Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let me tell you the story of a man named Charlie

A quick PSA to all my friends in Boston...

The CharlieCard was released by the MBTA on December 4, 2006. This little update made getting on the T as simple as tap and go. Like many commuters, I just stuck the card in my wallet where the machine could read it, and it's rarely moved since.

Now as we celebrate the 5 year anniversary of the CharlieCard, commuters should be aware that their cards could be expiring soon. I was surprised on my morning commute to tap and read "EXPIRED" on the gate screen. I had just purchased a December pass, so I went over to a fare vending machine to verify. It told me that my SmartCard had expired. I hadn't gotten a warning, and more importantly, I had my T pass on there! My train was arriving so I coughed up $2 for a ticket and went on to work.

A visit to the MBTA website confirmed that the CharlieCards do expire! Who knew?

While I'd threatened to boycott the T all month, December in New England doesn't really lend itself to walking. (Neither does my laziness) So I made the trek down to the T pass office at Downtown Crossing, where I was told they'd transfer the fare (Harvard has one as well).

It's not often I get on the T at Downtown Crossing, so it took 3 tries before I finally found the entrance where the office was located. I lucked out with no wait and approached the window. Before I even finished my request, the gentleman asked for my card, and a few minutes later handed me back a shiny new T pass. I was tempted to ask him to throw on the $4 I'd spent that day in T fare when I had a perfectly valid pass, but I am braver in my head then in real life. Plus, I had shiny new CharlieCard distracting me.

Lesson of the day? Check out the expiration date of your CharlieCard, and you could save yourself an annoying errand (and $4).

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