Ultra Music Festival is in the middle of a lot of hot water this morning.
Fans leaving late from the venue took to the internet to voice their frustrations over the shuttle transports not reaching them. Facebook posts and tweets of attendees walking over three miles on one of Miami’s most prolific causeways began to flood social media sites in viral fashion.
This weekend, Ultra Music Festival has been hosting what they describe their “new chapter” at Miami Marine Stadium and the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. After a full day of incredible performances from electronic musicians, artists, and DJs, Ultra experienced issues with transportation reaching pick-up stations to take attendees from Virginia Key to locations between Downtown Miami and Coconut Grove.
However, as attendees made their way to be picked up by the shuttles, they experienced a growing delay from the transportation. Some UMF attendees were picked up and whisked off the island (albeit through an abundance of traffic), but others who waited for hours learned that all the corresponding shuttle pick-up locations were not seeing any buses picking attendees up but one. This lone shuttle pick-up spot became bloated with fans to the point that attendees who didn’t leave past 11:30pm would be in for a long night.
As time passed, the line was in trouble. It became longer, more disorganized and people were wearing their impatience on their face. Other attendees began walking towards the Rickenbacker Causeway (the only way into and out of Key Biscayne) to not have to deal with the delayed shuttles. To make matters worse, attendees were told by security and police that they could not walk to and cross the Rickenbacker Causeway and that they had to take the shuttles to leave Virginia Key. This meant that tens of thousands of people were stuck at Ultra Music Festival and had to be lucky enough to be able to get into a bus while maintaining their parties and exhaustion from the day.
But then things got ugly.
Fireworks from the final main stage performance of the day by Marshmello might have been the cause of a fire that engulfed a palm tree near the one shuttle pick-up station. Attendees initially told by authorities to back-up closer to the festival and away from traffic immediately scattered away from the flames and towards the causeway. Outnumbered authorities gave way as Ultra’s tens of thousands of fans walked about three miles across the Rickenbacker Causeway. Meanwhile, shuttles, taxis, and any other vehicle on the causeway were gridlocked for hours on the road and bridge attendees were walking to get back home.
Posts like the one from @Tidoublemy8 showed video of fans walking over the bridge as it became what many referred to as the only viable and realistic option to leave Virginia Key.
Tens of thousands of people leaving @Ultra to walk 3 miles across a bridge (blocking traffic) because it was the only realistic option. Cabs weren’t running, uber was restricted, and shuttle lines were hours long. Terrible planning! An embarrassment. #ultra2019 #fyrefestival pic.twitter.com/vjoC6fFOd5
— Tidoublemy (@Tidoublemy8) March 30, 2019
Others online took to lampooning whatever they could over Ultra’s transportation issues.
the PR department for Ultra rn. pic.twitter.com/yp8xwWCHNP
— savvy savage 🐇🍄 (@savpardo) March 30, 2019
Everyone at Ultra rn pic.twitter.com/qsWoUGEBfF
— Diego (@_diegolv_) March 30, 2019
Many attendees left as late as 4am when the event had ended two hours earlier. And those in vehicles in Virginia Key remained put through unmoving traffic. Some attendees even considered selling their tickets for the rest of the weekend, not only from the fatigue that came with walking the far distance, but also due to Ultra’s logistical issues.
“Changes to the transportation plan are being implemented today,” Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said in a statement. “I’m hopeful that plan will be much improved and the City will not have more of a disruption than experienced yesterday and early this morning.”
Stephanie Bromfield, a media relations coordinator at Ultra, said festival organizers met with municipal and emergency service officials on Saturday morning ahead of a planned press conference to be held before noon near Miami Marine Stadium.
Photo via aLIVE Coverage for Ultra