What’s that new Red Line car saying?

On Tuesday morning, I boarded one of the new Red Line trains at Broadway and was still checking out all of its features when the car pulled into South Station. It was then that I heard the train’s female robotic voice saying something I couldn’t quite make out. It sounded like the car was telling the passengers “no crying.”

I looked around. No one on the car seemed to be weeping, so I figured the robotic voice must be saying something else. Then I heard the voice again, but this time the words she was speaking also appeared on one of the car’s information panels so I could read them. What I thought was “no crying” was actually “no prying.”

I was still puzzled. Was the car telling us not to pry into whatever our fellow passengers were doing? Was it telling us to keep our heads down and not talk to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, no matter how much she wants us to? 

The car moved on to Downtown Crossing and I didn’t hear the voice there. The train moved on to Park Street, where, again, I heard nothing about prying. So I exited the train and called the MBTA to learn why prying was such a big concern.

It turns out that when anyone with a disability is getting on or off one of the new train cars they can push a button that activates some safety measures in the car. The doors open, but initially they only open a few inches as a platform shoots out from underneath the car to provide a metal bridge covering the gap between the car and the station platform. Once the metal bridge is in place, the doors open to the same width, which is slightly smaller than the usual door opening.

During that period when the doors are open only a few inches, the car’s robotic voice says: “GMD is deploying. Please stand away and no prying.” 

The gap mitigation device deploys to connect with the station platform and while it does that the doors open only a couple of inches. Once the deployment is completed the doors open to the width of the gap mitigation device. (Photo courtesy of MBTA)

According to T officials, GMD stands for gap mitigation device — the metal plate that serves as a bridge between the car and the station platform. What the robotic voice means is that during that brief period when the doors are open just a couple of inches, no one should attempt to pry them open further. 

I imagine there will be other mysteries like GMD to unravel as the new fleet of Orange and Red Line cars gets fully rolled out. (Only six new Red Line and 30 new Orange Line cars are in service right now.) It may also make sense to tweak what the car has to say. After all, GMD is not a term most riders are familiar with and, as my experience showed, the “no prying” warning is hard to decipher out of context.




$3 for new Charlie Card: The MBTA unveils a newly designed Charlie Card (without Charlie) and seeks approval to charge $3 for it as part of the rollout of a new fare collection system. The transit authority also wants to require each rider to carry proof of payment, so the popular pass back option, which allowed one person to pass his Charlie Card back to family members or friends in line, will be eliminated. Read more.

Licenses for undocumented: House Speaker Ron Mariano is pushing legislation that would allow the undocumented to obtain Massachusetts driver’s licenses, giving the bill a strong chance of passing if he can garner enough support to override a veto by Gov. Charlie Baker. Supporters of the bill say it has nothing to do with immigration and is more about making sure everyone on the road has insurance and passed a driving test. Read more.

Vax mandate upheld: A state appeals board affirms Gov. Charlie Baker’s authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for state employees, eliminating the final avenue of appeal for a union representing State Police officers. Read more.

T fare revenue rising: MBTA fare revenue is less than half of pre-pandemic levels, but it’s much better than the transit authority had forecasted. Read more.


Biden PLA order panned: David Tuerck and William Burke of the Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research say President Biden’s order on project labor agreements is way off the mark. Read more.





The Senate approves its plan to control the cost of prescription drugs. (Gloucester Daily Times)

The House passes a soldiers’ home oversight bill. (State House News Service)

Senate President Karen Spilka says members of the public may be invited to the February 22 Senate session, the first time the public has been invited back into the State House since it shut at the start of the COVID pandemic. (MassLive)


Mail delivery is being delayed in Lawrence, due to carrier shortages and COVID-19. (Eagle-Tribune)


Fewer prescription opioids are now being prescribed in Massachusetts, according to a new federal report. (Salem News)

COVID case numbers are down to pre-Thanksgiving levels in Massachusetts. (MassLive)


Wynn Resorts rolled out plans for a slightly scaled-back entertainment complex near its Everett casino. (Boston Herald


Boston will maintain its mask mandate in school beyond the February 28 end of a statewide requirement, but Mayor Michelle Wu is easing the ironclad vaccine requirement for teachers, who will be allowed to undergo regular tests in place of vaccination when virus transmission is at low levels. (Boston Globe)

MIT president L. Rafael Reif will step down after a decade of leading the prestigious university. (Boston Globe)


The Berkshire Eagle provides an update on construction of the Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum in North Adams. Bottom line: A lot of work remains to be done.


Transit advocates say the revamped MBTA board has become something of a paper tiger when it comes to overseeing the agency. (Boston Globe


Some Maine officials are looking to crack down on imports of Massachusetts trash to landfills there, calling the practice “economic colonialism.” (Eagle-Tribune)


Law enforcement officials hand out playing cards in correctional institutions depicting homicides or missing persons cases and hope inmates will pass along some information on what happened. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Victims’ families say the state should not allow medical parole for first-degree murderers. (MassLive)


The Washington Post is adding 70 new reporters, with 20 focused on health and wellness and 20 on climate change. (Washington Post)


 Luc Montagnier, the French virologist who shared the Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the virus that causes HIV, died outside Paris at age 89. (New York Times