The slow-motion stampede of LIRR riders inched its way toward train platforms while vowing to never attempt mass transit from Belmont ever again.
About one-third of the more than 100,000 who attended the Belmont Stakes Saturday arrived on a LIRR train and MTA officials are admitting they never expected such a massive amount of people.
"We've never had that kind of ridership before at Belmont. . . .Thirty-six thousand people arrived at Belmont between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and they all wanted to leave within the same 60 minutes," LIRR spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said, according to Newsday.
New LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski publicly warned racegoers of such a situation last week, saying, "We will take you right to the grandstands. . . . After the event, we will take you home…The only problem there is everybody can't leave at once," Nowakowski said in Newsday.
Patch readers have already reacted to the mass exodus following the races.
Glenda said, "It was awful. It took us an hour and a half to go from the track to the shuttle. We shuffled a few feet every 15 to 20 minutes. I will never put myself in that position again. They predicted 100,000 people so it shouldn't have been a surprise that it would happen. Why weren't they better prepared ? They lost my attendance ever again. I have been taking the train for the Belmont Stakes for years and never experienced anything like it before."
Vinny Lee said, "We took a free NYRA shuttle bus from Jericho TPKE and Tulip. No problem going to track. Going home was a different story! After waiting over 90 minutes we were informed that the Shuttle bus is unable to enter track due to a horrendous traffic jam! We decided to walk over 2 miles to our car and return home to Rocky Pt. at 1130PM. Extremely poor traffic management. This was not the first Belmont Stakes and the Authorities should have done their homework re Traffic Management."
"Never again!" said Get Off My Lawn simply.
Should LIRR have better prepared for the Belmont crowds? Is it a matter of having enough trains or does the infrastructure need a total overhaul? Should LIRR riders have known better than to leave all at once or does the LIRR need to better prepare for crowding? Tell us in the comments below and vote in our poll.