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Taylor Swift fans flocked to local transit after Friday’s curfew-defying Eras Tour show at Levi’s Stadium

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SANTA CLARA — Taylor Swift may be right that, “Nothin’ good starts in a getaway car.”

The universe’s biggest pop music star has already proved a boon for several Bay Area public transit agencies, after Swift’s record-breaking Eras Tour wrapped up at Levi’s Stadium Friday night — even though the three-hour, curfew-breaking show threw a small wrench into passenger wait times and train schedules.

Concertgoers shared scenes of the post-show chaos on social media, as throngs of Swifties donning glittery cowboy hats and colorful friendship bracelets slowly migrated from Levi’s Station to nearby parking lots and transit stations on their journeys back home.

Fortunately, it appears that no one was stranded at local stations — a feat local agencies are hoping will assure fans that they can rely on public transit once again for Saturday’s sold-out show.

While Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority originally planned to run extra bus and light rail lines for “up to an hour following the event,” VTA spokesperson Stacey Hendler Ross confirmed that the last train left at 1:30 a.m. — roughly two hours after the concert finally ended.

The station was already anticipating a wave during Swift’s weekend in the South Bay — and planned to distribute 1,000 VTA-themed friendship bracelets crafted by San Jose’s Bohemian Moon Art — but early ridership numbers available by Saturday morning already surpassed all of the agency’s records.

An estimated 23,400 people boarded VTA light rail to and from Levi’s Stadium — easily smashing the previous record of 15,000 passengers tallied during the 2015 NHL Winter Classic, and more than double the 10,000 people who rode to and from Super Bowl 50 in 2016. VTA’s light rail, which runs right past the stadium, typically transports about 8,000 passengers to and from regular football games, Ross said.

After Swift played her last song, each VTA train car at the station was loaded close to its average 150-person capacity. But some of the delays were due to the number of new riders navigating lines and ticket fares for the first time.

Ross said VTA started planning for the massive event last spring, and ultimately added 20 train cars — for a total of about 85 — and an estimated 100 additional operators to manage stadium service, which boosted ridership capacity by 30% between 4:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., when the platform was officially cleared.

“It was just a crush of people in line — a little bit chaotic for the average person being out there in this huge crowd,” Ross said, adding that VTA usually clears lines of waiting passengers within an hour of Levi’s Stadium events ending. “Right now, we’re reevaluating what we can do to accommodate the crowds tonight. Obviously, it’s not ideal for people to have to wait an hour or an hour-and-a-half to get on a train, but when there are 12,000 people in front of you, sometimes that happens.”

Ross said that while BART held service “as long as they could” to help VTA’s passengers get home, she heard that some people who left the concert late might have arrived at BART stations after service had ended for the night. BART has not returned requests for comment, and it’s unclear if people were possibly stranded or what they did afterwards.

Caltrain also kept its transit lines running longer than expected Friday night. Officials originally said that the last train would depart the Mountain View Station towards San Francisco 75 minutes after the end of the concert. However, spokesperson Dan Lieberman confirmed Saturday that the last train departed at 2:02 a.m. with 329 people on board.

He said the agency is offering another special post-event train Saturday evening, which is still tentatively scheduled to leave 75 minutes after the end of the show or when capacity is full, but the train’s departure will be delayed to wait for passengers after the show, if need be.

“All and all,” Lieberman said, “(it was) a successful evening we expect to repeat tonight.”

Most Amtrak passengers successfully made it onto the last Capitol Corridor train leaving Santa Clara’s Great America station, which started rolling only 15 minutes past its originally scheduled 11:59 p.m. departure, according to spokesperson Vernae Graham.

All told, more than 600 passengers travelled on Capitol Corridor trains to and from the Santa Clara Great America station Friday, Graham said, and Amtrak has not received any reports of stranded passengers near Levi’s Stadium.

Graham confirmed that none of Saturday’s train schedules are impacted or changed, adding that “Swifties boarded trains in a timely fashion” on Friday.

Even though Swift was appointed the honorary mayor of “Swiftie Clara” during her visit, it’s unclear if she will face penalties for breaking the stadium’s 11 p.m. weekend curfew, which was established in November 2021.

In 2017, the city fined the 49ers $1,000 when U2 broke the curfew during the band’s world tour of their 1987 album “Joshua Tree.”

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