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‘Please Add Them’: Students Report Issues With Using HUIDs as CharlieCards

Commuters refill their CharlieCards at ticket stations in the Harvard Red Line Station. Some Harvard students have reported that their HUIDs are not functioning as ChharileCards.
Commuters refill their CharlieCards at ticket stations in the Harvard Red Line Station. Some Harvard students have reported that their HUIDs are not functioning as ChharileCards. By Briana Howard Pagán
By Aisling A. McLaughlin and Madeline E. Proctor, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard University undergraduate IDs are supposed to work as CharlieCards for the MBTA. But some Harvard students have reported issues with the system.

In 2017, the University piloted a program allowing HUID cards to double as CharlieCards for incoming freshmen, starting with the Class of 2021. Since then, this program has worked well for many Harvard students.

Gracia A. Perala ’25 began riding the T with her HUID as a freshman three years ago and continues to take the Red Line weekly with no issue.

“I’ve never had problems with it before,” Perala said.

However, some students have reported that this feature does not work with their HUIDs.

Jack P. Flanigan ’27 said that after discovering that his HUID did not work when trying to take the MBTA, he reported the issue to Harvard University ID Services. Flanigan, a Crimson Editorial editor, was informed that there was an issue with the card his ID was printed on and was given a free replacement.

“Someone printed this on the wrong kind of ID,” Flanigan said.

It is unclear what is causing some HUID cards to not work as CharlieCards. According to Flanigan, his HUID was missing a CharlieCard serial number, which allows students to access MBTA services, according to the Harvard Campus Service Center website.

Harvard Campus Service Center, Harvard ID Services, and the MBTA did not respond to requests for comment.

Clyve Lawrence ’25 said while his HUID works as a CharlieCard, he has seen others have issues. When going into Boston with a group of friends, his HUID worked at the terminal but his friends’ cards did not.

Lawrence — a Crimson Editorial editor and Cambridge transit activist — said Harvard should encourage students to take public transit as a way to promote sustainable transportation in its role as “ a really prominent member of the Cambridge and Greater Boston community.”

Lawrence also noted that many other Boston-area universities and Harvard’s graduate schools offer reduced rate MBTA passes, but Harvard College does not.

In an emailed statement, Harvard spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo wrote that “while undergraduate students can access areas of campus through various methods such as walking, biking, or utilizing Harvard’s robust shuttle bus system, we understand the desire and need to venture beyond campus - and in sustainable ways.”

Flanigan said he hopes the University fixes the ongoing issues with HUIDs.

“I would love to use my HUID as a CharlieCard,” Flanigan said. “Please add them.”

– Staff writer Aisling A. McLaughlin can be reached at aisling.mclaughlin@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @aislingamcl.

—Staff writer Madeline E. Proctor can be reached at maddie.proctor@thecrimson.com.

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Student LifeCambridgeMBTATransportationMetroFront Middle Feature