ORLANDO, Fla. – Officials from the City of Orlando say they plan to do a long-term study on how to ease traffic trouble for huge events downtown after two big events on Saturday brought nightmare travel stories from frustrated fans.
On Saturday night, city officials say more than 100,000 people poured into the downtown area around the same time, with about 66,000 attending the University of Florida-University of Miami game at Camping World Stadium and another 15,000 who attended the Backstreet Boys concert at the Amway Center, including thousands more who celebrated but didn't go to either event.
They say the two big events let out within five minutes of each other, causing a traffic congestion mess that left some fans sharing stories of being stranded downtown.
"I felt bad for my city," said Lake Mary Gator fan David Devore. "We love Orlando and love it when events like this happen for our city and for it to go so poorly for the people who were there...it just seemed like it could have been a lot better from the leadership handling the logistics."
Devore parked his car at the garage near City Hall and took a Camping World Shuttle to get to the game. However, after the game was over, the shuttles were so overwhelmed, he and his son had no choice but to walk back.
Orlando City Officials say the SunRail does not run on the weekends and they didn't have special bus routes for the event, other than the Camping World shuttle.
"It was like hundreds of us just walking up Church Street," Devore said. "It was like 45 minutes. It was from the stadium all the way to City Hall."
Another fan sent News 6 a statement about their experience, not able to get a single Uber, sitting at the McDonald's near Jones High School with other fans also trying to get transportation. They waited two hours before they finally got a $90 Uber ride.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said the city is already aware of some of the troubles fans ran into this weekend and said his department did bring in additional resources and worked with other law enforcement agencies to help with safety and security and road closures.
He said the city does plan to debrief this weekend's events later this week.
"Moving forward again we are going to review everything that happened this weekend and if there is room for modification, and I'm sure there will be room for modification, we will make those," Rolon said.
Karyn Barber, an Orlando city spokesperson, told News 6 on the phone this is a good problem to have as the city of Orlando continues to draw in big events. However, in an email statement she also said they have long-term plans to address the traffic troubles in and around downtown.
"As downtown continues to be the place that people want to be, the city continues to address the issues of traffic congestion following multiple large scale events occurring simultaneously. In addition to a standard debrief meeting happening later this week with city traffic and public safety officials, the city is in the process of procuring the services of a consultant experienced in developing traffic management and parking plans for large events in urban settings, with a traffic management study expected to begin later this year," she wrote.