These local residents campaigned to get googly eyes on MBTA trains. They accomplished their mission: ‘We’re thrilled.’ - The Boston Globe (2024)

More pics direct from @MBTA HQ. This is the greatest timeline to be a MBTA rider. pic.twitter.com/NMscmXEiqm

— ariloo 🌱 (@ariellelok) June 26, 2024

Now, while waiting to catch the train — four Green Line trains and one on the commuter rail, to be exact — some lucky riders will be greeted by a googly-eyed stare-down. Truly, a sight to behold.

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Pesaturo confirmed he contacted the group to let them know that the agency had taken up their suggestion to, as Lok put it, “get eyes on the T.”

“Our team found a safe way to install these ‘googly’ eyes on a limited number of vehicles ... as part of our ongoing efforts to bring moments of joy to our riders’ daily commutes,” he said in a statement.

Lok, a Somerville resident who helped organize the campaign, was thrilled when she got his email, telling Pesaturo “this is the best news we’ve ever received in our inboxes.”

“Thank you so much for implementing our vision into the MBTA and we can only imagine ridership skyrocketing from this moment on,” she wrote.

Lok said the idea behind the googly eyes was simple.

“Our vision was to give the T vision,” Lok said in an interview with her co-organizer, John Sanchez, 22, who lives in Cambridge.

After Lok got the news from Pesaturo, she immediately ran to tell Sanchez they had accomplished their mission. They shared a big hug.

“That is exactly what we called for and what we got,” she said. “We wanted to be seen by our transit system. We wanted to add a little bit of whimsy. We wanted riders to look in the eyes of the T and feel something.”

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“A piece of this was about: How do we bring more joy into the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Bostonians who use the transit system every day?” Sanchez said. “We’re thrilled that the MBTA has come through for us.”

Together, they organized an April march attended by a few dozen people (most of whom were strangers to Lok and Sanchez). They brandished signs with googly eyes and messages such as “AlEYEwife” and “A T that sees its riders.” A couple of T employees even joined to “share a laugh” with the group, Lok said.

“I think one of them actually brought a giant googly eye to Phillip Eng and put it on his desk,” she said. “So I really think that was the final cornerstone of this movement. We got an eye in his office.”

One observer noted that the googly-eyed trains appeared to make their debut a couple of weeks ago.

These local residents campaigned to get googly eyes on MBTA trains. They accomplished their mission: ‘We’re thrilled.’ - The Boston Globe (1)

Pesaturo didn’t specify when the decals were first installed but said they are one of several “creative ways” the MBTA is working to improve riders’ experiences. Other initiatives include voice-over announcements from children, in-station musical performances, and a “Share the Love” campaign.

“We hope these initiatives ... will continue to be a source of community connection,” he said.

Boston being Boston, people didn’t hesitate to poke fun at the googly-eyed trains, or to offer more sweeping proposals, such as having “trains that are on time, clean, [and] do not catch on fire during morning commutes, causing passengers to jump into rivers.”

“MBTA: Best we can do is googly eyes,” quipped one rider.

“I think it’s ok to think this is silly and fun while also acutely noticing how @MBTA PR folks treat real advocate pushes (acknowledging slow zones, etc.) vs. silly headline-generating moments,” one person wrote.

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Others applauded the group, with one person posting that they are “obsessed with these people who ran a protest to get the MBTA to add Google eyes to their vehicles and won.”

“Can’t wait to see an MBTA train with googly eyes on fire become a niche meme,” another added.

Self-described “big fans of the MBTA,” Lok and Sanchez said they believe the googly-eyed vehicles have brought joy into people’s lives. They have already given the trains names: Frog, Gorf, Forg, and Grof for the Green Line (after a “Sesame Street” sketch) and Vilas for the commuter rail — “just because he looks like a Vilas,” Lok said.

A frequent Red Line rider, Sanchez said he feels most connected to the city and its residents when on the train. Meanwhile, Lok said she is “beyond ecstatic” that four of the decorated trains are on the Green Line, her favorite.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing it wheel up and smile at me,” she said.

“Now it’s up to the broader people to convince the MBTA to spread googly eyes far and wide,” Sanchez said.

These local residents campaigned to get googly eyes on MBTA trains. They accomplished their mission: ‘We’re thrilled.’ - The Boston Globe (2)

Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her @shannonlarson98.

These local residents campaigned to get googly eyes on MBTA trains. They accomplished their mission: ‘We’re thrilled.’ - The Boston Globe (2024)
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