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CharlieCards 1.0 to be replaced by CharlieCards 2.0

MassLive reports the T is on the verge of a $723-million deal to replace the current CharlieCard system with a newer system that will let riders pay by tapping their phones or credit cards rather than plastic cards. And it'll work on commuter rail, too, and let riders board buses and trolleys through the rear doors.

Oh, don't worry, there'll still be cards for the phoneless, but they'll cost $5 apiece.

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"And it'll work on commuter rail, too, and let riders board buses and trolleys through the rear doors."

All of this is possible with Charlie, and was promised as such.

"l let riders pay by tapping their phones or credit cards rather than plastic cards"

Great, more of our fares going straight to Mastercard and Visa!

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  1. They shouldn't charge riders $5.00 to pay for a new payment method.
  2. Riders should be able to use cash unless the T plans to put cash to payment machines at every stop.
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My kids have charlie cards and they refill them with cash because they are not old enough to have credit cards.

Duh.

They also have friends who don't have credit cards because they are in college.

Duh.

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Someone in college who doesn't have a bank/debit card at least?

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If each plastic card costs the MBTA $5, then they should charge riders $5.

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We should also be charging the full cost of a driver's license.

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Why don't you be the first to volunteer to pay what you perceive the full price of your driver's license to be then? ...didn't think so.

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Do you really think the RMV spends $50 every time I renew my license electronically? Or that they expend $60 every time I renew my registration electronically? At least for the former there is plastic to be created and sent out.

No, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is not revenue neutral. It makes money for the Commonwealth. Save your outrage for the gas tax.

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There shouldn't be a $5.00 surcharge to use a method of payment. It is a cost the MBTA is proposing so build it into the T fare.

Customers aren't demanding a new method of payment nor are customers saying disallow riders to pay with US currency. This is all a plan that allegedly delivers benefits to riders. Riders get their say.

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I mean, you were comparing the two (assuming you are the original anon.)

Similar systems have been put into place in other cities. It costs a buck to get a ticket to ride the New York City subway, and that's a fare collection system a lot less complex than what is proposed.

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i don't see any useful comparison of how the state charges for driver's license versus a new T fare payment system.

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The RMV already overcharges fees based on expenses. (http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/03/07/i-team-mass-rmv-making-hundreds-of...)

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Adding a cost to the card, prevents people from hoarding cards just because they are free. If you pay for a card, you're more likely going to take care of it and not lose it.

And again, if you read the article, you'll see it will allow your card to 100% managed online. Something you can't do right now.

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I agree that free = waste.

So charge $1. Not $5,

What will the new system let you do online that the current one doesnt?

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If you only ride buses, you cannot add value online, since the updated balance is only reflected when you tap at a subway gate:

To receive your CharlieCard purchase(s) tap your CharlieCard at a Fare Vending Machine or a subway Fare Gate after 5:00 AM tomorrow. You can also update it at T sales offices at Back Bay, Downtown Crossing, Harvard, North Station and South Station.

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Good to know theres this odd limitation.

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The account management of the current system is very limited. VERY. You can pretty much only add value. Can't check balance. Can't transfer to a new card. Can't track where you went. You can't do jack with it.

It seems like "online" was an after thought.

And my apologizes if they updated this... it's been a very long time since I bothered to look at my charlie card account (with the exception of registering it), and since you can't do much with it, I gave up.

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A friend of mine retired from the T has advised me that an operator that takes the time to learn and understand the current system can actually track you right at the fare box on a bus.

One time he had a passenger and they forgot some fo the places they were and wondered why their card ran out. He was able to look up the places they were, i.e. stations and buses boarded. When completed, the person was relieved that they now knew where their fare monies went.

That said, most drivers only learn enough to get you on and off.

So the T does in fact have an idea of where you have been and on what date and time. That said, they can make certain assumptions of where you were going, or when you made a one-way trip someplace but clearly got a ride back.

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that the T didn't know. They do, it was a big deal when the AFC 1.0 came out.

What I am talking about is bringing this data to the end user, not to T employees. They already do that (and yes, I've seen them do that at a fare machine)

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I HATE this problem. My commute from home to work is bus only - actually going away from the nearest T station - so every month I have to make a special trip just to get my new pass, even though I paid for it online.

If the new system eliminates that I'm already on board.

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charge for their card. The San Francisco Bay Area's Clipper card for BART/MUNI/Caltrain is $3, Atlanta's MARTA Breeze card is $2, the DC Metro's SmarTrip card is $2, and Chicago's L's Ventra card is $5.

