Taylor Swift vs. Nationals – Hit Singles, but No Home Run

July 17th, 2015

Ridership from neither of the two back-to-back sold-out Taylor Swift concerts at Nationals Park this week generated as many riders as an average Nationals baseball game.

Entries at Navy Yard by fifteen-minute period, Orange and Gray were nights of the Taylor Swift concerts.

Pop star Taylor Swift brought her 1989 tour to Washington this week, playing two sold-out concerts at Nationals Park, adjacent to the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metrorail station.  According to Swift, approximately 45,000 people attended each concert.  That’s a lot higher than a normal Nationals game, as the concert had seating on the floor as well as in the stands.  One would hope that such big crowds would bump up Metrorail ridership higher than the Nats.  You might be disappointed.

The two shows did cause huge spikes in our ridership, as visible in the chart above.  However, the mode share of these customers was a lot lower than our usual ballgame ridership.  As we reported in December, around one-third of Nats fans take Metrorail home from the ballpark, an average of 11,000 additional trips per game day/night.  The two nights of Taylor Swift generated around 7,300 trips on the first night and 9,000 trips the second.  With an attendance of 45,000, that comes out to only a 20% mode share instead of baseball’s 33%.  Why might this be?

It’s likely that the concert goers were a different demographic than our usual Nats game attendees:  the concert attendees were likely younger, less likely to work downtown, and more likely to be shuttled to the concert by a parent or chaperone.  Keeping this in mind, it seems reasonable that despite the much larger event, we would count fewer trips than after a Nats game.

For those who did take Metro home from the Taylor Swift concerts, where did they go afterwards?


Station exits for the additional trips leaving the Taylor Swift concerts. Data represents the total for both nights.  Click image for interactive version.

As would be expected, a lot of the additional ridership traveled to terminal stations, with additional blips along the Green/Yellow corridor within DC.   Smaller increases appear along the Rosslyn/Ballston Corridor, Arlington/Alexandria portion of Blue/Yellow, and along the Red Line, especially at Dupont Circle, Bethesda and Grosvenor.  Click the image above for an interactive/downloadable version.

Did you attend either of the shows, and if so where did Metrorail rank on your list of choices for how to get home?  Do you have any other thoughts why the Metrorail mode share was lower than a Nats game?

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  1. easy to see
    July 20th, 2015 at 14:53 | #1

    Lots of green dots at the end of the lines? Methink you had many teen/tween girls being driven by their parents in minivans to the Metro stations. Good on them for taking transit!

  2. July 21st, 2015 at 10:17 | #2

    It’s not all end-of-line stations, it’s specifically the ones that are on interstate highways. Much less at Glenmont or Branch Ave. The ridership must be weighted heavily toward far outer suburbs and maybe even farther out, compared to commuting. (I don’t know how this compares to baseball, but I certainly see lots of baseball fans getting on at Bethesda and Dupont Circle.)

  3. Swift Fan
    July 21st, 2015 at 10:31 | #3

    If the concert ended earlier, more people would have probably used the metro. On Monday night, the concert ended at 11:45 – which leaves 15 minutes to navigate the crowds to head over to Navy Yard and hope to make the transfer. I took my out-of-town sister to the concert and we ended up just taking a bus home to avoid that stress.

    Baseball games don’t usually run up against that issue.

  4. Kevin M.
    July 21st, 2015 at 10:48 | #4

    ^Swift Fan there was an extra hour of service for the concert, meaning that there were 75 minutes, not 15.

    I would chalk this lower ridership up to unfamiliarity with the system.

  5. sproc
    July 21st, 2015 at 11:12 | #5

    I would also add that it’s safe to say that vastly more alcohol is consumed at a Nats game (not sure if they had sales or not at the concerts), making mass transit much safer and more appealing.

  6. K
    July 21st, 2015 at 12:26 | #6

    I’m a transit fan who attended the Tuesday concert. I made a decision in advance to split an Uber home with friends because we all have such negative memories of taking transit home from evening Nats games (twenty minute waits between trains? Adding in transferring to the red line? On a night I am going to work the next day? No thank you.) While I did know that trains would still be running, it was not worth it to me to factor in possibly waiting forty minutes total for a train. We all took metro to get to the concert.

    When I go to evening Nats games and am taking transit, I always leave early because of the waits. To be honest, it’s decreased my attendance at Nats games as I’ve gotten older and become a lot less tolerant of the wait.

    To me, that’s the issue with getting more people taking metro outside of rush hour. Many car-free people I know avoid taking metro on weekends and rely on the bus or Uber because they don’t want to factor in weekend wait times. It’s a self perpetuating system, though – less people take transit, you have less need to run regular trains.

    Yes, some people will be willing to factor in an additional forty minutes of time in getting home. But a lot of people won’t. If I had been guaranteed ten minute waits (on both the green and red lines) I would have been more confident in taking transit.

    (Idea: maybe more Nats fans live on the green line? If I lived on the green line I would have been willing to take transit.)

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