Charlie on the MBTA swears he isn't making up the problems he's having. He also posts e-mail from a rider of the 101 bus:
... This morning I boarded the bus for my commute. I am one of those commuters who still pays cash for my rides using a dollar bill and a couple quarters. The driver waved me on without paying and told me the fare box was frozen due to the cold weather. It was obvious the whole device was incapacitated and not powered on. ...
At the bottom of Mac Daniel's latest paean to the CharlieCard (but just before he acknowledges there might be one tiny small problem with them), he writes:
We also checked out reports that folks were throwing away CharlieTickets that still had value on them. We're not saying it's not true, but after donning latex-free rubber gloves, we rummaged in the trash and found 20 CharlieTickets. After running each one through the machine and checking their values, not one cent was found.
Oh, no! He's not doubting The Newman there, is he? Yes, he is! He's doubting The Newman! Word to the wise, pal: DON'T DOUBT THE NEWMAN!
Speaking of CharlieCards, Rcolonna tries one out and likes it.
Dave Copeland has a CharlieTicket with $1.50 left on it:
... Is there a way to use that $1.50, or does the T permanently "hold" it for me? I'm almost certain I can't add 50 cents to the card to get it to an even $2 to cover a ride. Or can I? It's not really a big deal to me, but when you think of the thousands of riders like me stuck in Charlie Ticket limbo, that adds up to a nice chunk of change to say, plug a budget hole. ...
Funny you should ask, Dave. Charlie on the MBTA was pondering that same exact question:
... As CharlieTickets are used they drop below the $1.50(bus) or $2(subway) level and value is needed to be added. Riders being told about the CharlieCard are then adding new value to the smartcard and simply discarding CharlieTickets with small amounts of unused value on them. Those nickle, dimes and quarters add up fast and the T is pocketing the money.
Was this by design or simply an oversight? Only 10 Park Plaza knows the answer to that. ...
Ron Newman went around Central and Davis stations tonight picking up CharlieTickets people had thrown out:
Four of the six tickets I tried still had value ... So the next time you see discarded $5 tickets and a Charlie vending machine with no line, try putting the tickets into the machine. You may be surprised what you get.
T officials report no complaints whatsoever about CharlieCards failing after just four days, so therefore, it hasn't happened. Plus, anybody who's had problems with a CharlieCard, well, let's just say your trolley doesn't go to the last stop.
Read Mac Daniel's CharlieCard column and let me know if I'm summarizing it correctly. Especially if you are one of the people whose CharlieCards didn't actually stop working on Thursday since you just imagined it. So no point writing to email@example.com.
BadTransit takes a more dyspeptic view.
Charlie on the MBTA reports on a fun interlude today on bus 2137 on the 66 route involving some poor woman who'd been told she could recharge her CharlieCard on the bus:
... The driver flat out refused to let her do it saying "Not on my bus lady, I can't be bothered." This was not a rush hour situation as there were perhaps 8 people on the bus and no one was waiting to board. ...
Spatch breaks the news about a new MBTA system dubbed CharlieDiscs:
... In an innovative twist on the traditional pass system, each metallic CharlieDisc, roughly three-quarters of an inch in diameter, represents the fare equivalent of one subway ride. Customers will be able to purchase these discs individually or in groups from machines placed in each MBTA station and then exchange that disc for access to the train platforms. To add value, customers simply purchase more discs. ...
... The readers on every gate said "Not Enough Value" though I paid $59 for this damn thing two days ago. It worked until this morning.
Charlie on the MBTA writes that after just four days of use, his CharlieCard died:
... Neither the faregates at Harvard Square or the vending machines could read the chip. The (customer service agents) tried to solve the problem but alas I was told to go to the new CharlieCard Service Center located in the concourse at Downtown Crossing (located on the Red, Orange and Silver Lines) When I got there I wasn't alone and it took about 25 minutes to see a clerk. ...
Put one in your back pocket and you can open a Charlie gate with your butt.
Feel free to post yours!
