Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Transit Tokens of the World

This is a map that I started about two years ago but got interrupted by various events including a global pandemic. I saw a bunch of old tokens for sale in a store, including one for Rockford, Illinois that I bought for a friend from there.

Upon further research I discovered a whole world of these things online and made a map of them. You can move around and click on a token to see a bigger image. 

This is a worldwide phenomenon though most of the tokens are from the United States.

Some notes about this project:

Most of these are bus tokens, the Midwest seems to be very fertile ground for these.

The larger cities have multiple tokens. I tried to choose the most "rapid" form of transit, for example subway over bus, and also use tokens from the "classic" era (the golden age of transit-in the U.S. approximately mid-20th Century). There are three city transit systems I have a lot of experience with, making those decisions a little more personal. For Boston, a city where I was a subway commuter for a few years I chose the tokens that I actually used on a daily basis. For Philadelphia, though it was tempting to use the SEPTA tokens that I used often in the 1980's and 90's, I went with a more "classic" look. For New York I used what I think of as the classic NYC token with the hole in the Y.

European tokens are very hard to come by and I suspect that most of those systems used some kind of ticket instead of a token. The token from Paris has a nice map on it but is a 50th Anniversary collectible that was probably not used for an normal admission.

I could not find tokens for many other European cities that I know have good subway systems. Most of the European ones are from former Soviet Union republics.

Asia has some very strangely colorful tokens. Possibly plastic?

Click here to explore. If anyone has other tokens they want added to this project, please send them along!

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