City bids adieu to token, April 12 last day to buy

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Straphangers’ last chance to buy subway tokens will come April 12 as a prelude to the end of the line for the brass disc that has been New York City’s underground currency for a half century.

Sales of the coin that has opened turnstiles for millions of subway and bus riders since 1953 will stop April 13.

Subway station agents will begin selling no more than two tokens per person on March 30 and the finale for the token will come at 12:01 a.m. May 4 when turnstiles will no longer accept them and the fare goes to $2 from $1.50.

Tokens will still be accepted on buses until Dec. 31, said Marisa Baldeo, a spokeswoman for the New York Transit Authority. “But, of course, with the $2 fare, bus riders will have to add an additional 50 cents with a token.”

Subway and bus patrons can cash in any unused tokens along with unlimited ride MetroCards when the change comes.

Unused tokens will have to be redeemed at Transit headquarters at 370 Jay St. in Brooklyn.

The MetroCard and the computer microchip that made it possible brought the end of the token, not to mention the overwhelming popularity of the MetroCard and its discounts since it was introduced in 1997.

The Transit Authority will save millions from no longer having to retrieve tokens constantly from turnstiles at 460 subway stations.

Transit officials said only 8 percent of the more than 7 million bus and subway riders still use tokens, which made their debut 50 years ago when the fare reached 15 cents and turnstiles would not accept two different size coins.

Ridership has risen 36 percent since the MetroCard was introduced six years ago, said Lawrence Reuter, president of the New York City Transit Authority.

Transit riders paid a nickel for the first 44 years of the subway system, then a dime before the token came into play.

Updated 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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