Modernizing Harvard ID Cards

Allowing HUIDs to double as Charlie Cards for the Class of 2021 is a gratifying change.

This week, the Undergraduate Council announced that the Harvard University ID cards of the incoming Class of 2021 will also serve as Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Charlie Cards. This move comes after a 100-student pilot program carried out by the Harvard Office for Sustainability and Harvard Transportation and Parking over two years ago.

Though the program for the Class of 2021 technically remains a pilot, we are heartened that the UC is giving impetus to the modernization of HUIDs, which will indisputably be a boon to incoming classes. We often criticize the UC leadership for their quixotic campaign promises or occasional pursuit of initiatives that were more or less moribund from the beginning. The UC’s persistence in implementing this measure, however, illustrates that student government has the institutional robustness and maturity to make good on at least some of its long-term promises.

Moreover, this program will bring numerous benefits to the incoming Class of 2021. It can occasionally be difficult to find Charlie Cards in the T station, and, of course, it’s nice to have one fewer card in one’s wallet. Some students may not even know that Charlie Cards exist, which may cause them to incur surcharges when they are purchasing tickets for public transportation. No matter their circumstance, they will be better able to navigate an occasionally overwhelming public transportation system.

The benefits of the improved HUIDs, however, will go beyond convenience. The fact that the entire freshman class will have a T pass with them at all times may incentivize them to use the T more frequently. The Harvard Office for Sustainability’s involvement reflects the more environmentally friendly nature of public transit. Additionally, we hope students will be eager to use the new technology, especially when they arrive on campus, so it’s possible they will better acquaint themselves with the Greater Boston metro, and hence not become entrapped by the Harvard bubble throughout their four years at the College.

We’re glad the University is taking steps—even small ones—to make students’ lives more convenient. Even if the benefits are relatively minor, we encourage the exploration of other improvements that could make HUIDs more versatile. Allowing HUIDs to also serve as Charlie Cards is a welcome change. At worst, it will simply save future classes the expense of purchasing a Charlie Card; at best, it will encourage Harvard students to better explore the great cities of Cambridge and Boston. We hope the UC continues to make decisions that aid students with even seemingly simple issues like transportation.


This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.


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