At the transit museum store, you can buy a set of the five “historic” New York City subway tokens, introduced in 1953, 1970, 1980, 1986 and 1995, as well as subway tokens made into key rings, lapel pins, cuff links, bracelets, and money clips. Other stores sell ashtrays, paperweights, drinking glasses, coasters, mugs, ties, t-shirts, Christmas ornaments, even dresses festooned with the image of the token. ThePeople’s Hall of Fame, which honors New Yorkers every year for contributions to the city’s cultural life, presents inductees with an enormous replica of a token. There are Frisbees shaped like giant tokens. The only thing the New York City subway token will no longer be used for, as of May 4, is to get you onto the subway.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority ended all sales of the token at midnight April 12. On May 4, when the transit fare is scheduled to rise from $1.50 to $2, the 13 million tokens still circulating will no longer be “good for one fare” on the subway, leaving the Metrocard the exclusive currency of straphangers. Bus fare boxes will accept tokens (plus 50 cents) until December 31. Then, 50 years after its birth, the little brass coin will essentially end its working life – except for one small gig: For the time being, tokens will continue to be sold for $1.50 and used at the Roosevelt Island Tram, which is run by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, not the MTA.
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