The following story was written by Casey Ross and appeared on BostonHerald.com on December 6, 2006
MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas with Rubiela Velez, who purchased the last token in MBTA history.
At 10:23 a.m. today, an East Boston woman bought the last token ever to be sold by the MBTA, officially ending an 80-year-old tradition and commencing the era of the automated CharlieCard.
“You’re part of history,” a smiling MBTA general manager Dan Grabauskas told Rubiela Velez, 47, who walked away from the exchange with a certificate and a CharlieCard stocked with $ 100 in value.
“Thank you very much,” she said shyly, before boarding a train to Lechemere to go Christmas shopping.
The brief ceremony at Government Center station was followed by the removal of the last turnstiles on the T system. Turnstiles throughout the system have been replaced with sleek glass fare gates, part of the T’s $ 200 million transition to a new automated fare system.
Officials with the agency this week began passing out CharlieCards at subway and bus stops across the metropolitan area. The plastic cards, which work like debit cards, are fitted with a microchip that allows customers to add value at vending machines and tap a computerized reader to board buses and subway trains.
The CharlieCards can be used currently on all buses and at most subway stations. The system will be fully converted on buses and subways by Jan. 1. CharlieCards will be available for use on commuter rail lines by fall of 2007.
“This is a big change for us,” Grabauskas said. “This is all about converting the stations into the 21st century here at Government Center and throughout the entire system.”