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MBTA tries to make CharlieCards easier to find

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  October 5, 2012 04:47 PM

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The MBTA hopes new measures will make it easier for passengers to find CharlieCards, following recent reports from some riders who said they had a hard time tracking down the free plastic fare cards.

The agency is trying to raise awareness, including by posting signs throughout the system, that the cards are available during certain hours, at certain stations and are handed out by station employees, agency spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

He said the T’s staff has also recently implemented a new process to more closely monitor the inventory of cards and to ensure that distribution locations receive more cards when needed.

“This way, cards are always available at the designated sites,” Pesaturo said in an e-mail.

Some riders told the Globe this summer that they were having trouble finding CharlieCards, saying that employees at some stations had told them their stock of cards had run out.

The transit agency denied claims that the T had ever run low on CharlieCards, but told the Globe previously that perhaps employee confusion or inaction had led to station workers possibly not reporting when they needed more cards.

The cards are available at various stations during certain hours. Riders in need of a first CharlieCard or in need of a replacement can ask customer service agents or subway and bus personnel for one.

A chip is embedded in each plastic card allowing passengers to tap their card on readers at fare gates and aboard trolleys. The cards are reloadable for both monthly passes and monetary value, give reduced fares and transfers, making them cheaper to use than cash or paper tickets.

Since they were first introduced nearly six years ago, more than 7 million CharlieCards have been distributed – a number Pesaturo said is unmatched by any other transit system that uses smart cards.

But, he said less than half of the cards distributed in the past two years have been used more than three times. Each card costs the T about 75 cents.

They are intended to be good for use for more than 10 years, according to the agency’s website. The cards help the T reduce maintenance costs and environmental impacts.

To see a list of when and where the cards are available, check out the image below or click here.

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These signs are being posted around the MBTA system.

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