The phone pay concerns me just a tiny bit with regards to smartphone snatchings, but I understand those rapidly decreased a few years back when Apple and Google added a remote-brick option for stolen phones.

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But if you read the article, everything will be moved online so if you lose your phone, you can probably deactivate it on your phone and still keep the balance and transfer it to a new card or phone.

This is how it works in Chiacgo.

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everyone who gets an E-ZPass transponder $28.77 (or whatever the manufacturer charges these days) instead of giving them away for free.

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If you bother to read the article, you'll see that the company that will bring this to us is not the MBTA, but a private company that already does this for Chicago MTA and the NYMTA.

Cashless is becoming more and more prevalent. It actually saves the agency a ton of money, as moving cash.. like emptying fareboxes on the boxes and what not is a very costly, and time consuming task.

It's coming folks.. get used to it.

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So the parking people, VPNE, have equipment that says my debit card is not a valid form of payment. This has happened at both BWH and Prudential garage. No place else. I tell them I have no other method of payment save cash. I'm happy to sit there and annoy all other drivers until someone from the office rides their golf cart over to accept my cash. And don't tell me I must not have enough $ in my account because that's absolutely not true.

Whoever is creating the programming should learn how to make all credit and debit cards work.

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Imagine policy solutions like payment systems on highways or public transit says you cannot pay for services with US currency.

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As long as I can buy a card and load it with cash value, that's okay with me.
Shit they'll just advertise to me like they do at S. Station. I'll pay to get rid of that visual and noise pollution.

Um, if not maybe not take the (T) and they can get used to that?

Rolling-over compliance is the same as get used to it.
Not always my style.

Can't wait until someone hacks it and it's free rides for a few hours.
Then again, I have paid tickets for the train and they cannot even manage to collect those. I guess if a card/phone reader does it, then that's better for the (T)? Can't wait for the inevitable crash when there's too few personnel onboard.

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Many people who use the MBTA are (understandably) always throwing their opinions around about how the system doesn't "work" for its riders...one facet of this usually involving the current multi-component/non-unified fare collection system, and how it fails on a number of points.

This plan appears to be aimed at overhauling the fare system in ways that BENEFIT RIDERS. Tired of non-verified riders taking the Commuter Rail for free? This will address that. Tired of single-door boarding on the Green Line or buses? This will address that. Tired of paying in one format for Commuter Rail and another format for Bus/Subway? This will address that. Tired of squeezing through a fare gate with a piece of luggage/shopping bags? This will address that.

With all that (and I'm certain, additional benefits as well), you want to put focus on the new fare card costing $5? FIVE DOLLARS? After the T has blown nearly (an estimated) $18 MILLION on free CharlieCards for the 1st Generation fare system, do you think it'd be wise to repeat the same expense? I sure don't.

Aside from that, nobody is forcing you to pay for a $5.00 fare card...the article clearly states, "Use any media: fare card, mobile phone or contactless credit card." You have a smart phone? Use that. You have a tap-enabled credit card? Use that. If you have neither, consider the $5.00 fare card cost, a "convenience fee", because you'd be foolish to think it's a good idea for the MBTA to consider cash payment anywhere. As it is, most of the fumbling I see at the current fare machines is the same fumbling I remember seeing as a kid when tokens were still being used...attributed to finding cash to pay for your fare media.

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I've had the same plastic charlie card since early 2009, when moving here. Commuting twice a day, nearly every day since then - four thousand odd trips.... .125 of a cent per trip.

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I think you have a good point here. I think a lot of the griping is that the current Charlie Cards was promised and suppose to able to do many of what is current its shortcomings. In terms of technology, it makes no sense to change the system when we know the system can do it and the MBTA just refused to use it.

But at the same time, one thing I think is overlooked that says you have a point with a new system, is while the current system can do it, we are blocked by bad specifications. It's all proprietary and to go back to the old vendor is prohibitively expensive. Thus I guess it is cheaper to just change to a whole new system to upgrade our current one.

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Use any media?

Um, how about verified paper?

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https://www.mbta.com/news/1422

Press release from December 6, 2006:

The CharlieCards can be used currently on all buses and at most subway stations. The system will be fully converted on buses and subways by Jan. 1. CharlieCards will be available for use on commuter rail lines by fall of 2007.

