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SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has been assessing ways to improve carrying fans to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for Sunday’s first 49ers game after the first event there earlier this month included long wait times and overcrowded light-rail cars, an agency spokeswoman said.
The VTA moved about 9,000 people to the stadium for the August 2nd San Jose Earthquakes’ soccer match against the Seattle Sounders FC, with 8,300 taking the agency’s light-rail system and 700 coming in express buses, VTA spokeswoman Colleen Valles said.
“There are a lot of things that went well and some things did not go right,” Valles said. “We have a lot of things to look at, what worked, what didn’t work.”
On the positive side, VTA’s express bus service to the stadium worked well and passengers also transferred smoothly from Caltrain trains to the light-rail station in Mountain View to get to the match, according to VTA officials.
But other light-rail riders had a more difficult time. Wait times for people trying to get on trains ranged from 15 minutes to an hour and was the worst after the match at the Great America station on Tasman Drive, Valles said.
Too many passengers at times crammed into the light-rail vehicles and “the cars would get packed,” she said.
At one point, one of the light-rail trains lost power and stalled while taking passengers to the stadium.
The air conditioning went down and stayed off during the hot summer day even after power was restored and the train resumed its run, Valles said.
The transit agency might decide to deploy more light-rail trains at different times to deal with the wait times and overcrowding during future big events at Levi’s Stadium, according to Valles.
Saturday’s match attracted 48,765 fans to the stadium, where the Earthquakes defeated Seattle 1-0.
The $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium, with a seating capacity for 68,500 fans, is the new home field for the San Francisco 49ers football team, which will have its first game there on Aug. 17, a preseason contest against the Denver Broncos.
The VTA will be in better shape by the 49ers preseason game when its “pocket track” for light-rail will be completed, Valles said.
The track on Tasman Drive will hold in reserve three three-car trains for up to 1,350 passengers that can be sent out to move riders faster during busy times such as when people are departing Levi’s Stadium, she said.
The VTA has also begun a pilot program of charging people $20 a day to park at its River Oaks and Interstate Highway 880/Milpitas light-rail station lots during events at Levi’s, Valles said.
The program, involving a few hundred parking spaces at the stations, is meant to provide a revenue stream for VTA over the course of the 49ers’ first season at Levi’s and will include events other than football games, she said.