Bye, Bye TTC Tokens

Today, March 24, 2023, marks the end of TTC token sales. They have not been available from the TTC directly since 2019, but now are withdrawn from other outlets.

For organizations that give out transit fares, they have been replaced with the Presto “LUM”s (Limited Use Media), small cards that are preloaded with one or a few fares.

The token holders below date from the era of 6/$1 and 5/$1 fares, plus a special commemorative token holder issued for the opening of the Bloor-Danforth subway.

10 thoughts on “Bye, Bye TTC Tokens

  1. I’ve forgotten when tokens were first introduced. Wasn’t it for the opening of the Yonge subway? I also remember the plastic blue token holders. We’ve come a long way when operators also had to sell fares as well!

    Steve: Yes, for the subway in 1954.


  2. Well, no nostalgia from me. Their tiny size meant that they easily got lost. And, the TTC had a problem with counterfeit tokens. I still keep a couple of TTC tokens and a large-ish NYC token as souvenirs. I find Presto very convenient. On a slightly related note, I heard on the radio today that Toronto’s transit fares are sixth highest in the world on an income adjusted basis, and second highest in absolute price, London England being #1. Istanbul Turkiye was mentioned as one the top 6 most expensive places, with 50-cent fares on a quite extensive subway & surface system. Remember, public transit is free in some places!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Like David, I too have fond memories of the blue plastic token holder for that part of my life when I did not have a Metropass since I was not a daily TTC passenger. It attached to my keyring and was very convenient. I could not forget to bring my apartment key when I went out since everything was attached together.

    Now that Presto is in place, it is reasonable to ask “Is it worth the massive $1.2 billion price of installation?” In my opinion, the answer is a loud NO! $1.2 billion would have paid for a lot of service that is not happening because it was spent on Presto instead.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t realize that tokens were still available.
    I remember buying them by the roll on payday.
    Have you tried explaining the current fare system to someone from out of town? to someone from in town?
    I still have a plastic strip with some gold souvenir tokens for the subway extensions.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Several years ago, Andy Byford wanted to phase out collectors at subway stations and make them roving station attendants. Presumably, this would require the phase out of tokens, senior tickets, transfers and POP tickets as these could no longer automatically open the fare gates. Has the roving attendant idea been abandoned? Are there plans to replace paper transfers and POP tickets? An ideal solution would be a smart farebox on buses and streetcars where riders insert coins and receive a Presto ticket with a 2-hour expiry. Is the TTC waiting for Metrolinx to propose something novel?

    Steve: There are at least two factors at work here. First, I think that Byford mistakenly applied the “station manager” model which he knew well from his early years in London to the TTC. From a staffing point of view, many stations only have one collector and they cannot everywhere. Either they are acting as greeters, assistants to passengers and keeping a general watch over the station, or they are wondering to and fro in some very large stations. Second, the TTC Board swallowed the idea on the dubious premise that this would reduce costs. Even before the recent issue of security and safety in stations, it should have been clear that at least as many staff would be needed, possibly more for reasonable coverage. Some stations have been converted, at least partly, but I am not sure how devoted to this model the current management are.


  6. > Have you tried explaining the current fare system to someone from out of town? to someone from in town?

    “Buy the card, load it, tap, it’s $3.25 or whatever now, and you get a 2 hour transfer for that”? I mean that’s pretty standard worldwide. Have you ever tried explaining the old token plus paper transfer system to someone from out of town? “One transfer, or sometimes two, but only to another routes so no stopovers, sometimes you need to push button on the red machine in the subway station where you enter but sometimes not, you can make a stopover in some places if you make your route involve transfers, deity be with you if your vehicle short-turns”? There are many reasons to dislike Presto but I don’t think its simplicity for the riders is one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Steve:

    How many stations still have manned collectors booths in spite of the “roving station manager” program proposed years ago? What would a collector do shut in the booth when there is no fare media to sell or collect?

    The main booth at Sheppard-Yonge station, one of the busiest stations was closed a long time ago and a lot of money was spent to tear it out and convert it to an “info” center which has never opened. There is no TTC presence in the station to oversee the Yonge line, the Sheppard line and the bus area or ask for route or fare information.

    Steve: Yes, the idea of an Info booth at least as a base for the Station Manager was never well thought through. If the intent was to reduce staff, but provide roving assistance, having an empty info booth is of dubious value. There would certainly needs to be a location where station managers could call “home” if only to sit down, preferably in a climate controlled area.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I remember how, circa 1954-55, one could buy spring-loaded brown plastic token dispensers that held perhaps a couple of dozen tokens.


  9. Jarek, there are no reasons at all to dislike PRESTO now, especially considering that the rest of the planet (including many cities in the U.S.) have similar systems (only Toronto and New York were holdouts up until recently, with New York finally getting the OMNY [One Metro New York] contactless smart card this year.)

    Steve: Many of the problems with Presto stem from the fact that the technology upgrade for not just the readers but also the back end systems is still in progress. There are fare “policies” stemming from bad decisions and past limitations, not to mention foot-dragging by Metrolinx and the large sunk cost in their system.


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