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The Catalog of Transit Tickets, Tokens, Transfers & Passes from the City of New York revenue fare control New York City of Transit Authority System Board of Transportation Interborough Independent Brooklyn Manhattan Queens Bronx Staten Island Richmond BMT IND IRT fare nickel dime 12 twelve cents rapid elevated subway streetcar trolley bus booth clerk change union heights unification orchard beach transportation port authority avenue street east Broadway third avenue bridge queensboro queensborough triboro green jamaica coney island division railroad shuttle station Elliott Globe National Southern block general order JFK express local half senior handicapped sunday Johnson Fare Box media turnstile token chopper
~ the e-Cyclopedia and Catalog ~

Tickets, Tokens, Transfers & Passes

and the methods of issuance, acceptance and redemption of fare media
from Add-A-Ride Tickets to Zone Checks
and everything in between from:

Transit Companies
of the City of New York

1827 up to the MetroCard; with price guides.

featuring the collections of George S. Cuhaj and Philip M. Goldstein

Unique visitors since July 25, 2021:

Table of Contents


Types of Fare Media and the methods of their collection:
9/21/2022 9/18/2022 10/19/2022

History of Fares in New York City:
1940: First Unification 1953: Second Unification
2005: Third Unification
9/29/2022 9/29/2022 9/29/2022 8/29/2022

Fare Media Catalog - Page Index:
Page 1: Page 2: Page 3:
Fare Tickets &
Employee Passes

Horsedrawn Stage and Omnibus Lines
and tickets for East River Bridges Lines


Horsedrawn Stage & Omnibus Lines;
Independent Trolley & Bus Lines;

pre-unification City of New York - BOT;

NYCTA issues including:
the real first token (the small solid Y);
eleven token designs;
errors, counterfeits
and TimeSaver Paks

Internal Transfers

Inter-divisional Continuing Ride
& Transfers:
Rapid Transit to
Rapid Transit
Rapid Transit to Surface Transit

Surface Transit to Rapid Transit

Combination Tickets

Rapid Transit to Surface Transit
Surface Transit to Rapid Transit

3/24/2024 9/9/2022 1/27/2024
Page 4: Page 5: Page 6:
Continuing Ride Tickets, Transfers & Zone Checks:
Surface - Street Car Lines

Continuing Ride Tickets, Transfers & Zone Checks:
Surface - Bus Routes

City of New York and Private Bus Lines

Inter-divisional Continuing Ride Transfers

Surface Transit to Rapid Transit

Add-A-Ride Tickets:
Surface - Bus Routes

City of New York and Private Bus Lines
2/26/2024 3/17/2024 1/27/2024
Page 7: Page 8: Page 9:

1/27/2024 11/13/2023 3/24/2024
Page 10: Page 11: Page 12:

Special Issue Tickets & Passes

IND Rockaway Line Refund;
JFK Express; Sports Special;
Rockaway Playland Special;
Nostalgia Special;
Block & General Order;
Culture Loop Bus, Shoppers Bus,
Night on the Town Bus, Nightcoach
and Special Issue Passes
Staten Island Rapid Transit

Tickets, Passes & Transfers

Hudson and Manhattan Railroad
& Port Authority Trans Hudson

Tokens, Tickets & Passes
1/27/2024 1/27/2024 6/2/2023

Pricing and the NYC Transit Ephemera Market:


Special Thanks


Collectors of NYC Area
Transportation Exonumia & Ephemera:

Facebook Group

Website Dedication

About Your Authors

Bibliography & References



   Hello and Welcome! 

   You have found the most detailed and informative compilation of information regarding the fiscal issues and fare control (tickets, tokens, transfers, passes, zone checks, ticket choppers, turnstiles and fare boxes) of transit companies located in New York City. At the current time, we refrain from from digital / electronic methods of payment such as MetroCard and Omny payment systems.

   The history of public transportation in the City of New York has been very well documented in many books, blogs, government reports and newspaper articles. Therefore it shall not be our intent to rehash the general history of the construction of the subway. Also, there are many fine authoritative publications and websites that pertain to very specific topics such as: the railroad rolling stock (trolleys, elevated and subway cars) used throughout the decades; station design; sign development; tile color coding, artwork and frescoes; development of the transit maps; etcetera. 

   In stark contrast; very little had been published about the many fiscal issues – tickets and transfers – that were sold or issued to passengers. So, in recognition of "what was already out there" and what wasn't; this website shall focus on the fare aspects of these transportation companies.

   For the early era of operations (1890's to 1953), it is all too commonly thought that passengers simply dropped a nickel into a turnstile and entered the system. But that is not exactly the case. In the very first days, long before turnstiles were invented; and before the subway was built and opened in 1904; there were tickets that needed to be purchased first and they cost ten cents not a nickel. 

