Charlie Card

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Charlie Card

Postby helium » Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:06 am

Anyone read the Globe article on the Charlie Card today?
This part is a little confusing:

"After any tweaks, the T then plans to install the system simultaneously along the Green, Red, and Orange Lines. If all goes as planned, the system will be in use on all buses and trolleys starting next January, and the T will begin to hand out the more permanent CharlieCards soon afterward."

So will the T be issuing standard T passes throughout this, or will resort to cash? Do the new machines take the old style passes? Since the new machine gives change in the form of a paper card, can I use my subway pass on the Silver Line (Washington) and get 35 cents back on a Charlie Card?
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Postby octr202 » Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:26 am

I would guess that you can't get change back off of a pass, but who knows.

From the sounds of it, this system seems to work like the one I saw in Chicago, where you put the pass in, it goes down into the machine, and then pops back up if its still valid (i.e., time period still good, or there's fare value left on it).

The article is on boston.com this morning:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/02/01/fare_trade/

My experience in Chicago was that boarding buses at fareboxes was a lot slower than on the T. Much so. But, the system offers a lot more options (like getting change back, issuing transfers). Also, those I saw using the Chicago Card (the CTA's smart card) were moving fast...the hold up is the older magnetic stripe passes and those paying cash.
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Postby CS » Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:55 am

I am actually one of the people testing out the Charlie Card on Silver Line "Washington".

I believe the machines are on the buses... I don't know about the other lines, I do know that I have to give the card back to the T sometime in May.
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Postby jwhite07 » Wed Feb 02, 2005 6:55 am

I noticed a few sandwich boards with informational posters on them placed on the sidewalk at the New England Medical Center stop this morning. The poster has a picture of the new farebox and shows where to insert coins, bills(!), CharlieTickets or monthly passes, and the bright orange "target" or touchplate for CharlieCards. Apparently you can insert up to a $20 bill into the farebox, and receive a CharlieTicket as "change" with the remaining value stored on it.

I also found it interesting that one must now insert their monthly pass into a slot, watch it get sucked in and then spit out again, and then remove it. What's wrong with the current swipe-slot arrangement? I'd think it's quicker to use than the new system. And it'll be real interesting to see what happens to those folks who use their monthly pass as a keychain fob!
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Postby apodino » Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:39 am

Actually, if you have ridden other bus systems, such as New York or Las Vegas, the suck in and spit out form of the the farebox is common place. IIRC, CTA and Washingtion MetroRail have the exact same thing as does the London Tube.
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Postby efin98 » Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:02 pm

jwhite07 wrote:I also found it interesting that one must now insert their monthly pass into a slot, watch it get sucked in and then spit out again, and then remove it. What's wrong with the current swipe-slot arrangement? I'd think it's quicker to use than the new system. And it'll be real interesting to see what happens to those folks who use their monthly pass as a keychain fob!


I think the new "Charlie Card" solves that... the ticket gets inserted but the card gets flashed over the sensor(s).
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Postby ckb » Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:09 pm

I was thinking and guessing (a dangerous combination, to be sure!) that the "suck-in, spit-out" procedure is the only way to go about engineering such a system. On the "suck-in", the magnetic stripe reader checks the value, validity, etc. of the card. On the "spit-out", new information is encoded on the strip on the card. Then I remembered that the Metrocard system in NYC (for the subway) works such that you swipe the Metrocard through the slot and that's it. They use the same two-stage process on the busses, though. I don't know why there's a difference.

As for ease of use, I expect (hope) that passes will be issued on the "Charlie Card" type of mechanism, which, as an RFID tag, only requires passing the card by the target. These people won't have to insert and retrieve the card as they (apparently) have to do with the current pass system.

