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HUIDs Will Double as CharlieCards for Class of 2021

All Aboard
Passengers line up outside an arriving MBTA subway car, preparing to board during rush hour traffic on a Thursday evening. From next year, undergraduate HUIDs for new students will add MBTA CharlieCard functionality.
Harvard University IDs will double as MBTA CharlieCards for the incoming Class of 2021 in a pilot program, the Undergraduate Council announced at their general meeting on Sunday.

While students currently have to purchase separate CharlieCards in order to ride Boston public transportation, the pilot HUID will combine the two functions into a single card. The UC launched a pilot program for 100 students in conjunction with the Harvard Office for Sustainability and Harvard Transportation and Parking in 2015.

“There’s going to be a chip placed into the incoming class of 2021’s Harvard IDs that corresponds with the CharlieCard system, so they don't need a separate CharlieCard,” said Student Life Committee Chair Katherine E. Wang ’20, an active Crimson editor, at Sunday night’s general meeting.

Although details of the project have not been officially announced, Wang said current students would likely have to purchase a new HUID if they wanted the dual CharlieCard functionality.

UC President Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18 said the UC has been instrumental in pushing the administration to add the CharlieCard capacity to HUIDs.

HUID and Charlie Card
The Undergraduate Council has announced a planned a system of integration between Charlie Cards and HUIDs for incoming freshmen.

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“It was like a four or five year long project. The UC has really been in communications the entire time. So really congrats to all involved,” she said.

Former UC Vice President Jen Q. Zhu ’14 said she remembered working on the project, which ran into headwinds due to cost and security issues raised by Harvard administrators.

“We tried to start it in the fall of 2012, because one of the freshman UC reps noticed that MIT student cards can also double as their CharlieCard,” she said. “There was just concerns about cost and that having the merge of Harvard IDs and MBTA information might lead to leaking high-security information or swipe access of Harvard cards.”

Zhu said she hoped this project inspired representatives to realize they can take initiative without relying upon the administration.

“I think it’s hard for the administration to always understand the perspective and wants and needs of students, so I think it’s fine for ideas and projects to originate from the students, as long as the administration is truly open and receptive to hearing these ideas and working with us,” she said.

“If I ever go to Harvard for grad school, I expect to use my ID for CharlieCards,” she added.

—Staff writer Andrew J. Zucker can be reached at andrew.zucker@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJZucker.

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