Cities and metropolitan areas lucky enough to host the Super Bowl can expect the event to be a once-in-a-generation gathering. While it’s a great honor and a chance to shine on a national stage hosting an event of this size also brings real challenges. With a million people expected to visit the region and 115 million more watching at home on television, making sure everything goes as smooth as possible is priority number one.
Fortunately, Caltrain and its regional partners have spent months planning for Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, which will take place on February 7 at Levi’s Stadium. Those preparations are key to ensuring that football fans can get to the game in a safe, timely manner, and that the rest of riding public knows what to expect during the busy times leading up to kickoff.
Because the Super Bowl is such a high-profile event, enforcing strict safety and security measures will be of utmost importance for Caltrain and its dedicated police force from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. An increased amount of transit police officers will be deployed throughout the Caltrain system on the day of the Super Bowl. Those officers will also be highly visible in the week leading up to the event, when many of the million projected visitors are expected to arrive in the Bay Area.
Passengers travelling to the Super Bowl on public transit should be aware that the NFL enforces strict regulations on bags. The only approved bags for stadiums are ones that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC, and do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″.
Caltrain service plans will also be ramped up to accommodate all the extra passengers in the Bay Area for the game. The lead-up to the contest will actually begin on Saturday, January 30, when Super Bowl City, a family-friendly football center, opens up at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco. That debut will coincide with the opening of the NFL Experience, an interactive theme park headquartered at the city’s Moscone Convention Center.
Both attractions will be open for every day that precedes the Super Bowl, and both are expected to attract thousands of visitors. Caltrain will adjust scheduling and service to accommodate fans attending those events, as well as other gatherings planned for the week leading up to the Super Bowl (which include performances from Metallica at AT&T Park and Dave Matthews Band at Pier 70.) On the day of the game, Caltrain will significantly increase service to make sure that every fan gets to Levi’s Stadium in time for kickoff (passengers will need to transfer to the Valley Transportation Authority’s light-rail lines at the Mountain View Caltrain Station for direct service to the ballpark.)
Caltrain is in the midst of finalizing its exact schedule and service details for the Super Bowl and its related events. Once those extra service plans are fully realized, they will be posted to the Caltrain website and on the agency’s blog, www.peninsulamoves.org. Regional public transit information will also be posted on the Super Bowl Host Committee website here, and on the webpage of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
To ensure that Caltrain’s fleet can meet its increased service needs, the rail agency is undergoing an extensive maintenance and operations check on its trains. Crews are working overtime to prep the trains and make sure that all the equipment is receiving the proper treatment, which will minimize the risk of potential delays cause by mechanical failures.
Because so many out-of-towners will be in the area for the game, Caltrain is advising regular passengers that trains will be very crowded and that service delays are likely. While Caltrain would prefer to max out service as much as possible to meet the demand, the labor, track and equipment limitations on the system means that’s just not possible.
In fact, the Bay Area’s entire transportation network—highways, trains, buses, sidewalks—will be packed, so residents should plan ahead when making their trips. Many of the travelers will be new to the region’s public transit system (and perhaps new to public transit in general), so any patience from Caltrain’s regular customers will be much appreciated.
Like the rest of the world, Caltrain is eagerly looking forward to this year’s Super Bowl. By making preparations far in advance, the rail agency is doing its best to make sure that Super Bowl Sunday is a big win for everyone.