Charlie Comes to Fenway Park
Courtesy of Boston Globe , August 15, 2007
By Ryan Haggerty, Globe Correspondent
The MBTA yesterday approved the purchase of 5 million new Charlie Cards based on increased demand and announced that five fare vending machines will be installed in Fenway Park by Friday.
The machines inside the ballpark will accept credit and debit cards only, said Daniel A. Grabauskas, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. "We want to maximize convenience," Grabauskas said by telephone yesterday. "If someone wants to take time during the seventh-inning stretch to get the card loaded up for the return trip, they can go ahead and do that."
The machines will be located near Fenway's busiest gates, said Janet Marie Smith, the Red Sox's senior vice president of planning and development. Gates A and C will have two machines each, while Gate E will have one machine, she said.
"We have wanted to put the machines into Fenway Park since [the MBTA] announced that they were changing from the tokens to the new system," Smith said. "We're thrilled that after all these years of waiting, they're here. We want people to use them."
Grabauskas encouraged people to put enough money on their card for a round trip before going to a game, but he said the new machines should allow people who forget to put enough money on their card to reload without waiting in line at machines in nearby T stations.
Lee Matsueda, a community organizer with the T Riders Union, said the MBTA must ensure that people who rely primarily on buses are able to purchase the cards at convenient locations within their communities. "It's a concern of a lot of the riders we work with that there needs to be a lot of these fare machines, not only in Fenway Park, but in areas that aren't necessarily close to train stations," Matsueda said. "They're investing a whole bunch of cash in these new cards, and we're just hoping they invest in making people aware of where they can buy the cards."
"The MBTA is exploring the possibility of installing new machines at healthcare and educational institutions across Boston," said Joe Pesaturo, a T spokesman.
The MBTA's Board of Directors also approved a $4.2 million contract with a subsidiary of a German company that will produce up to 5 million new Charlie Cards over the next three years at its plant in Twinsburg, Ohio. Each card will cost the MBTA 79 cents, the lowest per-card rate of any major public transportation system in the country, Grabauskas said.
The contract with Giesecke & Devrient America, Inc. -- which has manufactured cards for public transit systems in London, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. -- also allows the MBTA to order about $200,000 worth of specialty Charlie Cards used to commemorate historical events or promote the T. The contract "should give us more than enough cards to last us through the next several years," Grabauskas said. "We'll be handing out fewer and fewer as time goes on, but we'll always have people coming into town for a weekend or a weeklong vacation, so we know there will always be a demand."
More than 2 million Charlie Cards have been handed out since December 2006, and 1.4 million of those are used at least once a month on buses or trains, Grabauskas said. More than 60 percent of subway and bus riders use a Charlie Card daily, said Grabuaskas.
Ryan Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org