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when you pay for a charlie card with a credit card, then MC and Visa get the same cut. there is no difference

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It's quite pathetic that I have much more control over management of my Dunkin' or Starbucks card than I do over the cards for a public service. Can't merge/manage balances, cards expire way too frequently and require a trip to Downtown to deal with it, can't manage special cards (I have two student with cards) online, when you refill online takes until the next morning and then only works if you go to a fare machine or subway entrance but not on buses. I guess this change will address some of these problems (although how do they deal with student IDs if you're just tapping a credit card?) but really they should have worked from the beginning. And, as always, this so-called "upgrade" includes another tax on the poor.

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The fact that I can't take multiple CharlieTickets and transfer the balance to a CharlieCard (or even to a single CharlieTicket) at a fare machine is ridiculous.

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The fact that a Charlie Ticket costs 33% more than a Charlie Card fare is bullshit. The $5 fee is similar.

There is no law requiring mandatory smartphone or credit card ownership.
This is a public utility. Too bad.
That means everybody should have access, not just electric sheep.

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of taking a system that works perfectly fine and then replacing it with a newer but completely unnecessary system that purports to increase efficiency by a couple of percent at a cost of several hundred million.

The systems suppliers (and useless third-party providers such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.) probably had to line more than a few pockets in order to convince the board to try to pull this one over on the public.

Also, the suppliers did a nice job of disguising the issue of rear-door kiosks as a function of payment type.

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The current Charlie system does not work perfectly fine, especially if you ride the commuter rail.

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Because of management decisions, not because of the technology.

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The systems suppliers (and useless third-party providers such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.) probably had to line more than a few pockets in order to convince the board to try to pull this one over on the public.

Shows how much you know about Credit Card payment processors these days... Pretty much all payment processors now support contactless payments. It's up to the PoS system (point of sale) to support the contactless card.

Apple and Samsung have very little to do with this, with the exception of getting credit card companies (and debit card makers) to allow their technology to be used with their chip cards.

And There's NOTHING good about the current system. NOTHING.

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NOTHING?

Than how do I manage to use the MBTA so readily with the current system? Huh.

Frankly, I liked the deal where you got a free passage through the turnstyle, for every ten-pack of tokens.

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Only in Massachusetts does it cost nearly a billion dollars to install a bunch of NFC readers.

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It's an entirely new system pretty much. Not just a new card strike contacts.

New gates, new machines, new software, new website.. new new new new new!

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To replace equipment that is 10 years old, that previously replaced equipment that was 40+years old.

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The fare gates themselves seem fine. Surely it would be cheaper to upgrade the electronics instead of replacing the whole thing. The new fare gates look like they'd be even easier to jump over or trigger without paying.

They speak of the new system being able to handle exit fares which is surprising as it's not something which has been publicly discussed.

I'm curious about the Proof of payment option for the CR. Why not start doing that today?

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The Red Line/Silver Line gates at South Station have a lot of issues with correctly functioning although I do not know if it is the gates or the cards. You swipe your card and you get "see agent" or "please try again" too often. Also happens at Kendall Square.

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No, they are not fine. The faregates at Wood Island have been broken for month. T tells me they are 'out of parts'. This is VERY common with the current AFC system.. you can't get parts for it anymore. The faregates are also PC's running Windows XP.. an 15 year old OS.

As I said below, I'll say it here too. Part of this project is to outsource everything to another company. They will be responsible for its upkeep and operation. Not the T.

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You realize theyre giving the contract to the same company right?

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Citation Please.

And the current system may have been installed by a vendor, but it is currently managed by the T. The new contract, like most of bakers privatization contractors, will 100% handover the operation to that company.

Many of the current problems with AFC 1.0 have to do with the T itself, not the technology. The T needed to implement features they told us that were coming when we dumped tokens... most of them were never implemented due to cost.

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It is not the same company.

I take it you're the same "jass" poster vomiting all these same debunked misinfo and Hottest-of-Takez all over the ArchBoston thread on this while resorting to poo-flinging at anyone who calls you out on your shaky command of facts, correct?

It doesn't matter how many forums you simulcast this or other BS claims to amplify your precast rant against T management...it's as wrong as it was the first time.

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"The vending machines will dispense fare cards"

Yay, fixing one of the dumber aspects of the current system - actually getting your hands on a CharlieCard.

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I got my hands on plenty of them! Of course if the machines that service the cards don't have blanks and require employees to stand around passing them out and teaching people how to use the machine (another cost and DELAY of the ATC) then that's pretty stupid.

Try the stores?

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how the T is financially strapped? I mean, coulda sworn I heard they don't have enough money for things like maintenance and stuff...

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I bet hackers can't wait for this system to start. I'd rather ride a bike.

