Curious Whether The T Is Over Charging Riders

BOSTON (CBS) — It’s supposed to save you time, but the MBTA’s Charlie Card may be costing you more money than it should.

Riders load the cards with fare money and use them to zip through turnstiles.

But some riders are getting overcharged.

Carolyn Cribbie Declared her Curiosity asking: “How many people check to make sure the T isn’t deducting extra money from their Charlie Cards?”

Cribbie takes the express bus from Woburn to Government Center, where she gets on the subway. The transfer is supposed to be free within two hours, but she says recently she’s noticed that transfer costs her $1.70.

A similar thing happened to Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate who is always watching hit pennies. He was overcharged by $1.25.

“If you’re at a parking meter and you still have a minute left you don’t want to get a ticket. You had time left!” declares Dworsky of

T general manager Richard Davey said he knows an issue with a particular farebox has been addressed. Her card was being stamped with the wrong time.

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports.

The system doesn’t allow riders to check their transactions online.

The only way to protect yourself is to remember how much is left on your card as you rush through the turnstile. If you didn’t know what the balance was ahead of time you don’t know you were just charged again.

The T has been sending Cribbie refund cards, but not Dworsky.

The T says it’s looking at the possibility of offering transaction information online, but it doesn’t know yet when that might happen.

More from Declare Your Curiosity
  • Susan

    I’d love to know why, when they were picking systems to replace the tokens, they didn’t go with the one used on the Washington, D.C. subway. It prints ON THE PASS the value and it updates the value every time you use it.

    • Dave

      Why? Because mASS, the country’s DUMBEST state ALWAYS has to do EVERYTHING different. Did the same thing with Fastlane. Stupidity ALWAYS trumps intelligence here



  • Bryce Avery

    Yesterday I switched my Charlie card to a monthly pass. I think before I switched the card it had around $12 left on it. After watching this story last night I sent Charlie card customer service an email to check on the transaction history of my card and to see if I could get the remaining balance on my card returned given I set the card up for recurring monthly pass. Here is there response, “The stored value will just sit basically on the back end of the CharlieCard until there is no longer a monthly pass on the card. The monthly pass will be the used primarily.

    As far as any double charge, I am not sure I understand what a double charge would be for. You will have to check your credit card/bank statement for any double charges. If you locate any then you can give us a call.”


    “Unfortunately the system does not work like that. Yes the stored value will remain on the CharlieCard and they will not give that money back to you. The MBTA is not keeping your money, it was your choice to put the value on the card.

    The MBTA has a strict privacy policy on CharlieCard usage and does not provide that information.”

    I guess Mr. Davey wasn’t serious about the MBTA returning any over paid money.

    • Dreamstalker

      So the only way to get a refund is if you loaded money using a credit card? With the problems reported with cards at the kiosks I use only cash. Guess I’m SOL then.

      We have a few stored-value cards laying around to use when guests come in town; every so often I take them to a kiosk just to verify which ones have $ and how much. Twice I’ve had cards show up as “no value” at the kiosk yet if I try using them in a fare gate/box it works (and then gives the remaining value, but it seems pointless).

  • Kristine

    After watching this report last night, I actually took the time this morning on my way to work (I take the bus and also the train) and I was charged a full fare for getting on the subway even though my bus ride was only 15mins. I will be contacting the MBTA for a refund.

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  • Brenda

    Twice last week I noticed that a card that I had put $10 on had no value even though I knew it should have had more money on it. It’s simple math really – if on Monday morning I by a charlie card with $10 on it and I only get on the redline at so station and switch to the green line and get off, then it should only be $2 – thus, a $10 should get me 5 rides… not the case at all!!! I had to buy an extra card. So now I am going to only buy fares $2 at a time so the T can’t rip me off again! An extra $4 every week is too much to lose! Oh and when you put your card in and it says see an attendant – GOOD LUCK FINDING one near the turn styles!!! With the trains running the way they have due the weather and mechanical problems who has time to go looking for a T employee. I work hard for my money, but the T seems to be making easy money from its customers.

  • taxedout

    Hey you gotta keep those T workers and Exect in the style they are accustomed too!!! Dumbells in this state Still don’t know when they are getting Scammed!!!!! Keep Waiting and Paying!!!!!

  • emom

    are they kidding REALLY ARE THEY

  • Timmy

    Susan wrote, “I’d love to know why, when they were picking systems to replace the tokens, they didn’t go with the one used on the Washington, D.C. subway. It prints ON THE PASS the value and it updates the value every time you use it.”

    Susan, the DC Metro printing is only for the old fashioned paper tickets, not the SmarTrip smart card, which is comparable to the Charlie Card. SmarTrip is mandatory for paying for parking.

  • Dreamstalker

    I lost a stored-value card (TAP) and had it replaced with a monthly. That card had problems (apparently not reading so I was asked to “try again”); the stored-value card makes more sense for me so I went to get it replaced/switched back. I’m not sure how they calculate transferring $ from stored-value to monthly (and back) but it seemed as if there were a few fares’ worth missing from what I remembered being on the card…

    I’ve also had issues with transfers overcharging, but there’s no way to truly verify that except to see it online. TAP cards are in the system anyway; it shouldn’t be that hard to let users view it online.

  • Steven

    The way I learned to not get charged extra, is you only put the amount of the fare on the card. then when you go and board another bus it either lets you go with a transfer, or it tries to take more money and tells you not enough value. If it says not enough value I make the driver check and it shows that the far box of either the 1st bus or 2nd buses time stamp is off. That’s how they get away with charging you twice, you were within the 2 hours but the clock on 1 of the machines is wrong.

  • taxedout

    They are now selling Clothes at the T.;…Shirts, Hats, etc…..Please buy these items as they will go directly to cutting the T’s debt!!!!!

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