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Commute Highlight Of the Day: The Legendary London Tube Announcer Who Focuses on the Positive

Carl Downer spends his work days giving commuters Rasta-inflected pep talks.


When was the last time a public-transit employee wished you "nice positive vibrations" and a day with everything "crisp to the maximum"? It could've been just hours ago if you travel through London's Victoria station, thanks to the ultra-chillaxed P.A. announcements of Rasta subway announcer Carl Downer.

If ever there was a man born with a surname that's polar opposite of his personality, it's Carl Downer. Since joining the London Underground about six years ago, the Jamaica-born Downer's waged a verbal campaign to wipe the sad, tired frowns off the faces of weary London commuters. That means wishing people a "very special good afternoon" when their train pulls into the station, telling the departing train operator to "drop it like it's hot" and, always, stressing the importance of those "vibrations – yeah mon!" His nonstop fountain of cheer has earned him celebrity with the captive audience of the Tube and beyond, with videos of his performance flying around the Internet and a Facebook fan page devoted to the "Legendary Rasta London Underground Announcer." That page praises Downer as the "first line of defense of tube rage – GAWWWD BLESS HIM!"

Recently, Vice tracked down this dude to ask him why he doesn't just read off the announcements in a soulless monotone like most other subway workers. The full interview is worth a read, but here's the nut of it:

Have you always been speaking at the platform like this?

Yeah, I try my best, know what I mean? If I can make someone's day better, I do that. We make each other's day a better day. You smile, I smile, the whole world smile, you know? That's the way you have to do it, man. I feel happy when people smile because of me. You know why? With the economy nowadays, you don't know what people are going through, and if they can take their mind off all the things going on in their personal life, in their job life, that one moment of happiness can make a big difference. I like to see people happy, man – seriously.

Do you feel it's your duty to cheer people up at the end of the day?

Absolutely. Absolutely, man. Just say, y'know, “This is not it in life, there is more to life than this.” You have to enjoy life. You live life, you enjoy life to the maximum. You have one life to live and you've got to live and live it up – you can't let nothing become an obstacle in your way. No one can be happy for you, so you have a right to be happy. It's a God-given right. Yes, Rasta.

And here's Downer spreading his message of peace and love from within the dark heart of Babylon:

Top photo courtesy of Tupungato on Shutterstock.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.