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Rapid transit tokens

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Rapid transit tokens
Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, November 12, 2022 8:30 PM

     My wife has an estate sale business. We've run across a bag of tokens that someone collected. They are smaller and lighter weight than a dime. Each has a name of a transit line, railroad or city on it. They also have a letter punched out of the center. For examaple, the Sioux Falls Rapid Transit token has an 'S' punched out of it. They're pretty detailed. 

What can anyone tell me about these? I know the Sioux Falls tokens would be 100+ years old. It looks like these are all the same size. Could they be used in different place? Were they put into a slot, or handed to a conductor? Why not just use change instead of tokens?

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Sunday, November 13, 2022 9:52 AM

Most transit operators used fare tokens at some point.  As a rule, they were good only on the one operator: you couldn't use a CTA token on South Suburban Safeway Lines.  You usually dropped them in the farebox.  A token represented a full fare and was generally easier to use than change.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, November 13, 2022 4:59 PM

One reason for tokens was that conductors could not make them disappear like change - remember the old 'throw the take on the roof and whatever sticks to the car belongs to the company'.

A number of problems with fare cheating are simplified when the only thing 'valid' in a farebox is a specific token; the slot in the middle could be used for mechanical verification.

It was also possible to sell rolls of tokens at a discount from nominal fare as an incentive to ridership.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, November 13, 2022 8:33 PM

In New York City the tokens were dropped into a slot to allow the turnstile to turn so the passenger could enter the platform area.

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Posted by NKP guy on Monday, November 14, 2022 9:26 AM

   The Shaker Heights Rapid Transit Lines had fare collection booths and turnstiles downtown at their station underneath the Terminal Tower in Cleveland.  The turnstiles accepted either tokens or change.  At the fare booth the agent made change and sold tokens; Overmod is quite right about the discount one could get using tokens.  When fares were a quarter each, a stack (they never came rolled up) of ten tokens might sell for two dollars, or something like that.  So they made sense for commuters.

   On Fridays, those booth attendants would have many small stacks of tokens for sale.  Riders would wordlessly slide two dollars to the attendant and he'd slide a stack or two of tokens over to them.  In your pocket you could easily feel the punched out letters, in this case RT (for Rapid Transit, as Clevelanders termed it) and find your fare.  

   On fantrips it was common to see one or two people put a token on the track for the streetcar to mash flat into a souvenir; I have one of those myself.  I've even seen girls put a chain through the RT and wear it as a necklace!

   When the SHRT became part of the Greater Cleveland RTA in the 1970's, the old tokens were retired and became one of those small items that one keeps in a drawer for years or decades as a "token" of one's experiences as a railfan.

    

   

  

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, November 14, 2022 9:55 AM

NKP guy

   When the SHRT became part of the Greater Cleveland RTA in the 1970's, the old tokens were retired and became one of those small items that one keeps in a drawer for years or decades as a "token" of one's experiences as a railfan.

 

Not unlike the NYCTA token that I used to keep in the bottom of my camera bag until it got lost somewhere.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Overmod on Monday, November 14, 2022 10:11 AM

The cufflinks I wore to black-tie events, when I still went to those, were made from NYCTA 'diamond jubilee' tokens, with their diamond-shaped special cutout.  Hard to believe tokens like them were generally used in circulation...

... my mother related a story about my father going on a trip to Vegas in the early '60s, and coming back with over $100 in silver dollars... which my mother took and spent at face value in the supermarket.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, November 14, 2022 11:56 AM

Overmod
. my mother related a story about my father going on a trip to Vegas in the early '60s, and coming back with over $100 in silver dollars... which my mother took and spent at face value in the supermarket.

Wasn't unusual back then, silver dollars (REAL silver dollars) were still in circulation and no-one thought anything about spending them.  Same with REAL silver quarters and fifty-cent pieces.

If we only knew!  Bang Head

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Posted by York1 on Monday, November 14, 2022 12:03 PM

Flintlock76

 

 
Overmod
. my mother related a story about my father going on a trip to Vegas in the early '60s, and coming back with over $100 in silver dollars... which my mother took and spent at face value in the supermarket.

 

Wasn't unusual back then, silver dollars (REAL silver dollars) were still in circulation and no-one thought anything about spending them.  Same with REAL silver quarters and fifty-cent pieces.

If we only knew!  Bang Head

 

 

In the 50s-early 60s, I had a paper route with 150 customers.  I had to go personally to each customer to collect.  The paper was 35¢ a week.  Some paid weekly, some paid monthly.  Each week I came home with a bag full of silver dollars, half-dollars, etc.  I never thought to keep any of them.

York1 John       

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Posted by 54light15 on Monday, November 14, 2022 1:02 PM

On my last trip to NYC to meet a friend over from London, we went into a subway entrance. I asked for a dozen tokens. She said they haven't had tokens in over 15 years. I guess I'd been away a while. 

One thing about silver dollars; when you had one you felt like you had something that was worth something instead of a grimy piece of paper.  

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, November 14, 2022 1:51 PM

Tokens have been replaced with the development of fare cards like Metrocard, Ventra, etc.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, November 14, 2022 7:07 PM

Overmod

One reason for tokens was that conductors could not make them disappear like change - remember the old 'throw the take on the roof and whatever sticks to the car belongs to the company'.

A number of problems with fare cheating are simplified when the only thing 'valid' in a farebox is a specific token; the slot in the middle could be used for mechanical verification.

It was also possible to sell rolls of tokens at a discount from nominal fare as an incentive to ridership.

 

Are you saying that the slot in the coin meant it would only be accepted by a turnstile with the same slot?

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, November 14, 2022 7:27 PM

Septa sold tolkens until 2018?  I guess they still accept them if you have them.  

 

I was at an old arcade in a 3/4 dead mall several years ago.  The machines still ran on tokens and gave out paper prize tickets.  The tokens had all sorts of old defunct arcade names on them.  Was pretty cool, actually. 

  

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of

my employer, any other railroad, company, or person.

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