• CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by Yellowspoon
 
Where is the value of a Charlie Card (or ticket) stored? Are all fare boxes/gates in direct communication with a central computer al all times?

This may have been discussed before, but 1600 posts are a bit much to wade through.

Once, I checked the value of my Charlie Card (CC) before I boarded a train at Waban. I alighted at Copley. When I entered at Copley for another trip, the fare gate said some gibberish that I don't remember. When I alighted at Brookline Hills, I decided to check the value of my CC. Although I'd boarded twice, only one fare had been deducted. I reboarded an hour later. When I alighted at North Station, all three fares had been deducted when I checked the value.


And as a trivia point, why do I tap my card a 2nd time when I add value? I've always wondered what would happen if I (A) tap my card to add value, (B) put $10 in the machine, and then fail to tap my card a second time.
  by troffey
 
Yellowspoon wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:36 am Where is the value of a Charlie Card (or ticket) stored? Are all fare boxes/gates in direct communication with a central computer al all times?
...
And as a trivia point, why do I tap my card a 2nd time when I add value? I've always wondered what would happen if I (A) tap my card to add value, (B) put $10 in the machine, and then fail to tap my card a second time.
As I understand it, the two issues above are interconnected. If you add value or a pass to your CharlieCard via the T website, it doesn't show until you've tapped it at a fare gate and updated. Additionally, I don't think the RFID in you Card would have the information that you had added value, although I haven't actually tried it. My understanding is that the Charlie machines and gates are in contact with the brains of the system, and your Card only holds the specific information the system tells it to.
  by Disney Guy
 
I am led to believe but am not sure that fare machines, fare gates, and fare boxes are synchronized with a central computer but not sixty times per minute 24 hours a day.

The card also carries the latest usage information as a redundant method of synchronizing with the central computer.

By tapping your card the second time, after making a payment, that synchronizes the card with the fare machine or fare box regarding the latest payment. I take it that for a bus or streetcar the central computer will be updated when the card is tapped at a (stationary) fare gate or (for customer verification) tapped at a fare machine or when the fare box decides to do a bulk update synchronizing for many customer paid fares whichever happens first.
  by MBTA3247
 
The value is stored on the card or ticket itself, along with the last time it was used. The system would collapse otherwise, as the fareboxes on the trolleys and buses are only updated on a nightly basis, and have no other way to determine the value or pass on the card/ticket. This magnifies one of the big problems with the tickets, as stored-value tickets have to be run through the reader several times as it first scans the current value on the ticket and then writes the new value.

When you're adding value to a CharlieCard, the first tap is when the FVM scans the current value on the card; the second tap is when it writes the new value or pass that you just bought to it.
  by diburning
 
Yellowspoon wrote: Mon Jun 24, 2019 7:36 am Where is the value of a Charlie Card (or ticket) stored? Are all fare boxes/gates in direct communication with a central computer al all times?

This may have been discussed before, but 1600 posts are a bit much to wade through.

Once, I checked the value of my Charlie Card (CC) before I boarded a train at Waban. I alighted at Copley. When I entered at Copley for another trip, the fare gate said some gibberish that I don't remember. When I alighted at Brookline Hills, I decided to check the value of my CC. Although I'd boarded twice, only one fare had been deducted. I reboarded an hour later. When I alighted at North Station, all three fares had been deducted when I checked the value.


And as a trivia point, why do I tap my card a 2nd time when I add value? I've always wondered what would happen if I (A) tap my card to add value, (B) put $10 in the machine, and then fail to tap my card a second time.
The value is stored on the card, but if you register your card, the MBTA can/will actively track the value on it (so that if you lose it, they can flag the card as invalid and then issue you a new one with the remaining value). A long time ago, a bunch of MIT students figured out how to hack the value on the Charlie card, and the MBTA got an injunction to prevent its release at DEFCON until the vendor, Scheidt and Bachmann, could fix it. Having seen the presentation released after the fix, the value was stored unencrypted, and anyone with knowledge of how hexadecimal worked could alter the values.

