Author Topic: All aboard in the US  (Read 11332 times)

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Offline Figleaf

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All aboard in the US
« on: March 29, 2010, 01:45:22 PM »
After 1918, buildings in the centre of US cities* got bigger and bigger quickly. The consequence was a need for more and more cheap transportation from the suburbs to the centre. The introduction of urban and underground railroads in the US brought relief, but also a new problem: how to process payments of great gobs of humanity all wanting to travel at the same time. The answer was the turnstile and the transportation token. I just got a few (thanks, KoC). I'll show them here together with the ones I already had.

Strikingly, many of them have the same size. Yet, railway operators were different from one city to another an they wouldn't want "foreign" tokens in their turnstiles. Some of the tokens are made in a different metal, so their magnetic properties probably differ, but I think the main security feature was the different openings. I am not sure how they were measured accurately, as the tokens are round, so the openings could end up anywhere in the machine, but they are strikingly different. Because the size of the openings differ, weights differ from 1.3 to 1.9 grams, maybe not enough to differentiate in a machine.

The first is from Boston, with a nice front view of a train. I think this is an R5 regional train.



The exploiting company is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Its logo is a T in a circle, so it is commonly called the "T".

Peter


*European cities tend to have their tallest buildings in te outskirts, while the old buildings in the centre are relatively low.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2010, 12:54:31 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2010, 12:45:35 PM »
The grandly named Cleveland interurban railroad consists of two lines that share about half of their stations, with a third "line" commuting between three central stations. That's enough for a subway token for "one fare". The cutout RT stands for Rapid Transport as in RTA or Rapid Transport Authority, the Commission Exploiting the network. The "rapid" may be in the eye of the beholder.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2010, 01:04:07 PM »
The District of Columbia (Washington) underground railway system is amazing in several ways. It is a young system, having been started only in the sixties, it is nevertheless one of the largest in the US and its cavernous stations give the sort of quick understanding of where you are and where you want to go totally lacking in e.g. the Paris and London undergrounds. The name of the network, Metro, does not occur on this token. Instead, there is District of Columbia Transit, referring to the owners of the network: the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. It is therefore likely that this is a bus token.

The word "capital" reminds me of coins of Aachen, that have legends insisting that Aachen was at the time the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Strange, if you have to remind people where the capital is...

Peter
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 05:53:50 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2010, 02:14:48 PM »
Distracted drivers are dangerous, says the DTS, the City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services. I know, but distraction is part of my lifestyle, so I have given up driving.

DTS does not yet run a railway line, so this must be a bus token. It is dated 1924 and valid for a "full fare". The date is not necessarily the date of manufacture and being a bus token explains the word "full". Bus drivers can check age, turnstiles can't.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2010, 02:39:22 PM »
Minneapolis does have its rail network, but it runs above ground. That's not a reason to forego tokens, especially if there are also a few bus lines. The token is hard to read. On the central square is an M, probably for Metro Transit, as the Minneapolis system is known. Around is MINNEAPOLIS and ST. RY. CO. I wonder what the ST stands for. If it stands for Slow Transport (as opposed to rapid transport) my vote for honesty goes to Minneapolis. The other side proclaims that it is GOOD FOR ONE FARE, but there is also a text in script I cannot decipher.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 05:54:24 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2010, 02:58:21 PM »
The Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (PRT) came about in 1907. It merged away to become the City Transit Division, becoming the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC), now the unhappily named SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), since this is the plural of septum, a yuckie medical term. I am grateful there is no Reno and Environs Community Transportation Authority (RECTA).

