MBTA works to boost CharlieCard use in Chelsea

The MBTA recently launched an initiative with Chelsea to increase the availability of CharlieCards to local residents who rely on public transportation.

Under the initiative, CharlieCards pre-loaded with $5 will be available for purchase in the Treasury Office, room 313, in City Hall. The MBTA is also providing 500 additional cards with no balance that will be distributed free of charge at City Hall.

Unlike CharlieTickets, which are paper tickets that can be used only until the fare value is exhausted, CharlieCards are reusable plastic cards that can be routinely loaded with stored cash value or one-day, seven-day, or monthly passes.


As a way to encourage use of CharlieCards, the MBTA charges cardholders lower single-ride fares on bus and subway services than customers who pay cash or hold a CharlieTicket. CharlieCards also offer enhanced options for transfers over tickets and cash.

Through a directive issued by the MBTA, CharlieCard holders can also show their cards to conductors to ride the commuter rail between North Station and Chelsea Station. CharlieCards are normally usable only on buses and subways.

Welcoming the initiative, Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said in statement, “Our residents are heavily dependent on public transportation, and the CharlieCard saves money on this essential service. So, we are prepared to do whatever we can to expand access to this cost-saving measure.”

The new program in Chelsea is part of an overall initiative by the MBTA to expand access to CharlieCards, which the agency acknowledges needs to increase, especially in communities with a relatively high reliance on buses, according to MBTA spokeswoman Lisa Battiston.

For more information, contact Danny Levy, the MBTA’s chief customer officer at

John Laidler can be reached at