The CharlieCard is a staple of the Boston commuter. The system is simple and reliable; it gets us where we need to go simply at the tap of a card. However, a lot of city metro systems can also boast similar systems, so why focus on the CharlieCard? What I appreciate about the CharlieCard is that unlike most metro card systems, the CharlieCard has personality. The namesake of the CharlieCard comes from an old folktale/song of a man named Charlie. Back in the early days of the Boston metro system, you had to pay to get off the train, and unfortunately for Charlie he was unable to pay that 5 cent fare one day. As such, Charlie was stuck on the train for an indefinite amount of time. The story became so engrained within the Boston culture that even I grew up believing the story was true. Some part of me was even happy that I didn’t have to experience such a system. What would have I done if I was stuck on the train? These questioned were fun to think about whenever I stared at my CharlieCard. And even though I know the story is fake, I still love telling the story to visiting friends when they first get their hands on a CharlieCard because it usually puts a smile on their face. With the advent of the new fare collection system slated to replace the current system sometime soon, we can only hope we don’t lose Charlie and the personality he imbued into the system. I think we can all agree that it’s refreshing to have a bit of playfulness integrated within the usually mundane commute. Whatever Charlie’s and the CharlieCard’s future may be, we can at least rest easy that thanks to the CharlieCard, Charlie was finally able to get off that train.
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