The MBTA today announced it’s partnering with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, the Boston Foundation and the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center to provide CharlieCards to more residents of East Boston. CharlieCards are reusable plastic fare cards that can be loaded with cash value or 1-day, 7-day, or monthly passes.
“Too many of our customers have difficulty getting CharlieCards,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “This is especially true in transit-dependent communities where bus service is often the predominant mode of transportation. With today’s partnership announcement, we are addressing this issue by making CharlieCards more widely available and making taking the T more accessible.”
The T will provide 5,000 CharlieCards preloaded with five dollars each to the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Mattapan Community Health Center, South End Community Health Center, Upham’s Corner Health Center and Whittier Street Community Health Center. Each Health Center will receive 1,000 CharlieCards to distribute to their clients.
“Access to convenient, affordable public transportation services is critical to our community,” said Manny Lopes, President and CEO of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. “The T connects our residents to life’s essentials, including school, work, and medical care. We are excited about this important initiative and the positive impact this will have on how our community experiences the T.”
By providing easier access, the T hopes to incentivize riders to utilize CharlieCards and fare vending machines throughout their travels, thus saving time and improving customer convenience.
“We are extremely grateful to the MBTA and the Boston Foundation for making the convenience of CharlieCards more accessible to health center patients, many of whom rely on public transportation to get to work and to see their healthcare providers,” said James W. Hunt, Jr., president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. “What’s more, this is a generous and inclusive approach to preparing city residents for the T’s forthcoming transformation of its fare system.”
Funds for this program are provided by a grant from the Boston Foundation’s Permanent Fund for Boston, Greater Boston’s only endowed fund focusing on the pressing needs of Greater Boston. The Permanent Fund has been made possible by more than a century of gifts from those who seek to support innovative solutions to the region’s most pressing problems since 1915.
“We are pleased to provide support for this innovative way to improve transit access and affordability for thousands of Boston residents,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Making these preloaded CharlieCards available at community health centers improves access to health care and is a small but important way to level the field of access to critical transit throughout the city.”
Transitioning customers away from the paper CharlieTicket to the CharlieCard has taken on additional importance as the MBTA moves ahead with efforts to transform the existing fare collection system to a next generation system. In the next three years, customers will find it easier to locate fare vending machines in their neighborhoods as the T undertakes an aggressive effort to bring new fare vending machines to the neighborhoods where customers live, work and play. The new fare system will include a new CharlieCard with tap technology as well as the ability for customers to use their smartphone to pay their fare.
In 2019, the MBTA first launched the CharlieCard Access Program working with non-profit organizations, cities, and towns to distribute more than 20,000 CharlieCards. Free no-balance CharlieCards were made available at Boston City Hall, Boston Public Library, and neighborhood library branches. Other locations included the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, city halls, libraries, and other organizations in Ashmont, Chelsea, Fairmont, Lower Roxbury, Lynn, Revere, Salem, Somerville, Watertown, and Winthrop.