Thursday, 10:24 AM
CharlieCard celebrates its first birthday
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
The CharlieCard -- that spry plastic pass that whisks subway riders from Wonderland to Riverside and all stops between -- celebrated its first birthday today with a green and white frosted cake topped by a single candle.
Since CharlieCards were introduced by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority on Dec. 4, 2006, the little subway pass has grown and matured. More than 2.5 million CharlieCards have been distributed in the last 12 months, and usage has surged from 9.8 million rides in January to 13.2 million rides in October, the most recent statistics available.
Some 241,000 riders used CharlieCards as monthly passes in September, and the gizmos can now be bought in 286 locations. The public's embrace of the card has raised an additional $13.5 million in fare revenues in fiscal year 2007, according to the MBTA, a figure that has transit officials swelling with pride on the CharlieCard's first birthday.
"I guess you'd have to say that Charlie is a precocious child," said Daniel Grabauskas, the general manager of the MBTA.
By his second birthday, CharlieCard will be the fare of choice on commuter trains, with ferries and parking lots on the horizon, said Grabauskas, who took the toddler metaphor a step farther.
"Maybe we should have called him Baby Einstein," Grabauskas mused. "Actually, the smart ones are our customers."
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