MBTA tries to get more CharlieCards in circulation

Acknowledging problem, cards made available at Chelsea City Hall

THE MBTA, acknowledging that access to CharlieCards is too limited, announced on Thursday that the cards are now available at Chelsea City Hall.

CharlieCards are reusable plastic cards that provide access to lower fares. A bus fare is $1.75 with the CharlieCard and $2 for those using cash or the paper CharlieTicket. Similarly, a subway or trolley fare is $2.25 with the CharlieCard and $2.75 with cash or the CharlieTicket.

CharlieCards are generally available at major transit hubs, while fare vending machines are located at subway stations. Bus riders, unless they plan ahead, are often stuck using cash.

“Under this initiative, the MBTA is acknowledging access to cards needs to increase, especially in communities with a higher reliance on buses,” the MBTA said in a press release.

The issue has become a hot topic as the MBTA is preparing to transition to a new fare collection system that won’t allow buses or trolleys to accept cash. The T has promised to deploy more fare vending machines and enlist retailers to recharge fare cards, but many transit advocates remain concerned that bus passengers and riders who use cash will be left stranded. Chelsea transit advocates have been particularly outspoken on the issue.

Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, said there have been only four locations in Chelsea where residents can pick up CharlieCards. She said four locations for a municipality of 45,000 people is not nearly enough.

“This is a vioctory — a small victory, but still a victory — for getting more access to CharlieCards,” she said.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The four locations where CharlieCards are available in Chelsea are Caribbean Liquors on Broadway, Telepage Corp. on Pearl Street, PLS Check Cashing on Park Street, and Family Food Mart on Revere Beach Parkway. Cards will also be available now in the Treasury office at Chelsea City Hall – available for $5 with a preloaded balance of $5 or free with no balance.

In its press release, the T said it is looking to partner with nonprofit organizations and municipalities to provide more residents with CharlieCards. Those interested should contact the T’s chief customer officer, Danny Levy, at Dlevy@mbta.com.