SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — The 49ers will play first game in their new home in a preseason game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority officials say they are prepared to get football fans to Levi’s Stadium after a soccer match two weeks ago did not go smoothly.
On Aug. 4, an estimated 48,000 fans came to watch the San Jose Earthquakes beat the Seattle Sounders at Levi’s Stadium, and many had to suffer through long waits trying to get to the game and then to get back home.
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VTA spokeswoman Colleen Valles told KCBS that adjustments have been made and more service has been added.
“We are going to be putting out more trains to handle the crowds and then we are going to be supplementing our train service with bus service,” she said.
“Trains, when they get to downtown San Jose–if they are coming from the southern ends of the line– might be full so we are going to have bus service so that people aren’t getting passed up at the station, and that will help with crowding on the trains.”
VTA’s express bus service to the stadium had 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.
This time, Valles said, there will also be additional light-rail cars in service for return trips because of the availability of a “pocket track” which provides space for three three-car trains that can be deployed.
“Each of those trains can hold 450 people so that would be about 1,350 people extra capacity,” she said.
The $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium, with a seating capacity for 68,500 fans.
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.
To address problems for people driving to the stadium, planners will watch cameras at key choke points and make real time adjustments to traffic lights to ease the flow.
” You have traffic engineers that can remotely change those traffic signals. They’ve been tested. They’ve been proven that they are working. Now it’s just understanding the timing it takes to make a diversion,” said Levi’s Stadium operations director Jim Mercurio.
Traffic light syncing was off two weeks ago when the San Jose Earthquakes hosted a soccer game at Levi’s Stadium. Fans were left stuck in parking lot gridlock for more than an hour.
Also, Santa Clara traffic officers and parking attendants will be redeployed to more and better locations. Officials said there will also be fewer lanes closed off with traffic cones.