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MBTA safety video urges riders to ‘Safety Bounce’

Hip-hop video encourages courteous commuting

Forget that old-fashioned ode to some guy named Charlie wandering the bowels of the MBTA. The T’s got a brand-new theme song, and it’s called “The Safety Bounce.”

The song and accompanying music video, a hip-hop-inspired rumination on all things transit safety, will debut Wednesday on YouTube and at four of the T’s major stations.

T officials hope the three-minute ditty will teach children headed back to school the perfunctory elements of safe, courteous train travel — mind the gap, don’t blab on a cellphone, hold onto the escalator rails — but also hope that the song’s catchy refrain (“Just bounce, when you ride it out!”) will be a hit among adults, too.


The video, filmed inside T stations in May, will likely garner giggles with shots of the plush polyester Charlie mascot, along with T riders and staff, performing a medley of time-tested hip-hop moves from the ’80s, ’90s, and today.

Who knew that Charlie on the MBTA could get down?

“The Safety Bounce” video was taped inside MBTA stations.MBTA

T officials were quick to point out that the video, which cost about $10,000 to produce, was financed by Titan, the transit advertising firm that contracts with the T.

Still, the MBTA’s general manager, Beverly A. Scott, said she hopes riders get a kick out of it — and pay attention.

“When it comes to safety, sometimes you can say something until you’re blue in the face,” Scott said. With this video, she said, “I felt like we had a little bit of MTV over here.”

The video will play on digital advertising screens at Harvard, Haymarket, Park, and North stations, and will be accompanied by a poster campaign inside trains and buses telling riders to do as the song says: “Let’s all stay alert and let safety flow.”

Additionally, the T will distribute kits of MBTA safety-themed coloring books, whistles, and bouncing balls — Get it? Bounce! — at Boston public schools.


Renita Martin, a lyricist and composer who wrote the words and music for the song, said the song’s refrain is meant to evoke the gentle rhythm of a train “just sort of taking you on the waves, and you’re enjoying the ride in the process.”

Martin said she also hopes it inspires commuters to take on a more laid-back attitude about the minor hiccups that arise.

“Metaphorically, it’s like, ‘relax,’ ” said Martin, 44, who lives in Roxbury. “We all get frustrated, whatever transportation method we use.”

Martin originally submitted three versions of the song: an R&B rendition, an edgier rap mix, and a rock-inspired iteration. The T asked her to meld the first two styles for the final version.

“I thought of Jay-Z a lot, in terms of trying to create something that kind of had an anthemic sort of vibe,” Martin said, “and that people who weren’t necessarily hip-hop-heads could dance to.”

Cedric Crowe, a Boston-based entertainer who rapped the lyrics, said he’s confident that the song’s smooth flow will get commuters grooving.

“I’m assuming it’s going to be, after a while, one of those songs that you’re humming, and you’re like, ‘Ugh, I can’t get it out of my head!’ ” Crowe said.

It’s not the first time a subway public safety campaign has taken the form of a hip-hop video. Last June, after several people fell or were pushed in front of trains on New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a transit workers union released “Stand Back,” to the tune of the 2004 chart-topper “Lean Back,” bringing attention to the need for precautions on the platforms.


“Stand behind the line painted yellow design/So that you don’t throw your life away,” raps the video’s star. “Now stand back, stand back, stand back, stand back.”

Martine Powers can be reached at mpowers@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.