SMACKDOWN: NJ Transit slams WWE for big delays after Wrestlemania
EAST RUTHERFORD — Could the next World Wrestling Event feature a steel cage match between WWE chairman Vince McMahon and officials from NJ Transit? Perhaps with Gov. Phil Murphy somewhere in the middle?
Figuratively, that fight could be shaping up.
More than 82,000 fans crowded MetLife Stadium for Sunday night's Wrestlemania 35, which officially ended at 12:30 a.m. Fans took to Twitter to discuss long lines that formed for buses in the parking lot as steady rain fell. Rail riders also reported that trains were full and not moving to take them from the Meadowlands station to Secaucus to catch the next train.
NJ Transit said a last-minute decision by the World Wrestling Federation to extend Wrestlemania past an agreed-upon end time "had significant operational impacts on" its ability to transport train and bus riders after the event, and said it regretted the "extended exiting time."
NJ Transit said it was not made aware of the decision to go beyond a contractually agreed upon end time of 10:30 p.m. until very late Sunday night.
"NJ Transit’s pre-event planning called for the use of six train sets following the event until approximately 1 a.m. based on the WWE’s initial event schedule. The decision to extend this event resulted in our inability to operate some of those trains due to federal requirements limiting train crew hours," the agency said in its statement.
Gov. Phil Murphy at a press event on Thursday said the number of crews available went from six to three for after the event, which he said served as a reminder "of the mess we inherited" from the Christie administration.
"We didn't hire engineers and had too few classes and furloughed them," which left NJ Transit with fewer scheduling options," he said.
The governor also criticized the lack of communication with riders as to what was going on.
“At the end of the day if folks are frustrated they ought to be," Murphy said. "I would have been crazed if I were standing there. And by the way I’m told they weren’t communicated with. They weren’t told was what was going on. It’s completely, utterly, dog ate my homework unacceptable. Period.”
Murphy said the agency will learn from Wrestlemania and recalled the post-Super Bowl issues encountered in 2014 after the game.
“Wrestlemania is the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. It’s unacceptable. Period. We’re fixing it. We’re going to learn from this and I’ll be damned if it happens again," he said.
Murphy said he was at the event for an hour at the start.
"By the end of the evening, we were able to safely transport more than 12,000 customers from MetLife Stadium last night," the agency said.
The agency said it was able to make some last-minute adjustments such as holding the final trains of the night and adding several additional trips between Secaucus and Penn Station New York by utilizing crews and trains from throughout the system."
Representatives of MetLife Statdium have not yet responded to a message seeking comment.
The WWE said in an email it regrets "any inconveniences fans may have experienced with mass transportation after the event.” The company declined to answer if they extended the show beyond an agreed upon time.
Attendance at Wrestlemania 35 was the third-largest in the event's history, surpassed only by more than 101,000 at Texas Stadium in Dallas in 2016 and 93,173 at the old Silverdome for Wrestlemania 3 in 1987.
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