Gary McGath reports from Cambridge: Porter Square was a disaster, but Harvard Square seemed OK.
Single Girl in the City reports:
I just got an email from our HR department stating that our T-passes for the month of January haven't been delivered. Apparently, this is a "statewide" issue, which I take to mean all state offices are lacking their T-passes for January... we were informed that "there's a chance" the passes will be delivered tomorrow. ...
Santa was down at Fields Corner this morning handing out CharlieCards with money on them to celebrate the re-opening of the station there:
... Mine had $10, others got $2.50 or $5, and some probably had even more stored value. I also heard that a few of the gift CharlieCards had a LinkPass on them. ...
Jesse Legg says 90% of his rides on the Red and Orange Lines are good - he wonders why the T has no friends:
... Yeah, I did have a hard time getting my hands on a Charlie Card. Staff weren't there when I thought they should have been. Yeah, the new system is very questionable. Yeah, Copley Square station really smells. But public transit is a tremendous value to the region. It works better than many other quasi-public institutions. And it's a convenience, bordering on luxury, that doesn't exist in a majority of American cities.
TC says Charlie can kiss my ass, because all but two of the turnstiles at Malden Center were set to accept only CharlieCards today:
...Smart cards have only been distributed for the past week or so, and aren't going to hit major active use until January when they replace T Passes. So how is it that somebody thought there'd be such a dramatic increase in usage of them that it was necessary to devote the majority of the turnstiles to "smart cards only"? At rush hour! ...
A BadTransit correspondent gets to watch as an entire row of Charlie machines reboots at Porter Square - right into Windows XP.
The Globe's transportation reporter provides a handy video on how to use the new card - and shows why he desperately needs somebody at boston.com to change that dorky photo of him on his blog.
Jenny G reports she tried buying a CharlieCard at Davis Square with her credit card on Friday. Just wouldn't take. Finally, one of those roving T "ambassadors" told her the machines weren't accepting credit cards - so she used the last of the change in her purse to buy one. Surprise:
... Today I checked my credit card on line & see that I have been charged $10 for the Charlie card I didn't receive. I guess the system was working well enough to charge credit cards, just not well enough to provide Charlie cards for the charged amount. ...
Jason, on the Red Line:
When I ride the T, I am reminded of why I don't mind the hassles of owning and driving a car in the city.
Single Girl in the City, on the new extra-slow CharlieReaders on the Green Line (B trolley, to be exact):
The way I'm looking at it now, if I drop the T-pass and drop the gym membership and start walking the 5 miles each day, I'll get my workout in, save about $90 a month and probably get to where I'm going faster anyway....
Gary McGath notes the new CharlieCards will have RFID chips and that the T plans to retain information on where and when you get on the T for up to two years:
... It opens the possibility of privacy invasion, both by government agencies and by private parties. What information can be read by someone with a completely placed scanner? Does it have openly readable personal information? Anyone who issues an RFID-based personal ID should tell its users that, but the MBTA is telling us nothing. A Google search for "RFID" on mbta.com turns up no hits.
I'm not a fan of tinfoil hats, but a tinfoil wallet is starting to sound like a good idea to me.
Xjustquietx, though, doesn't buy it:
... For god's sake. So they're tracking where you get on the T in the morning and where you get on at night. So now the government knows where you WORK and LIVE. Like anyone with 5 seconds and an internet connection can't FIND THAT OUT ALREADY! GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELVES! Oh wait, this says you went to Newbury Street on Saturday. Hmmm, maybe you LIKE SHOPPING. Is that EVEN POSSIBLE? IN AMERICA? IN BOSTON!? ...
John Daley notes the T's fare increase is timed to coincide with the formal launch of CharlieCards, which, of course, are named for the protagonist of a song who will never return, no, he'll never return, because he couldn't get offa that train after a fare increase:
... I suppose it makes sense since, just like Charlie, a lot of working people now won't have enough money to pay the fare.
Somebody at the company that built the software for the new Charlie machines needs some help with decimal points.