Transit: Validating your fare at the new Green Line stations

To board a train at the new Green Line stations in Somerville and Medford, the MBTA requires riders to either (1) have a validation slip or (2) tap-after-you-board. This is because of the platform design on the northern branches to Union Square and Tufts University: when you board, the farebox is on the “wrong”, opposite side of the streetcar from the entrance doors. Meanwhile, you tap-as-you-board on the other, western branches of the Green Line, because those doors are on the “right”, same side of the entrance doors.

Having the validation slip means that you don’t have to board and then walk to the front of the streetcar to tap your fare card. So, by getting a validation slip, you may save yourself some trouble. In 2022, the MBTA has not actively enforced getting a validation slip or tapping after you board. However, they are saying that they will begin to do more enforcement in 2023.

In the near future, the MBTA will also install devices to validate your fare inside the train (and also on buses!). So, this is a temporary measure. Their website says that the new validation devices should be active sometime in 2023. Click here to learn more about the MBTA’s fare modernization.

Anyway, find out more information below which stations and how you get a fare validation slip or receipt.

Which stations

This unique and temporary requirement to get a validation slip or tap after you board applies to the stations listed below. Some stations have only one set of fare vending machines. Others have several locations where you can find fare vending machines.

  • Lechmere: East Street, North First Street, busway north, and busway south
  • Union Square
  • East Somerville
  • Gilman Square: School Street and Medford Street
  • Magoun Square
  • Ball Square: Boston Avenue and Broadway (St)
  • Medford/Tufts

I listed a bit more specific information on locations of fare vending machines for Red and Green Line stations in Cambridge and Somerville in another blog post. Click here to read that blog post.

How to get a validation slip

  1. Find the fare vending machine at the station entrance
  2. Tap your CharlieCard on the circular reader
Annotated image showing two items: an example of a fare vending machine and the location of the transit fare card reader. The fare card reader is a circular gray device found in the middle of the machine at about waist-level. It has a green status light on it and a triangular white light below it.  There are some braille and raised text markings on the machine below the fare card read which say "smartcard" and have a chevron pointing toward the reader.
  1. Press the “Validation” button on the lower left of the screen
  2. Tap your CharlieCard on the circular reader, again
  3. Wait – the screen will tell you either (1) how much longer your pass is valid or (2) how much value you have left on your CharlieCard and then show that it’s printing a receipt
  4. Grab your validation slip from the ticket/change return – note that the red color of the light in the ticket/change return doesn’t have a meaning, it’s just red to draw your attention
  5. Walk to the platform to wait then board your train
This image shows the operation of the fare vending machine when an earphone is not plugged in. This image is annotated to show the location of the "validation" button on the touch screen, the location of the fare card reader, and the location where the fare vending machine will dispense the validation slip or receipt.

I have not tried these instructions using the audio jack for earphones on the machine. If these instructions are vastly different for users of earphones, I’ll add an update to this post.