Editor's Notebook: Transit Industry’s Summer MVP: Taylor Swift

June 6, 2023
With Swift’s Eras Tour set to hit major cities throughout the summer, transit agencies need to ask themselves if they’re ‘Ready for It.’

The horde arrives at night donned in various hues of pink, red or even black. Cowboy hats, tank tops, dresses and sequins will be spotted. To those outside of a certain demographic (anyone considered elder Generation X or older), the only hint as to what this gaggle of humanity has in common can be found in the concert t-shirts some wear with several images of the same blond woman on them. This mob is known collectively as Swifties, and they are fans of one of the top music performers in the world: Taylor Swift.

Swift can sell out arenas on consecutive nights and since her “Eras” Tour began this past March in Arizona, her legion of fans has provided local economies, including the transit industry, a measurable boost that is both welcoming and intimidating.

In Atlanta, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority carried 140,000 people the weekend Swift performed, triple the number of weekend riders it typically sees. Systems in Philadelphia and Houston also saw bumps in weekend ridership when Swift came to town. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail tickets to Gillette Stadium for the Swift concert initially sold out before Keolis Commuter Services, which operates the rail service, released additional tickets.

This kind of activity has caught the eye of transit’s social media users. Videos of Swift’s fans riding transit have been entertaining, including one in Atlanta when a rider on a train captured the moment it pulled into a station passing packed platforms of fans; fellow riders can be heard expressing themselves at various levels of shock and exasperation as to what was going to happen the moment the doors opened. Some videos have also been heartwarming, including one from Philadelphia where a train car full of young Swift fans collectively sings one of her songs. There are also more and more “how to” videos cropping up on social media platforms, detailing how concert goers can take transit to upcoming concerts.

While transit systems cannot be built or sustained on special event services, they certainly can offer an introduction to riders of these services that transit is a viable travel option. Maybe in the next 10 to 15 years, Mass Transit will have the opportunity to highlight a transit leader who shares their first transit experience involved the bus and a Taylor Swift concert or singing on that SEPTA train with a group a strangers.

So, heads up Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Mo., Denver, Seattle, Santa Clara, Calif., and Los Angeles: Time to polish off your special event plans and let your marketing departments loose on promotions because Swift will be arriving this summer, and she’s bringing her fans. Are you ready?

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.