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Taylor Swift is helping to revive an industry that still hasn't recovered from the pandemic: 'Bigger than the Super Bowl'

"Transit systems should adapt to the moment."

Taylor Swift, Eras Tour shows, Public transportation systems

Photo Credit: Getty Images

In a recent mic drop moment, CNN Business reported that in looking for a faster way to get to Eras Tour shows, "Swifties" may be saving our country's public transit systems. 

Public transit systems have struggled to recover from the impact of the pandemic. The most recent estimate from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows use is still down 30% from pre-pandemic levels, but many major authorities like the Chicago Transit Authority, Atlanta's Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), and Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) system reported recent boosts during Taylor Swift's shows.

Swift's shows have a history of benefiting the local economy. CNN reports that analysts for Raymond James claim her recent shows were "bigger than the Super Bowl" for hotels. 

According to CNN, some authorities even used Swift puns to encourage riders using Philly's SEPTA to "shake off" traffic congestion by taking the metro. And it worked. 

Yanfeng Ouyang, a professor in rail and public transit at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said the Taylor Swift effect proves that heavy advertising and catchy campaigns can bring riders back to public transit. 

Public transportation is important because it provides access for lower-income Americans, many of whom don't own cars, and it is central to city economies. Beyond this, it is critical to reducing harmful carbon pollution and reaching net-zero transportation goals. 

The transportation sector is the top contributor of heat-trapping gases in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and getting more people to use public transportation regularly would help reduce this problem. 

While Swift may not have meant to become a public transportation icon and the boost was a one-off for many cities, Matthew Dickens, director of policy development and research at APTA, was reported by Planetizen as saying, "Big events are a chance to introduce new people to the transit system, and that research shows that people who first use transit when they're young are more likely to ride regularly when they're older."

Jim Aloisi, a lecturer of transportation policy and planning at MIT and former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, told CNN that agencies can retain riders by catering to those who may not be going to an office every day but still work outside of the home at places like coffee shops or shared workspaces by offering safer, more frequent, and more reliable off-peak service. 

He said, "The notion that this [is] a nation that functions on a 9 to 5 work mentality is over … transit systems should adapt to the moment."

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