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They'd be more incline to hack the current system....

Fare Gates & vending machines = Windows XP
Servers in Stations (db servers) = Windows Server 2003

hooray for outdated technology!

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the MIT DEFCON presentation on the MBTA from years ago to see how secure the current system is.

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Will you automatically get a receipt when you tap your credit card?

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Go back to the tokens!

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Granted the current Charlie Card system is not perfect, but its okay.
As cash-strapped as the T is these days, why not use the $723 million for station improvements, track improvements, signal improvements etc...

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It's a perfectly legitimate question about priorities that starts with a financial analysis of new revenue collection vs old, and including cost savings if any and capitalizing the $723 million including debt service. i cannot imagine that on a cost basis it makes any sense at all.

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No, it's horribly out of date and virtually not supported any more. There's a long list of things that is wrong with AFC 1.0 (current system).. I could be here for days.

Everyone on this thread is missing one key point. (except Ari O.. he got it)

This whole project is to farm fare collection out to a private company. Currently it is done in house. By farming it out to another company, they become responsible for the maintenance of the system, not the T.

Not that I am a fan of doing so, but it has worked out for Chicago and the NY MTA. Why not? I can do without broken faregates that sit wide open and allow people in. Or not being able to use my phone as my charlie card and pay that way.

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This whole project is to farm fare collection out to a private company. Currently it is done in house. By farming it out to another company, they become responsible for the maintenance of the system, not the T.

That's the exact argument with Keolis and yet that private company is a shitshow. (As is the state's oversight of their contract.)

Without question the current system fare needs to be replaced but Boston has a poor track record with these "partnerships" for big projects. Much like Keolis, there's a real chance the new system works poorly and instead of holding the company accountable they make excuses and it's the riders who end up suffering the most.

Another example of Massachusetts' "partnership" failure was with the state's ACA website. It was a total failure where the public paid the price and the contractor made a boatload.

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The stupid thing about paying Keolis is the MBTA (an organization that's all about.... driving trains) is paying an outside company... to drive trains. While this is the MBTA (a train organization) paying an outside company to design and maintain software and the hardware it runs on.

Should the MBTA be a software developer in addition to a train operator?

Sometimes outsourcing makes sense, sometimes not. I have no doubt that the outside company will inevitably have customer service issues, delays in repairs, etc. But so does the MBTA, and at least this way we're streamlining the organization back to core purposes, which is always more efficient in the long run.

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The MBTA has never operated trains (at least nothing that's a train as far as the Feds are concerned (i.e. comes under the regulation of the Federal Railroad Administration)). The commuter rail has been privately operated since day one. In the era since the MBTA took control of the service and subsidized it, it was the Boston & Maine, then Amtrak, then MBCR (mostly Bombardier) and now Keolis.

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I get your point but for most laypeople there's a "common sense" train of thought that says if you run "subway trains" you can run "other trains". It's not a completely out of left field connection

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Keolis is just another private company that is running the CR ops - the MBTA has never, ever run them in house and has always outsourced them.

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But if you ask other transit agencies about their Keolis contract, they have nothing but glowing things to say about Keolis. Yet if you ask a T rider... much different story

Why? Because its all in the RFP and scope of the contract. The Keolis contract with the T is far different than any other agency Keolis deals with.

The issue with Keolis has never been Keolis itself, but the MBTA and how they manage it.

Not saying the fare collection will be the same or not but.. you never know

And trust me, after working briefly for the RIDE contractor who took over.. I can tell you, its been a shitshow.

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This entire weekend after the great GLX news, I kept telling myself this is just too good to be true. Then I find out it was. Boston will soon hear "Phoenix Constructors" and "Fluor Fiasco" everyday. How did our self-proclaimed transportation guru Sec Pollack miss this one?

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Chicago went to a whole new system a couple of years ago. You can pay with your phone or with a contactless bank card, but very few people do. Most use a Ventra card, which costs $5 but you can get that back as transit fare if you register the card online. It's also built by Cubic, works sort of okay, although they don't have the ability to use a card on the Commuter Rail there (which is a different operator and has minimal fare compatibility). Cost $454m, so similar order of magnitude, although they don't have freestanding bus stop fare machines.

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Chicago also has a nice app that allows you to add value to your Ventra card instantly. It's pretty slick.

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I mean, they aren't going to be putting add value machines at every stop, so how will they be able to pay if they don't have enough on their card or don't have smartphones or whatnot.

Yes, I know that those who pay with cash when they board buses slow things down, but this will be an issue. I guess TfL works with these guys in London, so I'd be curious to see how the bus situation plays out there.

