for some reason. However, there’s a bottleneck: many of the Meadowlands patrons change trains at the Secaucus transfer station, most heading to or from Penn Station in New York—but while the Meadowlands station was built with capacity for 10-car trains, Secaucus can handle only 8-car trains. According to reporting by Mike Frassinelli in the Star-Ledger (March 10), NJT wants to lengthen the lower-level Secaucus platforms, which the Meadowlands trains use, to accommodate 10 cars. The cost? Up to $2.5 million. Fortunately, when Secaucus was built, foundations were included for the longer platforms, expediting the improvement project.