   As we will see; there were many more facets to the fare payment process to access the New York City subway and surface systems, past and present; and unfortunately they have remained mostly overlooked until now. So, in this website, we will endeavor to not only refer to the subways and elevateds, but surface transportation methods as well; from the earliest horse-drawn stages and omnibuses, as well as electric trolleys, streetcars to internal combustion powered buses.

   Also, many casual New York City Transit history buffs are aware of the original 5 cent "nickel" fare and are under the belief it was universal throughout the city and on all modes of the system. What has been published almost always pertains to the subways and elevated fare, but streetcar and bus fares are hardly mentioned and transfer privileges, if at all; and less so of the private bus franchises.

   For the later era of operations (1953 to present), while many people remember the tokens, quite a bit of misinformation abounds regarding some issues; such as which token was the first, when designs were issued (not always in conjunction with a fare raise), etc. In addition to which, there were several special fares for extra services offered both on subway service as well as on surface routes throughout the years. Furthermore, there are misconceptions and misinformation regarding other fare related items as well. 

   Equally as unfortunate and in this day and age of social media, this misinformation gets copied, pasted and shared with no regard to its actual veracity. Fallacies and falsehoods are accepted as fact, which is the bane of established historians everywhere. Accuracy and precision make for good historians - not egregious exaggeration and embellishment.

   We are not here to pass judgment or criticize those who have made their errors in an innocent way, but our goal is to make sure the misinformation is amended and the correct information made readily available to the general public - at least to those willing to check and accept the veracity of said posted information. 

   Sadly, even the Transit Museum social media website has been observed lately to post inaccurate information. To the point I have felt the need to create a new chapter to address the matter and to point out corrections in one location. It is hoped that this research and this website will set the record straight and correct those misconceptions and inaccuracies.

   Some of these examples of erroneous or overlooked information are:

   There are of course, many other examples.

   Furthermore, this website is offered as a collaborative effort between George Cuhaj and Philip Goldstein. We know it is not complete but consider it a starting point for documenting fiscal issues of the land transportation services offered in NYC. It is a companion website to Goldstein’s other "New York Centric" transportation related websites.

   It is emphasized and not expected that this catalog will never be truly "finished" or "complete". There will always be "one more thing" we have not seen and needs to be added; so bookmark the page and feel free to check back often. Page revision dates are listed either under the chapter link in the index above. It is our intention, to have this catalog become a usable reference and price guide for the active collector (more about this in another chapter below).

   Inasmuch as we will discuss the various methods and types of fare collection, we will also cover the various types of fare collection mechanisms through the history of most of the transportation providers within the City of New York, from the very first stagecoach - up to, but not including the MetroCard.

   Nor will we debate the political ambitions of mayors, governors, union leaders and their influences or ramifications thereof on the operation of the transit system. Only where a particular person was directly involved with a fare or situation, will we go into detail.

   Generalized historical information will be kept on this page, as sort of a "primer" if you will. Specific details regarding individual issues and their usage histories, as well as technical information pertaining to those individual items will be found on the respective pages of those items. There will of course, be some redundancy.

   Technical data is listed (when known) in the following manner:
    While in most cases, the backs of tickets are shown for reference if so printed; therefore if the back of paper ephemera is not shown, it was most likely unprinted, presently hinged in an album, or damaged in those cases of those items that were removed from their mountings..  

    In developing this website catalog, there three different eras of use regarding transit operations in the City of New York:

pre-First Unification many private companies 1820's through 1940
First Unification Board of Transportation - The New York City Transit System 1940 through 1953
Second Unification New York City Transit Authority 1953 to the present

   Please note: The coverage of this website currently stops at the point in time in which the MetroCard system replaced most of these printed fiscal issues.


YES! Contributions are welcome!

   If you don't see it on one of the pages of this compilation, we want to know about it!

   If you wish to offer an item (or items) for inclusion, you are invited to email us using the contact information at the end of this introduction. Whether you have one piece or many, a ticket, token, transfer or pass or any other fiscal item that you do not see already on any of the pages in this website, you are cordially invited to share them here.

   Your submission(s) will be watermarked with your name and your name listed in the special thanks chapter below. 

   Please feel free to contact me regarding errors, broken links, missing images, corrections, or for any other reason at:

Methods of Fare Collection

   Public transportation in New York City first became organized with franchises being granted to those companies operating ferries which crossed the East and Hudson Rivers, and then conjunctively with those horse car routes connecting to those ferry operations. Tokens were issued upon payment for transfer to connecting lines.

