CharlieCards vs. anxiety-ridden penguins

Montreal's transit authority is replacing its paper tickets with a CharlieCard-like system. Chris DeWolfe, a reporter at the Montreal Gazette, is writing a story about the new Opus Card (OK, I really have no clue if it'll feature a penguin):

Part of my story will look at how the names of smart cards in other cities have been derived from or have become part of the local pop culture. Naturally, I'm very interested by the CharlieCard.

So, what do you think about the T naming its pass after a character in a song protesting the T's predecessor? I told him the song is such a part of local character, the question is almost more how could the T even think of naming it anything else, but what do I know? You can e-mail Chris with your thoughts on the name or post them here.



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    Nobody I know from around here who's under a certain age had *any* idea why the heck it's called the "CharlieCard" or who the heck "Charlie" is. Because when I hear the name Charlie... Boston doesn't spring to mind. Same thing with visitors from out of town, I don't think they'd know why it's called a CharlieCard either (instead of maybe the HubCard or something more obviously Boston-esque).

    Maybe it's a Millenial thing, I dunno. But I had no idea this song about Charlie was part of the local culture and I grew up around here.

    I don't dislike the name by any means. It just seems a little... odd. Hong Kong has the Octopus card, west Japan (Kansai) has the ICOCA (when spoken, it sounds like the phrase "shall we go?") and Tokyo has the SUICA ("watermelon")... so none of these really make sense for me, save the ICOCA.

    Even as I am a youngish,

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    Even as I am a youngish, midwestern transplant I actually *did not* need to have Charlie explained to me: the song was a staple on the Dr. Demento show when i was a kid, and in fact I would often think of it after I moved here in the waning years of token-dom.

    Another reason for 'Charlie'

    if not the song, then how about the river that the Red Line, Green Line, Orange Line, and various commuter trains and buses all cross?

    I'm 30, and knew it -- I

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    I'm 30, and knew it -- I think my grandfather would sing it when I was growing up, and we might even have sung it in school (this would be on the North Shore). I actually heard a band play the song in a bar in DC a year or two ago! That was weird. I think it probably has more to do with the kind of music you and your family listen to than with your age. Not that I have a lot of Kingston Trio records (or, indeed, any), just that it's kind of out there in my musical world.

    Stupid but appropriate

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    Whenever I show my Charlie Ticket to people in other parts of the country, the response is gales of laughter. This may be partly because I have an unusual number of musical friends.

    I never liked the name

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    Its only a matter of time until they make you swipe the card before you LEAVE the stations as well (like they do in DC) which will make it even more like the song. Its amazing how they chose a character from a protest song to represent a more efficient way of increasing fares without people noticing it. Its very 1984 George Orwell if you ask me, War is Peace and all that.

    As for the song I remember hearing it alot as a kid (Im in my 20's) and the Dropkick Muprheys recently did a cover of it(I didnt like it at all and I normally like their work.) Its very ingrained in the culture of people whos family have lived around Boston for a long time. Its also ingrained in Irish families for some reason as well. So the more Irish you are and the longer your family has been around the more likely you are to have some sort of exposure to it I guess.

    No more pay-on-exit gates here

    Its only a matter of time until they make you swipe the card before you LEAVE the stations as well (like they do in DC)

    No, the gates aren't designed for that. The T actually removed the only pay-on-exit gates, in Quincy and Braintree, when they last changed the fares on 1/1/2007. And while most fares increased, the Quincy and Braintree fares went down.

    Good to hear

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    Thats good to hear, Im still skeptical but at least it would cost them a fortune to install a pay as you leave system so that may stop em from doing it. They can still institute a rush hour increase upon entrance which is something else to watch out for.

    Im happy to hear the prices in Quincy and Braintree went down. Ive been on the wrong side of those gates and have been forced to jump the turnstyles to leave (Im a law abidding citizen with a 70 a month pass who doesnt happen to carry alot of cash, I shouldnt have to jump over gate because I didnt have another token.)

    Not a penguin in sight

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    Carte Opus.

    However, the site does feature cliche foreshortened stock photographs of grinning people taken by a photographer on a step ladder. Do not look at this page if you are trying to get to sleep.

    Also, apropos of nothing, I found this page very disappointing. It says "Work at the Lionel-Groulx station, which would be my dream job because I just love saying "Lionel Groulx," but, alas, it's not an offer but simply an alert that there will be work done at the station.

    OK, I am now obsessed with the Montreal subway system

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    Like its security Web page:

    Some transit users decide to check the emergency brake for no good reason. This only leads to slowing down service and wasting everyone’s time while the operator assesses the situation, returns to the front of the train and gets it underway again.

    It would never occur to me to check to see if the emergency brake on the Orange Line actually works. Something to think about ...

    Hmm, buses, too:

    A bus mirror to the head can ruin your whole day.

    It's safe to fall asleep on the Metro, too

    Situations it's appropriate to use the red emergency telephone (excluding when you need to call Agent 99):

    "You fell asleep and now you are alone inside the métro car

    Should that happen, just wait. The train will likely get underway again and you can get off at the next station. If not, remember that the train operator will be inspecting the train at the end of the work shift and will then be able to assist you."

    If only Charlie had known, he could have found a way off!

    On a more sobering, yet humorous as long as it never happens (imagine your T conductor taking care of your kid):

    "- You are aboard the train and your child stays on the platform

    If the train has pulled out of the station, use the intercom to report the problem. A staff member will comfort your child until you return.

    If the train has not yet left the station, pull the emergency brake to prevent the train from leaving. The operator will reopen the doors and head for the métro car where the brake was released."

    In the latter case, it's presumably up to you to comfort your child.