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You know.. there's this thing called POP other systems use. Proof of Payment. Maybe just let the people ride until you get to the station and then you can pay if you want.

Of course lots of fare evasion, but with POP, it's up to TPD to spot check people to make sure they have fare on their card or even cash to pay said fare.

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And if they were proposing POP we'd talk about that, but they aren't proposing that.

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The MBTA has said that POP is coming with the new fare system, and even this article alludes to it (without using the exact term - oh wait, it does for the CR and goes on to say it will also be used on the Green Line).

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I read the Commuter Rail part, but that just sounded like what they do already (checking passes and taking tickets from the outbound passengers) minus the cash part.

I did track down a bit about how TfL (another user of the system) works cashless buses. If you have their equivalent of the Charlie Card but without a monthly pass, you can run a deficit of one bus ride, but you have to pay it off quickly (I believe within a day) or you get an extra charge. Of course, one can also add value to the card in shops, which the T really has to do. When I was in Dublin last I bought my Leap Card at a convenience store and paid my bridge tolls at gas stations.

But it's not POP unless there's deputized staff checking for the POP. Will the T really do that?

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This would be another function of the tap to exit machines. They would know if you paid to get on. So you go on the back doors of the trolley. Fine. Getting off at the station, you pay then.

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But shall 8-cent commutation checks from the Camden Street Line still be valid for a through passage to Cambridge or Charlestown if I transfer at Scollay's Building or Dock Square?

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I couldn't tell from the article. Is the proposed $5 fee for the new Charlie Card a one-time fee charged when you get the actual card, or is it a $5-per-ride fee to try to force people to use their smartphones or credit/debit card?

If it's a one-time fee, that makes sense. My local laundromat, as well as the laundry company that owns and maintains the machines in the laundry room in my apartment complex charges a one-time fee of $2 to obtain the "smart card" used to run the machines. Additionally, the laundromat will refund you the $2 if you are moving out of the area and turn in your card (they will NOT refund any balance on the card, it's the customer's responsibility to use up any funds on said card).

If it's a $5 per ride fee, this will only harm the poorest of the poor who don't have and can't get smartphones or credit cards, but still depend on the T to get to and from work or work-training programs. That doesn't sound ok to me.

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One time per card, but that doesnt change that typically the charge is $1 to $2

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Yeah, only real flaw in the plan I see is that $5 is a lot for the smartcard. $2 seems right to me - annoying and a hassle, but not exorbitant.

How much does it cost the T (or the contracted company) to buy the cards?

Not a flaw but something to be wary of: access. We need to watch the T/contractor like a hawk to be sure that fare machines/participating stores are especially represented in poorer areas with less internet penetration.

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Is there still going to be a way to get a card/ticket anonymously? Last time around, the ACLU had to threaten to go after them to prevent the CharlieCard system from being a submarine attempt to make the new fare system into a massive tracking/surveillance system.

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My understanding is that you will still be able to pay cash at the machines, you just be able to pay cash on board. So you can pay $5 for the card, and put $X on it, all anonymously (besides cameras, which are on the buses anyway).

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From the article: "The new gates will also have something the current gates don't have: An area to tap for entry and exit. They'll be made that way in case state transportation officials ever decide they want people to pay to get out"
So Charlie for real will be riding 'neath the streets of Boston.

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I'm not 100% sure, but I think that's how it's done in Seattle. Passengers tap their Orca Cards upon entry and are charged the highest fare, and when they exit, they tap their card again and some of that fare is refunded, if it does not exceed the highest fare.

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They used to have exit fares at the southernmost Red Line stations on the Braintree branch.

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I don't have a smartphone and none of my credit cards support NFC, so I guess it's the $5 card for me. I can deal with $5 if it's sturdy and will last for 5+ years, but I have a sinking feeling about that.

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It doesn't look too bad. They are issued with 5 year expiration dates printed on them, and you get your $5 back when you register- well, you probably don't get the money back, but it gets credited on your account. Since this is the same group doing Boston, we can cross our fingers and hope we get something like this.

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The proposed system wants to use contactless credit/debit cards. and most people right now don't have one as banks are not embracing the concept.

If you don't see this symbol on your card - it won't work

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02566/...

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No Contactless Credit/Debit cards also include ApplePay and Samsung Pay.

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The new system allows contactless credit cards as fare media. It also allows passengers to use smartphone payment or smart card (basically Charlie Card) payment.

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What if your phone dies?..............

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