EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Thousands of fans heading home from the WWE’s Wrestlemania show were stuck waiting in long lines due to delays involving NJ TRANSIT trains and buses.
NJ TRANSIT had said that following the event, trains were due to operate every 10 minutes until the crowds dissipated. But the rail system apparently became overwhelmed by passengers, causing major travel delays for people heading into New York and other nearby areas.
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Frustrated fans took to social media to complain about the wait and the chilly, damp weather conditions. Some people told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner they waited up to two to three hours to board a train.
“It was just a mass of humanity hoping to get on these trains that there weren’t enough of,” Paul Boron said.
“Wet, cold and the longer it got, the worse of a nightmare it became,” Brandon Speck said, adding ride-sharing prices ranged from $250-$300 just to get back to Manhattan.
“People were upset and very angry,” Kelsi Schreiber said.
Fans said not only were there no trains, but there were also no announcements.
“They have Giants Monday Night Football games. They have huge concerts here,” Boron said. “Even if the show went late you still knew people had to get out of the stadium, so why were there not enough trains ready to go?”
The zoo of riders at MetLife has been replayed before, after the 2014 Super Bowl and it happened again this summer after a Beyonce and Jay-Z concert.
So why wasn’t the agency prepared this time? CBS2 started asking NJ TRANSIT that question Monday morning and even went over to its Newark headquarters, but even there security said the agency’s spokespersons were in a meeting.
On Monday, NJ TRANSIT issued a statement that put the blame on the Wrestlemania event itself.
“The primary factor contributing to the post-event delays was the WWE’s decision to extend the event to 12:30 a.m., which had significant operational impacts on the evening,” read the statement. “NJ TRANSIT was not informed of this decision until late last night.
“NJ TRANSIT’s pre-event planning called for the use of six train sets following the event until approximately 1 a.m. based on the WWE’s initial event schedule,” the agency said. “The decision to extend this event resulted in our inability to operate some of those trains due to federal requirements limiting train crew hours. Last-minute adjustments such as holding the final trains of the night and adding several additional trips between Secaucus and Penn Station in New York by utilizing crews and trains from throughout the system were made.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called it the dog-ate-my-homework excuse.
“We’re going to learn from this and I’ll be damned if it happens again,” Murphy said.
Last month, NJ TRANSIT opened a new emergency operations center to watch trains in real time and deal with day-to-day problems.
Murphy also included an extra $100 million in his proposed budget for NJ TRANSIT, which would give the railroad $407 million in its operating budget.
The agency has been troubled by a host of issues, including work to meet a deadline on positive train control, schedule disruptions and decreased state financial support in recent years. It also comes after an audit Murphy’s administration published in October that found the agency suffered from top-heavy management, little strategic planning and low morale.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)