The new MyCharlie site is here. We tried it out.

Commentary

It’s an improvement … Except where it’s not.

The new MyCharlie website went live on Wednesday, Nov. 15. John Blanding, Boston Globe staff

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, the MBTA’s old CharlieCard website was officially retired “and replaced with an updated version that is more accessible and easier to use,” according to the agency. But is it? We ran the new site through its paces to find out.

The log in

There’s a key piece of information for “existing MyCharlie users” about signing in on the new MyCharlie login page: “​Sign up using the email address you used for the old MyCharlie site to get started.”

Unfortunately, I read “sign up” as “sign in.” If you make the same mistake, when you try to log into the new MyCharlie site using your old login credentials — which is what I did — you’ll be notified that your email or password is incorrect.

This led me to a series of misadventures in which I chose the “Forgot password” option and was sent to a reset password page, after which the site declared, “Success! You should receive an email shortly with instructions.” (Narrator: He never received the email.)

Eventually I came up with the idea on my own to create a new account using the same email address I had used earlier. Sure enough, that worked — and when I got to the site, the CharlieCard I’d registered on the old site was listed right there on the dashboard. So, as promised (had I read the login page accurately), it recognized and allowed me access to my old account — I just had to create a “new” account to do it. (FWIW, seems like I’m not the only one who got tripped up.)

Navigating the site

As mentioned, my old CharlieCard was listed on my MyCharlie dashboard page, and it even had the old nickname I’d given it, “Pete’s Charlie Card.” Three dots next to the card name offer the following options: Rename, Replace, and Archive. 

The “Replace” function is by far the most useful of these, in that it allows you to transfer whatever funds you had on your old card to a new one should the old card be lost or stolen. The interface is super simple: You basically check a replacement reason (lost, stolen, etc.) and a shipping address, and off you go.

(The “Rename” option was also quite simple, and I was afraid to click “Archive” on the chance the card disappeared forever and I wouldn’t be able to get home, like the card’s original namesake. But it appears that for completists who would like to disappear a card they’re no longer using, the option is there.)

The replace function is also listed as its own option under a “CharlieCards” menu at the top of the page, along with a “Register CharlieCard option” to enter a new card — or cards — that you’ve purchased. Sadly, there is no option to order a new CharlieCard and have it delivered. 

Auto-pay options

  • Over 200 readers voted: Here’s how they feel about updates to the CharlieCard

  • No more recharging CharlieCards online when new site launches

The site’s one other menu is “Auto-pay,” with two choices offered: “Your Auto-pay subscription” and “Add Auto-pay subscription.” The add function is super easy to understand and use, and would be a good option for the unlucky few who still commute five days a week — but if your monthly fare costs are typically less than, say, the $90 a bus and subway pass would cost you each month, you’re out of luck.

As one of the apparently few commuters who used the online recharge function on the old CharlieCard site, its absence on the new interface definitely stings. Yes, I had to activate the online recharge by tapping my card at a T station, and it wasn’t good until 5 a.m. the next day. (So recharging during the workday for the ride home was out.) But it beat having to stop at a machine and fumble with my credit card, which will force me to break my rule of never slowing down or stopping in a T station for any reason.

One other item missing, but promised to be activated soon, is the ability for reduced fare cardholders to get reduced monthly passes automatically loaded onto a standard CharlieCard. So if that’s you, that’s a plus (when it happens).

Overall evaluation

There’s no denying that the new MyCharlie site is a drastic improvement over the old one when it comes to look, interface, and navigability. (Which, let’s face it, wasn’t hard: The old site looked like the one Brie Larson uses at the 1995 internet cafe in “Captain Marvel.”) It really couldn’t be simpler, or cleaner in its design and layout, and if you have use for one of its offerings, it should serve you well.

But until you can recharge your card online, and ideally order one sent to your home, it’s still a slow zone that could have been a straight shot.


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