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NFL, NJ TRANSIT Skip Assembly Hearings On Super Bowl Transit Woes

Crowds waits for NJ TRANSIT trains during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (credit: CBS 2)

Crowds waits for NJ TRANSIT trains during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (credit: CBS 2)

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Super Bowl XLVIII

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New Jersey legislative committee has again been rebuffed by officials from NJ TRANSIT and the NFL as the panel probes what caused massive train delays after last month’s Super Bowl.

The Assembly’s Transportation Committee had scheduled a hearing two weeks ago, but had to cancel it when outgoing NJ TRANSIT head James Weinstein and others declined to attend.

Since then, Weinstein has been replaced by former Turnpike Authority chief Veronique Hakim. Hakim didn’t attend Monday’s hearing in Trenton.

The NFL also declined to send a representative to both hearings.

The panel still held hearings Monday, quizzing officials from groups such as the Meadowlands Liberty Convention Visitors Bureau and the Country Club Services transportation services agency.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, chairman of the Transportation Committee, released a statement saying that while the probe is incomplete without testimony from the NFL and NJ TRANSIT, preliminary findings suggest the transit problems were caused by “an overreliance on expensive bus options that fans were unlikely to use. Restricting other transit options and failing to plan for workable backup alternatives also proved questionable.

“The end result, I fear, is New Jersey shot itself in the foot,” Wisniewski aded.

Twice as many Super Bowl ticketholders as expected wound up taking trains, leading to hours-long delays after the game.

Parking passes to the game cost $150, and bus fares were $53. A NJ TRANSIT ticket cost $10.50.

One committee member likened the mass transit contingency plans for the Super Bowl to the “Who’s On First” comedy routine.

Wisniewski took a couple of shots at both the NFL and NJ TRANSIT in his statement:

“The NFL took its pile of Super Bowl money and left, leaving local officials here in New Jersey to try to clean up afterwards,” he said.

“NJ Transit meanwhile has not had a good couple of years and needs to do better — and do so quickly.”

The day after the Super Bowl, Weinstein defended the agency, saying he thought it did “an excellent job” of moving people.

“We got through that congestion in what I believe was a realistic time,” he said. “It would have been nice if we could have done it faster, but we did it as quickly and as efficiently as we could do it.”

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)