As for your trivia point, assuming you are at a fare vending machine, if you insert $10 cash and fail to tap your card a second time, the transaction times out, and it spits out 10 dollar coins into the bottom like a slot machine. If you tapped a different card instead of the card you tapped the first time, it will show you an error, and then spit out the coins. If you're talking about the farebox, the farebox will do one of two things. It could either time out and spit out a flimsy unlaminated paper ticket with your $10 on it, or it could just take the $10 and give you nothing. (in which case, you'd have to contact the MBTA about your loss, and they'll hand count that farebox when they get around to emptying it, to see if there's an overage).
  by Disney Guy
 
When a rider inserts too much into a fare box for a cash fare, the flimsy card that comes out representing the change has a mag stripe on the back and can be used as a Charlie Ticket, although in most cases "add fare" has to be done at a fare vending machine before the next usage.

I think that the same kind of card would come out if a rider inserted cash into a fare box and failed to tap a Charlie Card a second time there.
  by RenegadeMonster
 
Hmm, Maybe, but in my experience about 3 years ago I got a pile of dollar coins.
  by dbperry
 
Upcoming changes to the CharlieCard / CharlieTicket were discussed at the 12/9/2019 FMCB meeting:

https://cdn.mbta.com/sites/default/file ... mation.pdf
  by BandA
 
Interesting stuff; So huge costs right now, ultimately fare collection from 2025 onwards will cost about 4-5% of revenue. How does this compare to the present Charlie system? To the old token system? To the old-fashioned all-paper Commuter Railroad system?

So Cubic is the new vendor and S&B is the old, difficult to work with vendor?

Is Charlie 2.0 similar to what other systems have?
  by RenegadeMonster
 
Does anyone know anything about refunds on April Commuter Rail Passes.

Mine is paid for pre tax through work, and on April 1st we were notified that we could get a refund (credit for future month) if we mailed our card back in and it was received no later than April 6th.

The issue is, I had to mail mine to Wage Works in Phoenix AZ. And apparently mine didn't make the cut off day. I just got an email that they received my pass today and unfortunately the deadline has passed and they would be mailing it back to me.
  by BandA
 
Did you mail it on or before April 2? Do you have the mailing receipt? First class mail is supposed to be delivered in three days, including saturday, although it is not guaranteed. I would tell them to keep the pass & dispute it under whatever method is available. Did they actually receive it on the 7th or is that when they got around to processing it?
  by RenegadeMonster
 
I had to get stamps, so I didn't place it into an out going mailbox at my apartment complex until early afternoon on April 2. I'm not sure if it was picked up on the second or the 3rd to be honest.

I thought I would be good because it would be post marked by before the due date. But when I called them they informed me they had to receive it and process it by no later than end of day on 4/6 per MBTA's refund policy to process. They would not budge on their stance and when I asked to speak with a manager to dispute it they told me I could only do that by snail mail and gave me an address in California to mail a letter too.
  by BandA
 
Is it a real US Mail mailbox? If so it will have a pickup time listed. If it is a courtesy mailbox maintained by the apartment management, who knows. Passes are enough money that you should raise a stink.
  by RenegadeMonster
 
We have PO Box style mailboxes the post office maintains at my apartment complex. There is an out going mail slot, but it's not one of those official blue post office boxes.

The closest one of those I know of is about 2 miles away.

I agree that I should make a stink. I'll mail that snail mail. I also have HR involved in making a stink.
  by BandA
 
You won't be needing the May pass either...time to suspend the payroll deduction!

[OT] GF's company is still charging her for employee parking even though she is prohibited from using it as the office is closed. They lease a building at another location where employees don't have to pay...

[OT] if it is maintained by the USPS it is official. Pick up is most likely once a day at same time as delivery. If you mail an item from a post office and buy the postage it's "prima facie evidence" of the mailing (yeah right; better pay for a delivery receipt).
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