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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 49, December 3, 2006, Article 26

TORONTO TRANSIT INTRODUCES NEW TOKEN

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) recently announced a new token,
bucking (at least temporarily) the inexorable worldwide trend toward
electronic fare payment systems.  The story was discussed by editor
John Regitko in the November 26th issue of the C.N.A. E-Bulletin
(v2n34) published by the Canadian Numismatic Association.  With
permission, we're reprinting much of the article here:

"A total of 24 million tokens were previously in use. With the
change in the tokens today, the old ones will no longer work in
the turnstiles.

Twenty million of the new tokens were manufactured by Osborne Coinage
of Cincinnati, Ohio (www.osbornecoin.com) at a cost of $1.7 million,
or 8.5 cents per token. Explaining the TTC’s sole-source contract, a
spokesperson stated that the firm offered unique security features
that have made it a well-regarded supplier of casino slot tokens. One
TTC manager estimated it will cost the TTC no more than several
thousand dollars to modify each token receptacle to accept the new
tokens.

On average, the TTC estimates that it loses about $7 million a year
through fraud, including gate jumping and the use of fake tokens and
Metropasses. That loss represents just under 1 per cent of the
system’s total revenue.

Members of a cross-border counterfeit ring that cost the TTC about
$10 million were arrested earlier this year, prompting the token
redesign. “(It is a) much more complex token. There are edge markers.
It’s textured,” said TTC spokesperson Marilyn Bolton. “We’re not
announcing what the metals are.”

The new tokens are the size of a dime but vaguely resemble the gold-
and silver-colored Canadian toonie. It incorporates design features
intended to thwart would-be counterfeiters. The swirl pattern on the
face of the coin and ridged edges will make the new token expensive
to fake, TTC officials say.

Asked why the TTC doesn’t move away from the old coin and paper ticket
fare formats and towards something like the bar-coded MetroCard commuters
swipe at turnstiles in Manhattan, TTC Chair Howard Moscoe said it costs
too much to build a whole new fare payment system. “It will take time
and it is a huge cost, and now the province is making sounds about
paying for a region wide fare card. I’d rather spend on new buses.
Smart cards are coming.”

Although the new token was available for sale and use earlier today,
you can still use the old tokens on the TTC transit system right up
until January 31, 2007. After January 31, 2007, the old token can no
longer be used as TTC fare. Starting January 2, 2007, an old token
can be exchanged for a new token at selected locations. Or you can
simply hang onto them as traders with other vecturists."

For an illustration of the new token and further details, go to
new_token.htm

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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