   Tickets then became used by the early street traction, elevated and subway companies; and some will be surprised to learn that tickets remained to be used concurrent with tokens, as well as transfers.

   As time marched on and technology progressed; we watched horse drawn modes of conveyance on the surface routes give way to electrically powered equipment and then to internal combustion powered vehicles. For the elevated lines, steam operation yielded to electric power. The subways started off as powered by electricity and have remained so.

   For those unknowing; elevated and subway operations are considered rapid transit, whereas horse drawn stage, horse drawn omnibus; electric trolley & street car; and internal combustion bus
are considered surface transit.

Cardboard Tickets for Horsedrawn Stage & Streetcar fare payment and transfer
   Some of the early transportation companies used cardboard "chits" (tickets) instead of metallic tokens as either initial tickets or as transfers to connecting lines. These types of tickets were predominately used in the early era of operations (1830's to 1930's). Some were used in conjunction with the early transfer token issues.
They would be collected and reused many times, only being replaced when worn out & illegible, becoming lost, or not returned by the passenger.

   Following some very in-depth research into very early issues of the New York Times (then known as the New York Daily Times); I was able to ascertain some fares of the stage lines which may be read here - "Where it all began"

   They were collected by the stage driver or conductor upon boarding by the passenger. At the end of the day, they were counted, entered into a ledger; then used the next day all over again.

   Printed tickets are an economical price point for manufacture. Job printers abounded in New York City at the time and re-orders were available easily.

   Eventually with printing developments, tickets were able to be sold in strips, bound into booklets and sold at various fare rates.
However, the survivability of small card chits is small in comparison to brass or pewter tokens, so there is a general misconception of popularity in the use of either.

   There is something else that bears noting, when discussing tickets and transportation methods of this era; and that being the coinage in circulation during the time span when the first stages and horse drawn trolleys were operating. These coins would not be recognized by 99% of the modern population, with many of the denominations are no longer in circulation and the cent piece was larger than a quarter! These coin issues are historically important in their own right, and are shown here actual size:
  • Half cent coins. Plain and simple; good old fashioned inflation reduced the need for this coin. Discontinued as result of 1857 US Coin Act.
  • One cent pieces or "pennies", were huge: 29 millimeters - just a smidge larger that todays dollar coins and a bit smaller than the current half dollar. Cents were resized to the current 19mm in 1857 as a result of the 1857 US Coin act as well.
  • There were also two cent pieces in circulation, with a big shield on front and wreath on back. Last year of production of two cent pieces was 1873.
  • The three cent piece was also in circulation, with a six pointed star and Roman numeral III in the letter C on the back. Last year of production of three cent pieces was also 1873.
  • Before the nickel entered circulation, you had the half dime, which was worth five cents. Last year of production of half dimes was also 1873.
  • The nickel was introduced in 1866 to replace the half dime, but both circulated concurrently. The nickel had a shield of front and a numeral 5, or later a Roman V (for 5); on the back of them. 
  • Dimes and half dimes had Lady Liberty in a seated position. 
  • Not a single coin here had a deceased US President or any other notable American person on them. Most had some allegorical (representative) form of "Lady Liberty" on them.
   Each and every coin shown was in circulation in the mid to late 1800's; some more popular than others. But they were all legal tender; and these coins were all used at one point or or another to pay for a ticket or directly for a fare on stage lines and the first trolley lines. In most cases; a stage driver, conductor or change booth clerk (as well as merchants) were ready to accept them for payment and give them in return as change.

   And to think people of today dislike getting pennies in change - can you imagine back then, getting half pennies and big honkin' pennies and two cent pieces in return for a dime? But back then, no one threw half cents away like people do with pennies today.

   And now, back to our regularly scheduled transportation topics.

Cardboard Tickets for Rapid Transit (Subway & Elevated) and Surface Lines
. .  

   "Back in the day" passengers purchased their tickets from the change booth (what we have come to currently call the token booth) prior to boarding the train. And it was NOT always a nickel.

   It is not well remembered now, but in the early days of operation from 1879 to November 1, 1886, the Manhattan Railway charged the rather exorbitant sum of 10 cents per ticket.

   As we read as described in detail contained in the Proceeding of the American Society of Civil Engineers, August 1917 article at right, is the following information.

   It clearly states that the lower fare of 5 cents was charged on "commission trains", which operated in the morning and evening rush hour periods. This is the reverse of how present day commuter train fare schedules are set (as well as other transportation methods), with higher prices charged during peak travel times (the morning and evening rush hour periods, Monday through Friday).
In effect, this fare schedule could be construed as "reverse congestion pricing", with higher fares being charged during off peak travel times to make up for the lower patronage.

