Super Bowl transit woes cause concern for Toronto

Feb 3, 2014 | News

By Derick Deonarain

Thousands of fans were stranded at the Met Life Stadium in New York, New Jersey after the Super Bowl on Sunday, leaving Torontonians concerned about their transit’s ability to handle events like the upcoming Pan Am Games.

The NFL anticipated there would only be 12,000 fans taking public transit after the game but quickly found out there were actually 28,000 people that needed those services, according to an article in the Washington Post. The gross miscalculation, which was due to restricted parking at the stadium and a reliance on mass transit, severely congested the New Jersey transportation system and left many in attendance waiting for hours.

With major sporting events like the 2015 Pan American Games and 2016 National Basketball Associations All-Star weekend coming to the city of Toronto, some people are concerned about whether the city will face similar problems as New Jersey.

“I can’t comment on New Jersey’s situation or their transit system but I can say there’s a huge plan and lots of planning still to get people around Toronto and the vicinity for the games. The TTC is just one part of that,” said Brad Ross, TTC Head of Communications.

One of the concerns some people have involves the state of certain infrastructures across the city and the consequences of not having them properly built in time.

“There will definitely be certain logistical issues with the games. The one thing I can say is if the Gardiner isn’t fixed up by then, which it won’t be, then that’s a problem,” said Anke Foller-Carroll, School of Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism instructor at Humber College.

While the Gardiner Expressway construction is not set to be completed until late 2015, the TTC will play a big role for the additional commuters going to the games that summer.

The transit system is no stranger to dealing with major sporting events or large crowds though, Ross explained.

“We deal with major events all the time. For example, a game at the Rogers Centre has coincided with a concert or another game at the Air Canada Centre. It’s not unusual to see large surges of people, post-event at Union Station,” he said.

In 2002 Toronto’s transit system carried 1.9 million commuters in one day during World Youth Day when Pope John Paul II visited the city, added Ross.

The Pan Am Games are expected to bring more than 250,000 tourists to Toronto.

As Ross and other partners of the Pan Am Games are developing plans to ensure Torontonians, as well as their visitors, get around safely and efficiently, some people think the city will be able to handle the situation based on previous experience.

“I’ve gone to Leafs games for years but never really had a problem getting home after games with the subway. Even when there’s been a concert at the Rogers Centre, it’s been crowded, but travelling has been fine,” said Brydon Rombough, Humber Alumni.

Others have echoed the same sentiment based on the layout of the games.

“I think it’ll be manageable because this is an event that’s stretched over a larger time period than the Super Bowl with many different venues in Markham, in Richmond Hill, in Milton, in Hamilton.”

Despite some of the worries people may have about Toronto’s infrastructure moving forward, the TTC have said they will do what they can to meet the needs of commuters.

“As a transit agency you plan for that. You have the staff to deal with the crowds post-event, you have service on to meet the needs of the travelling public and that’s what we’ll do in 2015 and as we do every day,” said Ross.

The 2015 Pan American Games are set to take place from July 10 to 26.