Red Line operator tells commuters to go vote, sings ‘What the World Needs Now is Love’
It was a spot of sunshine on an otherwise dreary and wet election day with a lot at stake at the polls.
An MBTA Red Line operator Tuesday morning delivered a heartfelt message over the loudspeaker as commuters prepared to exit the train, garnering praise for her impromptu speech.
As the Ashmont-bound train neared Park Street around 8 a.m., the operator — T officials identified her as Gwen McLean — took the opportunity to remind departing passengers to be good to each other and offered her blessings to those on board.
McLean ended her dispatch with this: “Let’s have a bright and sunny day. I wish you all a wonderful, wonderful week. And again, I do thank you for your ridership.”
Our #MBTA operator just sang a verse from “What the world needs now” over the loud speaker, offered us blessings, reminded us to be good to each other, and then encouraged riders to get out and vote today. Only caught a snippet at the end: pic.twitter.com/jzSnnGCuoQ— Steve Annear (@steveannear) November 6, 2018
The unscripted advisory was well-received by those on board. One person in a train car that a Globe reporter happened to be riding on began to clap. Others simply smiled.
Passengers took to Twitter to thank McLean, who has been working for the T for 10 years, for injecting a bit of positivity into their daily morning commute.
“Gratitude to the Red Line conductor who made the usual ‘thank you for riding the T’ announcement, including a blessing of ‘hope, peace, joy, love, but most of all, love,’” one person wrote, “then sang ‘What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love.’”
Another conceded that sometimes taking the MBTA “isn’t so bad.”
“My MBTA conductor just went over the loud speaker to sing what the world needs now is love sweet love and reminded everyone to vote,” the person tweeted.
Gratitude to the Red Line conductor who made the usual "thank you for riding the T" announcement, including a blessing of "hope, peace, joy, love, but most of all, love" then sang "What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love."— technogoddess (@technogoddess) November 6, 2018
"AND DONT FORGET TO VOTE!"@MBTA
My T driver this morning serenaded is with “What the World Needs Now” and then said, “I love that song but it’s really not true, the world also needs us all to vote.”— Elizabeth McIntyre (@eamcintyre) November 6, 2018
The operator certainly isn’t the first T employee to offer a unique twist on travel announcements.
According to an MBTA spokesman, Green Line operator Tim Murphy has quite the fanbase.
Tweets from riders show that Murphy pumps “random bits of trivia and history on Boston public transportation in between stops” over the loudspeaker, something he’s apparently been doing for more than a year.
He also explains “to the new students in town all about train safety,” one passenger tweeted last month.
And of course, there’s Allen Freeman, a Red Line operator who is known for sounding like an announcer at a thoroughbred racetrack when he tells riders where they’re headed.
His signature style goes something like this: “Doors-open-on-the-left-side-of-the-train. Ash-mont. Traaain. Ash-mont!”
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in e-mail that the transit agency’s general manager, Luis Ramirez, “strongly believes there is a direct connection between employee morale and customer experience.”
“If train operators like Gwen and Tim can put a few smiles on the faces of daily commuters, that’s a gratifying moment in an otherwise mundane commute,” he said. “The O’Jays put it best: People all over the world, Join hands, Start a love train, love train.”