I don't understand why they're testing this system on this part of the Silver Line. Seems to me it should be first implemented at a manned subway station where you can post extra customer service personnel (maybe someone can dry clean the infamous "crisp polo shirts" from the DNC) to assist folks rather than giving the bus driver yet another task and slowing the whole trip down. I guess the "permanent" installation is slated to begin on the Blue Line ... but if they wanted to do the trial on a bus portion (presumably a more complicated installation), why didn't they implement it on the more lightly used (and also new and therefore passengers haven't yet developed totally ingrained habits) Silver Line Waterfront?
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Postby octr202 » Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:12 pm

Are the Charlie Cards printed on anywhere by the farebox? The Washington Metro turnstiles and the turnstiles and fareboxes in Chicago can print information on the cards during the suck in, spit out (SI-SO?) process.

My observation in Chicago was that a large number of people are still using the old cards or cash. Hopefully the prevelence of monthly passes in Boston will over time drive most people to the Charlie Cards.
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Postby efin98 » Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:07 pm

I think the Silver Line Washington Street was chosen because it's an odity in the system, and the T can get a clear picture on the bus to bus and bus to subway movement of the Tickets and Cards accurately. Isolated from the rest of the system, work the transfer bugs out of the system on a line that relies on transfers first then move on to other lines...

You have to remember that only a small portion of riders have the Charlie Cards and Charlie Tickets so the T has to accomodate the current passes...what is encouraging though is that the current montlies are being read like the Charlie Tickets which makes me think that it will be 1. quick to convert the current turnstles to accept Charlie Cards and Charlie Tickets and 2. easier on the T since it shows that the current technology is somewhat compatible to the older pass system.

And what better line to start full scale Charlie Card operation than the Blue Line? The stations are able to handle it more readily than the other lines since the line is already going to suffer through renovations and any impact to the stations themselves(especially the outer ones) is well known to riders(still have yet to make it through a year without a shut down for something!).

Now if only they would choose the Lynn Garage as the first T garage to convert to the Charlie Card and Charlie Ticket, since the Blue Line is the main feeder for this garage it would make perfect sense to convert it first :-D
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Postby efin98 » Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:00 pm

I took the Silver Line today and got my first chance to use the new farebox. I was using a monthly bus pass and fouled up twice trying to put it inside the reader, stupid me didn't read the instructions on the plaquards clearly enough!

I loved that you could get your dime back from the T, didn't know that was going to be part of the system lol. The machine is fool proof if you read the instructions and listen to the driver(such patience for him...rare) however I think that vending machines need to be placed at the major bus terminals to speed up boarding as soon as possible, from what I saw today they will make a big impact on boarding times.

Now if only the T can add the Charlie Cards and Charlie Tickets to the Blue Line then I would call Charlie a huge success!
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Postby octr202 » Fri Feb 11, 2005 8:35 am

efin98 wrote:I took the Silver Line today and got my first chance to use the new farebox. I was using a monthly bus pass and fouled up twice trying to put it inside the reader, stupid me didn't read the instructions on the plaquards clearly enough!

I loved that you could get your dime back from the T, didn't know that was going to be part of the system lol. The machine is fool proof if you read the instructions and listen to the driver(such patience for him...rare) however I think that vending machines need to be placed at the major bus terminals to speed up boarding as soon as possible, from what I saw today they will make a big impact on boarding times.

Now if only the T can add the Charlie Cards and Charlie Tickets to the Blue Line then I would call Charlie a huge success!


I'm glad to hear that they have placards up along the Silver Line explaining this. They still, as of this morning, have nothing up on the website explaining how to use the new fareboxes. I know that not eveeryone would check it to find out, but considering how much of a change this is, I'd think they'd want to use every means to get the word out about it...

Hopefully, as the AFC systems spread to other routes/lines, they will redesign the standard passes. Both Washington and Chicago have arrows and wording on the passes that indicate how to insert them into the fareboxes/turnstiles. That might be a good way to help people figure it out.
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Postby psychoandy » Mon Feb 28, 2005 9:57 pm

I have a cash charlie card, and a monthly pass. The insertion of the monthly pass is ridiculous, i'd rather just swipe than take my pass off the keychain, and etc. The tickets wouldn't be so bad, if the things could be purchased beforehand and not ON the bus, which is even worse than paying while boarding an E train at prudential.
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