Hank Investigates: Charlie Tickets

MBTA riders–have you seen this yet? It’s in black and white now printed on your Charlie ticket– the date your ticket expires. It’s there because of our investigation.

We’d revealed these Charlie tickets, the paper ones you buy from a dispenser–were only good for 18 months.

And we found–there was no warning of that on the tickets or the vending machines or the website. Riders just got a surprise "expired"  when they tried to go through the gate.

When we asked the T about that, in June, officials had to admit their policy wasn’t clear.

August 25, 2010:


"Why not tell customers when they buy the ticket, this is going to expire?"

Joe Kelley, MBTA Deputy GM

"Well, we could do a better job advertising that to the customer."

And as a result–it’s now on every ticket. But–after seeing our story–the state treasurer says Charlie tickets shouldn’t expire at all.

Tim Cahill, State Treasurer

"I think it’s wrong for the MBTA to keep people’s money that has been prepaid."

So Cahill says he’s sending a bill to the legislature to make pre-paid Charlie tickets "redeemable in perpetuity."

Tim Cahill, State Treasurer

"The tickets should be good forever."

The Ts GM says, no way keeping track of all those tickets would be way too complicated.

Richard Davey, MBTA General Manager  

"I think from an accounting perspective and back office perspective trying to keep this information for years and years and years, it just doesn’t make any sense. I think it’s a reasonable policy we have in place."

The T sent us a spreadsheet showing how tickets in other subway systems expire–in Los Angeles, after three hours. And in Chicago after a year. 

Richard Davey, MBTA General Manager

"We’re well in line with our industry."

But in New Jersey, they never expire.  So T riders, soon it’ll be up to Massachusetts lawmakers to decide: To expire or not to expire?  The state treasurer thinks that’s an easy one.

Tim Cahill, MA State Treasurer

"It’s not the T’s money, it belongs to the people who purchased the card."

The T says if you have an expired Charlie ticket now, you don’t have to lose your money. Just bring it to the Downtown Crossing customer service center, and they’ll transfer the value to a plastic Charlie card.

(Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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