CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby diburning » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:31 pm

They probably don't clean the card slots. Hands contain oils which are transferred to cards when held, and is transferred to the card reader when swiped. People who use hand lotion also add to the gunk buildup. It seems insignificant, but after years of use, it will build up to the point where it will not read reliably.

Where I work, they clean the pin pad magstripe readers and chip slots weekly with a cleaning card (a textured credit card sized card soaked in alcohol) and the cleaning card comes out black.
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby octr202 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:20 am

Add to the above, the fact that so many (i.e., damn near all) of the FVMs are in pretty dirty locations (whether inside stations or close to outside elements) and it's probably a miracle as many work as they do!
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby BandA » Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:18 pm

The magnetic strip can become demagnetized by exposure to a magnetic field (wonder what a ringing cell phone next to the credit card does), or mechanical damage from carrying the credit card loose in your pocket. I sometimes have trouble with my ATM card at the bank teller, which is probably the oldest card that I carry.
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby diburning » Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:23 pm

The closest magnetic thing that may interfere with the card is... well, other cards! I've noticed that if I had a Link Pass on a ticket, that it wouldn't read right away if I kept it in my wallet (the whole in and out deal at the farebox/gate), but wouldn't have this issue if I kept it in a different pocket. Hotel keys have the same issue, they can get demagnetized by credit cards.

Credit cards are actually quite resilient to such interference though, and most of the time, if my cards stop working, it's because of physical wear on the magstripe.
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby diburning » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:26 pm

There will be a $20 day pass for the Worcester Line for Marathon Monday. Available only at North, South, Back Bay right now, and on-board as well on Monday.
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby Disney Guy » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:27 am

You board a streetcar (LRV) and the fare box screen says "Insert 0.75" since the previous person boarding was short and the operator forgot to clear the fare box. What do you do when paying cash?

A. Insert 0.75 as directed and the fare box completes the partial fare, beeps approval, and you walk on in.
B. Insert the correct fare of 2.75 and the fare box completes the partial fare and uses the remaining $2.00 to register a new fare that is now short by the same amount of 0.75, and the fare box beeps disapproval and you might have to argue with the operator.
C. The fare box can tell that the new fare was inserted at a certain speed that means it is a fare unto itself and the fare box finalizes the previous partial fare and registers a new fare using all that you put in.

Extrapolating the situation to the use of a Charlie Card (or Charlie Ticket) with stored value, what happens?

D. The fare box deducts 0.75 from the Charlie Card and completes the partial fare.
E. The fare box treats your Charlie Card as a separately paid fare, finalizes the partial fare showing, and deducts the correct $2.75 to register a new fare for you.
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby diburning » Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:47 pm

The operator usually pays attention to cash fares, and are quick to press the "Short" button to ensure that the next person is paying a full fare.
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LinkPass Commuter Rail Discount

Postby jackintosh11 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:31 pm

If I get a 7 day LinkPass, can I buy interzone tickets for traveling on commuter rail, or do I need to pay the full fare?
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby Trinnau » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:19 am

According to fare section of mbta.com a 7-day link pass is only valid for travel within zone 1A if purchased on a Ticket (not a card).

mbta.com wrote:Valid for unlimited travel on Subway, Local Bus, plus Inner-Harbor Ferry, and Commuter Rail Zone 1A if purchased on a CharlieTicket.


So the Link Pass doesn't get you out of Zone 1A. Since all the T's commuter rail fares are based on travel to/from Zone 1A, you would have to pay full fare.
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Re: LinkPass Commuter Rail Discount

Postby sery2831 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:06 am

jackintosh11 wrote:If I get a 7 day LinkPass, can I buy interzone tickets for traveling on commuter rail, or do I need to pay the full fare?


Full fare, Boston is 1A technically.
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby Arlington » Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:15 pm

I would have said that a link passholder would only have to show the pass and then pay (for example) the 3-zone inter Zone Fare to get to Zone 3 (whic saves vs a Zone 3 fare)
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby sery2831 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:11 am

No. The interzone fare does work in Zone 1A. You need to pay the full Zone 3 fare.
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby BandA » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:48 pm

From the Globe:
The new system will work with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and other smartphone payment systems that rely on near-field communication technology to identify and verify a user
Payment systems require payment of a transaction fee. If that fee is more than a fraction of 1¢ then it is a bad deal for the MBTA, as the "T" will have to still maintain a system for their own "charlie II" cards & refilling them at vending machines and/or online. People seem shocked by the high cost of the system - how does that compare with their present system? How much do "Charlie I" cards cost the T?

From the Herald:
there are about 36 union electricians assigned to maintaining the current fare collection system. He said those workers will be assigned other work, saying there is plenty of other electrical work that needs to be done on the T. He said he does not expect any layoffs.
Emphasis added. Can anybody confirm whether this statement is true or not? Are the T's electricians presently working lots of overtime, or is there work that is being outsourced that could be brought back in-house or maybe they can accelerate state-of-good-repair projects?
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby diburning » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:08 am

BandA wrote:From the Globe:
The new system will work with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and other smartphone payment systems that rely on near-field communication technology to identify and verify a user
Payment systems require payment of a transaction fee. If that fee is more than a fraction of 1¢ then it is a bad deal for the MBTA, as the "T" will have to still maintain a system for their own "charlie II" cards & refilling them at vending machines and/or online. People seem shocked by the high cost of the system - how does that compare with their present system? How much do "Charlie I" cards cost the T?


I'm going to assume that Charlie cards cost 7 to 15 cents each based on the cost of bulk RFID cards (which is what Charlie Cards are). I'm assuming that the cost is probably closer to the 15 cents end because the MBTA does not seem to like to spend a lot of money to keep Charlie Cards in stock (I work at a business that is a fare vendor; the MBTA was out of Charlie Cards for about a month, from the last week of October until just before Thanksgiving. We ran out of cards, and the MBTA did not have any to send us, so we lost a lot of monthly pass sales) The merchant rate for electronic payment processing is about 2-3%. Assuming a $3 fare (because fares will have increased by then), the cost of processing the transaction for that fare is somewhere between 6 to 9 cents, less if it's a PIN-entry debit card (which would cost them a fraction of a penny). The MBTA might be able to negotiate a lower rate for payment processing because of volume.

Now we have to take into account on how much the charlie card costs in its life span. Some people reload their cards with cash, some with credit or debit. With cash, the MBTA incurs no additional cost. With credit, the MBTA pays the 2-3% every time the charlie card is reloaded. With debit, the MBTA's cost is probably about a penny. With a retail vendor, the cost is 1.75% (that's the retailer commission. In hindsight, this is actually a better arrangement for the MBTA as the retailer (assuming a large retailer like a supermarket) eats the processing costs. This is why 7 Elevens, Tedeschis, and convenience stores that sell MBTA fares have signs saying cash only). Some people load one ride onto the card, use it, then discard it. Some people load a pass onto the card, and then discard it. Working at a retail vendor, people simply aren't reusing the cards, regardless of how many times we tell them that the card is reloadable and can be reused. The MBTA doesn't help things by making the cards free. Since they're free, people don't care enough to keep them.

By going to the contactless payment system that allows credit cards, they can eliminate the cost of the charlie cards, eliminate the cost of equipment, fare media, and support for retail vendors, eliminate a significant portion of the current cash handling/FVM operation, and (presumably) have some sort of (time if not monetary) cost savings by allowing passengers to board at the rear doors. The London Tube is a prime example of a system that works. UTA Frontrunner is another. The MTA in NYC is looking to convert to a system like this as well.
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