Despite power outages and brake problems, transit during Super Bowl week flowed smoothly

The biggest battle on Super Bowl Sunday wasn’t necessarily on the field.  

For city planners, it was the massive effort to get thousands of ticket holders through security and into US Bank Stadium efficiently.  

For Metro Transit, the known challenges came with some extra obstacles on game day, but no one knew how difficult the job became for their workers because they fixed everything so quickly.

The first problem: a power outage at the main train yard between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. that alarmed authorities almost immediately. 

“There’s that split second or a couple of minutes where you are wondering is this an intentional act or activity going on as a result of all of this,”  says Brian Funk, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Metro Transit.

With trains due to pick up passengers at 12:30 p.m., there was a lot of hustle to get the lights back on. As it turns out, they were drawing a lot of power off the system during the Transit Police inspection and were able to fix the problem in roughly 50 minutes.

“We had done a lot of exercises, prep and planning,” said Vince Pellegrin, Chief Operating Officer for Metro Transit. Pellegrin says they’d prepared for so many scenarios that they knew what to do, ultimately jumping the tracks just like you’d jump a car with a dead battery.

Once the trains were rolling to get ticket holders, another problem arose: the lead train headed into the Mall of America had its brakes go out. It’s not a common problem, but probably happened as a result of the cold weather. Luckily, Metro Transit had mechanics in the field and the brakes were fixed within 15 minutes.  

Pellegrin, who worked in Los Angeles during the 1984 Olympics and later in New York City Metro Transit, says the preparation paid off and that other cities are now calling on Minneapolis to speak at industry conferences.  

“We learned some really good lessons from the Super Bowl that we are going to use for the Final Four,” says Funk. “There's never a dull moment, we’ll be ready."