Shopping centres and strip malls incur enormous costs in providing “free parking”. The costs of these spaces are buried in the price of merchandise, paid for equally by walk-ins, cyclists, and transit users as well as those who park there. As cities get larger, “free” parking lots attract “freeloaders” who want to park there but not necessarily shop. St Laurent Shopping Centre, for example, has to rope off parts of the mall lots early in the morning and take other measures to prevent their parking lot from becoming a “park and ride”.
The shopping mall below, in Cambridge MA (beside Boston) has a pay-for-parking model as their large garage is shared by offices, two hotels, and the mall, and is conveniently located just off a freeway and has a transit line to the downtown. The potential misuse of the parking facility is obvious.
So, they reward shoppers who shop. AND they reward transit users who shop by transit. A “Charlie Card” is the marketing name of the tickets/passcards for the MBTA transit system bus, streetcar, and subway system.
I simply showed my purchase receipt at the info kiosk, they stamped my receipt and gave me the card and in that mahvellous Boston accent told me to enjoy my visit. I did.