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September 8th, 2004

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So the Boston Globe is reporting that the MBTA is looking into going all Smart Card by 2006. That means getting rid of our old pals, the golden (formerly silver) T tokens and switching completely to those crazy space-age automated fare Metrocard-like things that other modern light transit systems use. This also means, as slyly noted in one line of the article, that they plan on going to a structured fare system and raising the fare during rush hour periods. It'd be a dream of mine that all proceeds from the higher fares would go towards developing a cure for the overpowering stench of urine which can be enjoyed at certain spots in certain T stations (Nature's Miracle for people?) or perhaps finding a way to put more than two trains on the Orange Line on a Sunday of a holiday weekend. Maybe they can even put some of this extra money towards developing artificial intelligence which will be able to override human judgement -- the human judgement that scheduled Red Line track repair on the aforementioned holiday weekend, for one.

Oh, but I snark. What got me most about the article was the fact that they need a name for these smart cards. The article mentions what other cities have done for their card systems -- given them a simple, catchy name that reflects the region or at least gives the card character. Seattle and Puget Sound will get the "Orca", Hong Kong has the Octopus, and London has the Oyster (I'm guessing the slogan there is "the city is your..." ?)

And what did the inventive geniuses of Dinkus, Dorkus and Malorkus come up with for Boston? Check out these winners, which were bandied about in a focus group:
  • T Liberty
  • T Hub
  • T Zap
  • T Go
  • T Vantage
  • T Plus
Oh, wait, wait, here, let me add a suggestion of my own:
  • T These Names All Suck
I realize this joke would've been 100% better had the letter been G instead of T, but I guess they really really really really like that T motif.

However, the best suggestion so far came almost as an ad-lib from a MBTA board member: The Charlie Card. That's as in Charlie on the MTA. One of my favorite songs ever, but that's beside the point -- this name comes complete with its own ready-to-sing jingle and, in some cases, accurately describes the T to a, well, tee. (O ye citizens of Boston, don't you think it's a scandal / How the people have to pay and pay?)

Of course, being a town of stubborn Yankees and almost-stubborn transplants, I predict everybody'll just be calling them "T cahds" no matter what. Now there's a good idea -- why not call it the Cod? Excellent pun and we get that seafaring creature angle that the other cities seem to like. And it pays homage to the fish that kept this state solvent during the lean years. Don't believe me? Visit the Massachusetts State House sometime and check out the Sacred Cod in the representatives' chambers. They open their sessions by pledging allegiance to the Sacred Cod, I kid you not.

Ah well. The T is the transit system I love to hate, and I eagerly look forward to having more reasons to do so.

(12 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 12:01 am (UTC)
Oh, they really should call it the Charlie Card. That would rock.

Even if they end up naming it something predictably stupid like T Hub, we should try to make Charlie the common slang for it.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 12:15 am (UTC)
The Charlie Card - that's great.

Perhaps the smart card manufacturers should explain that it's actually a condition of having a smart card system that you need to name it after a marine animal.
Date:September 8th, 2004 05:26 am (UTC)
Charlie is a marine animal?

Personally, I dunno about this whole smaht cahd deal. It always seemed sort of wasteful to me, what with the gadzillions of little paper cards strewn waist-deep all about the fine city of New York, compared with those tokens that have been in circulation since the Lamps were still in place. (...dear god, Kass has corrupted me into the ways of Tolkiengeekery.)

But, if we have to have one, I recommend just calling it "The Smaht Cahd".
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 10:35 am (UTC)
Yeah, I do actually prefer the tokens. Less litter, and they're more aesthetically pleasing.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 05:23 am (UTC)
Well, the logical choice is T-Mobile, except the phone company got there first.

Won't people just call them "T Passes" like they do now, only with the option of "one-shot" added to "monthly" and "combo" and "weakly?"

(That's not a typo, that's commentary.)
Date:September 8th, 2004 06:12 am (UTC)


In the Twin Cities, they're called GoTo cards. Still in testing, won't be rolled out for a month or two.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 06:46 am (UTC)
Anyone who suggests a name with "vantage" in it deserves to be shot.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 06:53 am (UTC)
I'll be sure to hoard some T tokens when I'm in Boston next week.
(Let me know if you wanna get together and drink it up.)

Oh, and the Charlie card is perfect. The light rail here in Minneapolis has a lame name (as someone already posted).
Date:September 8th, 2004 08:05 am (UTC)
I call the light rail "The goddamnit-get-the-hell-out-of-my-way-I-want-to-cross-5th-street rail"
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 08:01 pm (UTC)
That'd be awfully hard to fit on a credit card-sized piece of plasticy paper.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 07:57 am (UTC)
He put a smaht cahd in his pocket, kissed his wife and family, went to ride on the Em Tea Ayyy.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2004 10:28 am (UTC)
What the fuck? Why do they have to have names?

BART cards don't have names unless you buy the transit-combo pass (that allows you to ride BART and MUNI (both rail & bus)) which is called BARTPlus. Any other time they're just tickets or passes.

I am irritated with the concept that everything should have some kind of catchy zingy name that people can remember, even when (as with the case of TRAIN PASSES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD) there's no reason for it.

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