Hero picture
Photo by Pavol Svantner

Public transport makes large events possible (and successful)

  • Global
  • Best practice
  • Crowd management
Public transport moves crowds

Transport leaders assemble to share insights

Public transport is an essential part of making large events successful.

While large events can draw a crowd, it is public transport that gets that crowd to the venue. For example, the most recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar saw 17 million passengers use Doha Metro and 59% of all stadium visitors arrive by metro. With the next FIFA World Cup being held across North America in 2026, American, Canadian, and Mexican operators and authorities met in a workshop hosted by the New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) to prepare.

In partnership with UITP and Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), the workshop invited transport leaders and event-planning experts to share insights and best practices for public transport around large events. This is an important topic for the future of mobility – major gatherings are a catalyst to upgrade public transport systems, which benefits both visitors and residents long after the event finishes.

“A successful FIFA World Cup 2026 will require cross-agency collaboration to ensure transportation infrastructure is reliable, accessible, and accommodates the diverse needs of millions of fans worldwide.”
Dr. Ali Maher
Rutgers CAIT Director
An expert workshop

A collaboration between NJ Transit, Rutgers CAIT, and UITP

To bring together different viewpoints, the workshop gathered experts from around the world in various roles:

  • Alok Jain. Managing Director, Transconsult Asia Limited
  • Bruce Revman. Co-Host City Manager, FIFA NYNJ
  • Christopher Reyes. Senior Manager, Operations Liaison and Planning, Los Angeles Metro
  • Conan Cheung. Chief Operating Officer, Los Angeles Metro
  • Elodie Hanen. Deputy Director, Île-de-France Mobilités
  • Felicia L. Alexander. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, USDOT
  • Jose R. Tirado. Sergeants, NJ Transit
  • Kevin Corbett. President and CEO, NJ Transit
  • Lauren LaRusso. Co-Host City Manager and General Counsel, FIFA NYNJ
  • Nicolas Boichon. Transport Engineer, Île-de-France Mobilités
  • Roberto Labarthe. New Business Executive, Grupo CCR
  • Sir Peter Hendy. Ex-TfL Commissioner (during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games)
  • Stefano Manelli. Director Citec Turin, Head of Major Events, EPFL/PoliTO

From the Olympics to the Superbowl and megastar concerts, public transport always supports the success of events. As agreed during the workshop, to do this well public transport operators and authorities focus on both preparedness and execution. Working together with other sectors is crucial in this. What time does the event start? How many tickets have been sold? Should there be extra services to handle the spike demand, and if so, where?

Indeed, there are many choices that operators and authorities must make together – and the sheer scale of many events adds enormous pressure. The London 2012 Olympics generated 8.2 million ticket sales. For each visitor, public transport is an invaluable part of the experience and a powerful way for a city to project an image to the world. Of course, the same goes for this year’s Olympics and Paralympics in Paris.

Île-de-France Mobilités’ ambitious plan to serve the twin tournaments relied on three basic data points that the authority could not know nor enact alone: maximum venue capacities, the full sports calendar, and traffic data from previous Olympic games in other cities. From this, Paris plans to place 5,000 customer service staff in stations, install special wayfinding signage, release a dedicated trip planner app, and increase the total public transport offer by 15%.

  • 25

    venues across Paris

  • 50

    sessions per day

  • 500,000

    daily spectators

Best practice for large events

Insights from the workshop

Large events are increasing in complexity too, making it important for public transport to adapt to them and work collaboratively. Many, like the 2026 FIFA World Cup, will be spread over various cities (New Jersey and New York will host eight matches including the final), some like the Olympics use several locations across one city – often simultaneously – and others like concerts attract massive amounts of people to sometimes smaller cities. While Taylor Swift’s famous Eras Tour attracted 700,000 people (and £300 million) to megacity London, it also drew 200,000 people to a stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts – a town of just 18,000 people. Foxborough will also host matches at the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

To prepare for future large events, participants at the workshop shared best practices on topics including crowd management, security and cyber security, potential new branding, integrated ticketing, travel information, wayfinding, and how to minimise the interference with regular passengers. To be sure, there are many things to consider as an operator, especially the effect on staff. Employee wellbeing must be taken into account during big events – for staff these events mean busier, harder work. So that requires a strategy for time off between events, maybe additional volunteers through partner agencies, and also pausing routine internal meetings.

Each topic plays a key role in the overall events strategy for public transport operators and authorities; a strategy that strengthens partnerships and preparedness and improves public transport for both visitors and citizens alike.

“Workshops such as this are an opportunity to learn from cities which have hosted large events and allow for the sector to become more informed, to adopt best practices, and to implement these new learnings in their own companies to best prepare them for increased usage of their network. I’m pleased that our partnership with NJ TRANSIT and Rutgers CAIT continues to offer such rich resources.”
Mohamed Mezghani
UITP Secretary General

More on crowd management

13 May. 24

Investing in Technologies for Passenger Flow and Crowd Management

Improving passenger flow is key to aligning capacity and operational costs with travel demand. With growing pressure on the availability of drivers, subsidies, and fare revenue, optimal resource use is very important. Discover the ins and outs of how technology can boost the efficiency of crowd management.
Subscribe to UITP newsletters and updates
This website uses cookies

This website uses third-party website tracking technologies to give you the best experience, help us understand and continually improve how the site works, and to display advertisements according to users' interests. You consent to the use of our cookies by continuing to browse this website.

Cookies page
  • Essentials Essentials

    Those cookies are essentials to the functioning of the site and cannot be disabled in our systems. They are generally set as a response to actions you take that constitute a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in, or filling out forms. You can set your browser to block or be notified of these cookies, but some parts of the website may be affected. These cookies do not store any personally identifying information.


    Cloudflare uses various cookies to maximize network resources, manage traffic, and protect our customers’ sites from malicious traffic.


    Cookie that remembers the user’s cookie settings preferences. It allows to avoid asking the user about their preferences each time they visit the website.

  • Performance

    This Google Analytics cookie is used to persist session state. Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic anonymously.


    This Google Analytics cookie is created when you first visit our site. It contains the version of Google Analytics, a randomly generated ID and a datetime group of your first visit. Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic anonymously.

    _ga_(STREAM ID)

    This Google Analytics cookie is used to persist session state. Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic anonymously.

This website uses cookies

We use cookies and similar techonologies to adjust your preferences, analyze traffic and measure the effectiveness of campaigns. You consent to the use of our cookies by continuing to browse this website.