Image by David Bruce licensed under Creative Commons.

Have you ever wondered what the transit smart cards around the US look like? Here's are some colorful cards from nine major cities:

Minneapolis: Go-To card 
This card serves the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area's impressive bus, rapid bus, metro, and commuter rail lines. 

Image by Timothy Chavis licensed under Creative Commons.

Chicago: Ventra 
Ventra gets its name from the Latin term for "windy," a nod to Chicago's nickname "Windy City." However, the actual Latin word is "ventosa."

Image by victorgrigas licensed under Creative Commons.

Boston: Charlie Card
The Charlie Card might be the most quirky of the bunch — and the most dark. It's named after a fictional character in a folk song "M.T.A.", which recounts the plight of a man trapped forever on the Boston subway system (at the time called the Metropolitan Transit Authority, or MTA) because he cannot pay the five cents required to exit.

Image by David Bruce licensed under Creative Commons.

Los Angeles: TAP Card 
This card can be used from a long list of providers all over the county, but there are also transit agencies around Los Angeles that do not accept TAP.

Image by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

San Francisco: Clipper Card 
The Clipper Card started as the TransLink in 2002, then rebranded in 2010.

Image by Mia5793 licensed under Creative Commons.


Seattle: Orca card
The Orca card is appropriately accepted at local water-based transit too, including the Washington State Ferries and the King County Water Taxi.

San Diego: Compass card 
You can use the Compass Card to ride the trolley!

Image by busboy4 licensed under Creative Commons.

Miami: Easy Card 
Miami-Dade Transit, the company in charge of the Easy Card, is also rolling out a system called Easy Pay which allows riders to pay fares with their smartphone. 

Image by Comayagua99 licensed under Creative Commons.

New York City: SmartLink
The Port Authority hopes to one day implement a universal fare card for the region's transportation. However, estimates for expanding SmartLink card to the New York City Subway and MTA buses are in the $300 million range just for New York City, so the plan is on ice for now. 

Image by AgentAkit licensed under Creative Commons.

If you'd like to see more beautiful smart cards, you can see some from all over the US and around the world here. Did we leave out your favorite card? 

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Julie Strupp is Lead Editor at Greater Greater Washington. She's a journalist committed to building inclusive, equitable communities and finding solutions. Previously she's worked for DCist, Washingtonian, and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. You can usually find her sparring with her judo club, pedaling around the city, or chatting with her neighbors on her Park View porch.