The Real Big Game MVP: Public Transit

Large-scale events like championship games represent tremendous challenges for public transit agencies.

The weekend of the big game is upon us, and while the coaches will be doing their best to put players in position to win the game, local public transit will be working even harder to ensure that all of these fans and visitors will be in position to actually see the game. As Super Bowl LVIII approaches, Las Vegas and RTC Southern Nevada are preparing to embrace a massive influx of 330,000 visitors. Public transit will play a crucial role in facilitating the movement of both locals and tourists, ensuring seamless transportation to Allegiant Stadium and throughout the city.

High Visibility. High Stakes.

Large-scale events like championship games, parades, and other sporting events represent tremendous challenges for public transit agencies. It takes months of behind-the-scenes planning, extensive coordination, and the right technology to accommodate the flood of event attendees and minimize disruption for everyday riders who rely on public transit. 

In addition to being a challenging job, it’s also often a thankless one – pull everything off, and nobody will notice; however, if something goes wrong, agencies risk the wrath of angry riders and the sting of negative press.  

Winning Performances 

With these high stakes in mind, we wanted to highlight – and celebrate – some of the great work agencies have done when faced with these disruptions.

› International Success: The influx of spectators during the six days of Super Bowl events in 2023 saw Valley Metro's light rail system experiencing a remarkable 60% increase in ridership, solidifying the importance of public transit in successfully hosting a global mega-event.

› Stress Tested: When the city of Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl in 2019, MARTA saw its busiest travel day in decades, with an estimated 270,000 rail riders, more than double the number seen on a typical Saturday. “Our performance proved MARTA was ready,” said Chief of Rail Operations David Springstead. "On Sunday, the MARTA team worked quickly and efficiently to clear large crowds within 90 minutes of the end of the game.” 

› Line Realignment: In 2018, Minneapolis hosted what it dubbed the “most transit-reliant Super Bowl ever played."  The local transit agency pulled all of its light rail lines out of normal service and added direct service to the game. The city’s bus lines played a complementary – but essential – role, focusing on serving everyday customers while adding extra schedules along key routes to the venue.

› Setting The Budget: For the 2017 game, local transit agencies in Houston allocated more than $1.4 million specifically for expenses related to the event. Some of that budget provided a free shuttle to get people on their way and alleviate congestion.

› Rave Reviews: In 2016, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority received rave reviews for their performance on game day. Light rail riders called the transportation experience “seamless” and “orderly.” The agency successfully delivered more than 9,500 fans to the game and got them back home without incident.

Lessons Learned 

Of course, not everything goes according to plan, and thanks to the added visibility and stress associated with big events, every fumble is magnified. 

In other years, agencies have struggled to meet the demand for public transportation and manage its effects on their normal service levels. This led to frustrated riders and negative publicity because people didn’t have the real-time information they needed to get where they needed to go.

Championship parades can also prove incredibly disruptive to public transit systems and riders. Major streets and intersections typically remain closed for hours before and after the confetti falls. This forces alternative routes and irregular schedules to get fans to the parade and help everyday riders avoid congestion.  

In 2018, AC Transit put our VoIP communication solution, Celrado, to the test when the city of Oakland hosted a victory parade for the Golden State Warriors. Celrado passed the stress test with flying colors. Watch the case study below to hear about the agency's experience firsthand.


The Key To Victory: Communications

Whether disruption occurs due to a big game or a big snowstorm, it's essential to have a plan in place. That’s precisely why we built our Disruption Management Module for CleverCAD®. Dispatchers, planners, managers, drivers, and passengers can all be on the same page with the same real-time information. Agencies can reroute vehicles and communicate these changes in real-time, eliminating manual delays and processes.

In many large metropolitan cities, various agencies like police, fire, and transportation share bandwidth on the city’s land mobile radio network. In the case of an emergency or when large crowds gather in a small geographic area, like during a major sporting event, first responders will always get network priority. If that shared LMR is your only option for voice and data communications, your agency could find itself silenced. With a dedicated VoIP system like Celrado, those concerns are alleviated, and your dispatchers and operators remain in constant contact.

Could your agency use solutions like Disruption Management and Celrado during your city's next big event or game? Let's talk about putting Clever Devices in your starting lineup.

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