MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With more than 70,000 fans expected to cram into U.S. Bank Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday, mass transit is a major player to get guests there on time.
With security concerns, all light rail and bus passengers will be screened before they board. It’s just one part of a plan to move fans safely and efficiently for the Big Game. WCCO got a rare look inside the command center where trains are tracked with their every move.
On divisional playoff Sunday, Vikings fans trekked into a snow-shrouded stadium, stepping off light rail trains and into a test. And the final chance to tweak a Super Bowl transit plan.
Holland Groves is senior supervisor of rail operations for Metro Transit.
“The reason we get up in the morning is to move people,” he said.
Metro Transit aims to move more people in less time Super Bowl Sunday.
“It’s one event, at one venue,” Groves said. “We’ve served multiple venues on a single day.”
Inside a sprawling control center, operators are flanked by banks of monitors, cameras and maps. They control the flow — keeping trains moving safely and efficiently.
“We can fit about 600-650 people in one train, so we can move a lot of people quickly,” Groves said.
Come Super Bowl Sunday, light rail lines will only be used to move game-day passengers, who will board after security screening at the University of Minnesota’s Stadium Village and at the Mall of America.
“In addition to that, we’re going to have transit buses strategically placed throughout the Twin Cities area in the event that they’re needed,” Howie Padilla of Metro Transit said.
But it’s the end of the game that’s the bigger challenge, where unlike arriving in stages, fans flood out at once — possibly into bad weather.
“Mother nature’s been helping us out, because on game day, what happens if we get a little weather? We’re able to test that out today too,” Padilla said.
So to move fans quickly, outbound trains will used both sets of tracks, back to Stadium Village and the Mall of America.
“Our goal is two minutes loading time at the stadium,” Groves said.
That’s 1,200 fans pouring onto dual trains, every four minutes.
“There’s nothing that we haven’t thought of,” Groves said. “We’ve got maintenance prepositioned, signals department, traction-power folks.”
Thirty empty trains will be parked between each intersection, from Target Field to U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Downtown, there won’t be an intersection I can think of that won’t have a train parked at it,” Groves said.
That’s never been done before — but Metro Transit is banking it’s game plan brings success.