The first token can only be dated after 1907, because of the PRT monogram, while the second, with its PTC monogram could only have been struck after 1968. Both are 16.4 mm, opening the possibility that the older ones could still have been used alongside the new ones, though the older token is 1.6 gram and the newer one 1.9 gram.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 04:52:39 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2010, 03:09:22 PM »
Seattle Transit was established in 1939. This smiley token is remarkable for probably being the only local railway or bus token that features trees and a mountain so prominently. The present successor of the company is called Metro Transit. I can't read what's below the scenery of the upper picture (Becket?). It may be the name of the producer of the tokens or the machines that take them.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 06:00:47 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2010, 03:29:54 PM »
St. Louis has been an early proponent of good public transport. Its horse drawn tram network was opened in 1859. Its successor, the cable tram network, was one of the largest in the US. From 1890, cable trams were replaced by electric trams, leading to a concentration of a number of small companies into the United Railways of St. Louis in 1899. This company existed with large ups and downs (it went broke in 1919, the date on the token) until subsumed by the city as the St. Louis Public Service Co. The importance of public transport may be explained by the presence in the city of the St. Louis Car Company, that used to be one of the world's largest makers of train and tram cars. Today's subway system consists of 2 lines with many shared stations. They are operated by the Bi-State Development Agency, the successor of the United Railways of St. Louis.

The cutouts form the letter U, but only on the "denomination" side. It is more usual to see the cutouts correctly on the side with the name of the issuing company.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2010, 05:12:29 PM »
The Syracuse Transit Corporation was subsumed in the present day operator, CENTRO, owned by the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority. It's a bus-only operation, making this a bus ticket. Why such a small town would have introduced tokens? My guess is that one reason is the university, filled with students from New York city, who would be used to similar tokens.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 09:29:15 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2010, 05:41:20 PM »
The above tokens are all around 16.45 mm, with the exception of Cleveland. The ones below are around 20.0 mm. I presume the ticket machines were all changed in a relatively short time and for the same reason. One possible reason may have been to amortize the contingent liability of outstanding tickets: by making old tokens impossible to use, accountants would allow you to write down reserves for tokens sold, but not used.

One of the best known of the larger tokens is the one for New York city. It may still surprise that it is bimetallic. Strikingly, it sticks to the format of the previous generation of tokens: issuing authority on one side, value on the other side.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2010, 05:51:27 PM »
Pittsburgh Railways dates from 1902. It was subsumed in the present-day Port Authority of Allegheny County. It ran streetcars and buses, so this is not an underground ticket. The token is dated 1922, but even with that information, I have been unable to identify the type of street car on the token. The numbers 3 on the value side are mysterious to me also.

Peter
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 05:56:41 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline chrisild

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2010, 06:51:20 PM »
The word "capital" reminds me of coins of Aachen, that have legends insisting that Aachen was at the time the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Strange, if you have to remind people where the capital is...

Ah, but it makes sense in both cases. :) The token from Washington DC was probably issued by the public transport system whose name appears on it: "Capital Transit". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_Transit#Monopoly

And Aachen, well, because the Holy Roman Empire did not actually have a capital, they may have thought it was important to point at the city's special status: For several centuries, the HRE/German kings were crowned in Aachen. Have never used such tokens, and Aachen would not need any (they do not have a metro, just that Regiobahn). I suppose the times of the tokens are pretty much over now ...

Christian

Offline chrisild

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2010, 07:13:13 PM »
I wonder what the ST stands for. If it stands for Slow Transport (as opposed to rapid transport) my vote for honesty goes to Minneapolis.

Would be honest indeed, hehe. But it actually means Street, thus "Minneapolis Street Railway". The script I cannot decipher either. The token from Seattle looks interesting - a little less "sober" than the others ...

Christian

Offline Prosit

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2010, 07:43:36 PM »
One reason (so I have been told) is the keep the driver honest.  The driver used to collect the fares.
Dale


..... making this a bus ticket. Why such a small town would have introduced tokens? My guess is that one reason is the university, filled with students from New York city, who would be used to similar tokens.

Peter

constanius

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Re: All aboard in the US
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2010, 01:31:50 AM »
Minneapolis......but there is also a text in script I cannot decipher.

Peter

The script is a signature, probably of the chairman, as these tokens have at least 2 different signatures.
  Looks like Les(or E.A.) Crosby on this one, the same as yours.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2010, 02:11:35 AM by constanius »