   We also see as a result of this article, the method of ticket collection was changed from conductors taking up tickets aboard the train, which was abolished on January 20, 1879. 
The reason for this was, at times of large crowds - especially during rush hours; the conductor may not have gotten to taking your ticket before you disembarked at your station; allowing you to ride for free and using your ticket on another date.

   So, the collection of tickets now required passengers to deposit their tickets into ticket boxes upon exiting the train at the exit gates. With this method, it also caused congestion when trains discharged the passengers in one short time span.
So, on June 21, 1880; the method of ticket collection would change yet again.

   Passengers now had to deposit their tickets into chopper boxes prior to boarding the trains; and it is this method of ticket collection that would gain widespread use for other rapid transit companies in the Cities of New York, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens as well.

   This method worked the best, considering people arriving to purchase their tickets and hand them to the gateman were for the most part spread out over time. Granted, you can still get a crush of people, but the groups were smaller than on discharge of a train arriving in a station.
..  .
Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers, August 1917

   Only on November 1, 1886; would the elevated fare would be reduced to 5 cents "around the clock" and to match other lines, and it is on this date in 1886 - not 1904 with the opening of the IRT subway - that rapid transit operations in New York City first saw the full time "nickel fare".

   After purchasing their ticket(s) a patron would proceed to the gate which divided the "open area" or public spaces from the "fare controlled area" which was the stairs that led to the subway or elevated platforms. Here, at an opening in this gate, a collector or "gateman" stood next to a glass and wood box on a pedestal, called a "chopper box".  

   The passenger would hand the ticket to the gateman, who would place the ticket into the top of the "ticket chopper", and actuated the handle that in turn chopped the ticket, preventing reuse.
This action finally granted you access to the "controlled area", also known as the platforms of the subway and elevateds, or main terminals of the surface cars.

Columbus Circle Station; showing change / ticket booth; and gate separating "unpaid" area (and stairs to the street)
and "paid" side (subway platform) areas. This image was taken upon completion of construction and the chopper box not yet installed.
Gateman with chopper box.
Note the second chopper box covered by canvas and not in use.

   The glass inspection box facilitated the inspection of the front or backs of the tickets to check their validity as they were dropped into. Without fail, s
omeone, somewhere; was guaranteed to try and gyp the system and get a free ride - whether it be counterfeit tickets or slugs in the turnstiles.

Gateman with chopper box.
image courtesy of New York Transit Museum
Ticket Chopper Box at IRT Wall Street Station
image courtesy of ephemeralnewyork
Deposit slot, glass viewing box and "funnel"
image courtesy of New York Transit Museum
Chopping mechanism (slightly damaged)
and removed from wood cabinet.
image courtesy of New York Transit Museum

   The glass box on top had a glass plate v-shaped funnel at the bottom (not shown in the patent drawings) which directed the tickets into the chopper box. Here a set of interlaced metal teeth resembling combs are mounted. Connecting to these teeth combs, there was a shaft that connected through the side of the case to the outside. Much like the purpose of a modern paper shredder; only the chopper boxes were manually operated. The tickets were chopped to prevent reuse and the shredded tickets contained in a hopper in the bottom portion of the chopper box pedestal. 

  The ticket choppers on display at the New York City Transit Museum were patented in 1894 by George Matteson: Ticket Mutilator -  Patent US517053;
and were manufactured by the Ingersoll-Sergeant Company. Ingersoll-Sergeant was the predecessor to Ingersoll-Rand and prior to the merger on 1906. Ingersoll-Sergeant made tunneling equipment, rock drills, and other mining equipment that would come to be used on the construction of the subway tunnels.

   But, research has also revealed that other models of ticket choppers predate this model; with ticket chopper designs dating back to the 1870's. As such, other types and manufacturers of ticket choppers would have been used by other transportation companies before the models that are currently on display in the New York Transit Museum.

   The diagram shown here is from "Proceedings of the American Electric Railway Engineering Association", October 1923; from filings submitted to them by the Interborough Rapid Transit and Brooklyn Rapid Transit (to become Brooklyn Manhattan Transit or BMT) and shows the placement of the ticket chopper at a basic low traffic station. Those stations at junctions, major street locations (i.e. Times Square) and end terminals would be equipped with multiple gates and chopper boxes so as not to hinder the flow of passengers waiting to enter.

   Also, at this point in time the Independent Subway System did not exist yet so it is not shown.

   Considering the vastness of the subway system, it would be some time until turnstiles could be installed in all the stations - subway AND elevated; and there were a lot more elevated stations then, than there are now.

