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More than 27,000 people flooded the Secaucus train station in New Jersey for transportation to the Super Bowl on Sunday, wildly exceeding official estimates as fans waited uncomfortably amid long delays to the game.
A spokesman for NJ Transit told USA TODAY Sports that the NFL estimated that 12,000 to 15,000 people would take New Jersey trains to the game. By 4:30p.m. ET, about two hours before kickoff, the number was 27,000, said Bill Smith, spokesman for NJ Transit. Smith said the previous record was 22,000 for a U2 concert in 2009.
"We have prepared contingency plans to accommodate additional ridership and are working on that basis," Smith said.
Smith cited another reason for passenger delays. He said a number of trains arrived at the same time security agents started screening passenger baggage. This delayed passengers from deboarding at the station, he said.
"We believe that the earlier bottlenecking was caused by the simultaneous arrival of trains," Smith said.
Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said TSA continued to screen baggage throughout the day and only a small percentage of passengers brought baggage anyway. Fans also were screened by security upon entering MetLife Stadium.
Charles Watkins and his wife took a train from Newark to Secaucus, then transferred to a MetLife train.
From the time they got to Secaucus, Watkins said it took 90 minutes to step off the train in East Rutherford.
"I don't know if it was organized very well," Watkins said. "Everyone was kind of packed in there, it was too hot, and then, belatedly, they started breaking up the groups a little bit."
Smith said EMTs were stationed on the scene as part of planning and for those complaining of the heat, any treatment provided consisted of bottled water.
Contributing: Josh Newman, njpress media.com