As a lifelong New Yorker, for years I have dreamed about a train to the Meadowlands. Sure, there’s always been bus service there. When I was younger, the bus line straight out of Port Authority to the Meadowlands complex was an option for Nets games, albeit an inconvenient one. Buses in general out of New York City in rush hour are a bad idea. The most current mass transit option to the Izod Center is even more of an inconvenience – taking a NJ TRANSIT train to Secaucus and then a shuttle bus to the Izod Center. You’re relying on two separate modes of transportation. A train to a bus and back again isn'’t my idea of a worthwhile commute. Too many transfers, too many modes of transportation. Forget it.
Then, a funny thing happened a few months ago. NJ TRANSIT introduced a new train service direct to the Meadowlands. Yes, it required a transfer at Secaucus, but it was one mode all the way. I can’t even get to work downtown in the morning without a subway transfer, so this new Meadowlands service couldn’t be that bad. There was just one problem – there’s no indication that NJ TRANSIT is going to run the service for Nets games this season. I’m sure it has everything to do with supply and demand economics. Namely, there’s not enough demand for Nets games from New Yorkers like me to justify running a train service when bus shuttles are infinitely cheaper. But as long as there’s a train service that works, there’s a glimmer of hope for me that one day I’ll have a convenient mass transit option to the Izod Center on game days. Even if that glimmer of hope remains slim.
The question now is, does the service work? I got my chance to try it out on Friday night to attend one of the Bruce Springsteen shows at Giants Stadium. I had heard that the train service was a major disaster during the U2 Giants Stadium shows the week before, but for the Springsteen show, I thought the service was pretty effective. The switch was pretty seamless, and the station was well-marked so there was no confusion. There were more than enough trains, and really didn’t hit a single snag until later in the evening, when we had to wait about 20 minutes for a train back to Manhattan. And I more or less blame Bruce for that for playing a 3 hour plus show that ended close to midnight. I can’t envision such a scenario being a problem for Nets games unless the Nets play a quadruple overtime game one night.
I’ve already e-mailed the Izod Center staff to plead for the train service, but no one seems to be budging. It’s no secret that the Nets are having a hard time selling tickets in New Jersey – you would think making their current arena more accessible to the biggest market on the east coast could improve the bottom line. But this is just another example of the bizarre holding pattern this franchise seems to be in until there is more certainty about their geographic location down the road.
And before anyone says it – I am aware that NJ TRANSIT can provide me with a one seat ride from Penn Station to the Prudential Center in Newark.