   It would not be until 1928 that turnstiles were finally deployed in all the stations of
the subway and elevated lines throughout New York City, and of which eliminated the last of the gatemen.

   Some g
atemen moved into other employment positions or retired, and the ticket chopper boxes were removed and forgotten about. Or were they?!?!

One (or even two) last Hurrahs for the Chopper Box!

   Recently discovered in the New York Times issue dated July 2, 1948, and in the multi-page coverage regarding the fare raise to 10 cents the day before; is a photo of a Transit Employee with a chopper box placed next to a portable turnstile (Perey Model 48) accepting the new small format combination (surface to rapid) tickets at the Fordham Road Station in the Bronx! The caption reads, "The old ticket chopper" came back into service at the Fordham Road Station of the Independent Line to collect the transfers."

   The intersecting surface lines for the Fordham Station would have been the Surface Transportation Corp. Bx12 and Bx19 routes and ticket deposited would have been almost identical to the one shown at left; Friday July 2, would have been gray ticket like shown, but with a number "2".

   Anecdotal recollection of a member in the Facebook group for the Transit Museum recalls a chopper box being used in the 1960's to collect the inter-divisional continuing ride transfers from the Fulton IND Line in the BMT Franklin Avenue Shuttle station.

   Chopper boxes were even used as late as June 30, 1980 albeit as a simple receptacle to help accept old tokens and a dime for the June 28, 1980 fare hike (and new token release), as seen in the New York Times article at right.

   And, we have seen in an image; a "de-armed" chopper box next to the mid-platform booth on the 
northbound platform of the Howard Beach / JFK Airport station.

   One has to now wonder, if a good portion of these chopper boxes remain stored in some MTA / NYCTA facility for "emergency use". They are very rarely encountered (if at all) for sale; and this rarity (if one reflects upon it) leads one to think they have not been surplussed and scrapped, despite their nostalgic memories.

   Fareboxes from buses are very prolific; as are roll sign mechanisms, station signage, seats, fans, and motorman's controllers from old subway cars, track signals, as well as other large bulky station furniture and memorabilia from the Transit Authority. So why haven't we seen
chopper boxes?

    At the least, I would like to think there are a few hundred of them, sitting in a dusty warehouse in a storage room under one of the East River bridge approaches; or perhaps individually in station storage closets waiting to come to light! In conclusion; tickets were light, easily handled and remained an economical means of fare control.

after 1953, when fares rose above 10 cents and prevented the use of a single coin for turnstile operation, and tokens were now purchased from the clerk to gain access to the transit system; the fare ticket never really died - it would go on to be used for special fares and limited access uses as for senior citizens, the physically challenged, pupils, or other special cases or events.

   These later era tickets are categorized on the following page:

Page 1 - Fare Tickets

Tokens as Transfers for Stage, Omnibus, Trolley Car & Bus Lines

   While most consider the NYCTA "dime sized" Y token in 1953 to be the "first" tokens for transit, they were not.

   The "Y" tokens
may have been the first tokens issued for use by the NYCTA, but:
  • they were not the first token to be used for transportation in New York City and;
  • not the first token used in New York City subways.
   Many companies prior to the existence of the NYCTA issued tokens to be used as both transfer checks, and for initial fare payment.

   It is a matter of semantics.

   The Board of Transportation (
the predecessor to the Transit Authority) issued tokens for use by passengers to account for the collection of transfers on a streetcar or bus; prior to the 1953 tokens of the NYCTA; and tokens were used dating back to the early 1830's, were used in this fashion by the individual traction / transit companies. It is these tokens that are all too often overlooked. And these early issues were manually issued and collected by stage drivers or conductors.

   The New York and Harlem Railroad was the first streetcar company in New York City to have utilized tokens, and they issued one token design with several counter-stamps in 1831. No documentation has been uncovered yet to determine the meaning of the counter-stamp varieties (distance traveled? fare discount? route?)

   In the earliest of use, tokens could be either a metal of soft to medium hardness that can easily be struck, such as: pewter, copper, brass or German silver; or a hardened rubber compound also known as "Vulcanite" which could be manufactured in different colors.

   In contrast to the printing of tickets which was relatively easier to produce; to issue a metal token; a specialty manufacturer is needed to create a design by engraving onto metal dies, and punch blanks and then strike them with the dies. This was a huge up-front cost which many 19th century firms were not willing to bear. Especially so, when a transportation company would change names, merge or split from other lines, thereby changing the name on the token. In some cases former partners were scratched off tokens as we will see on Page 2 of this website.

   However, once a company invested in the manufacture of a token, fare increases could be handled by plating an old issue rather than minting a new one. The potential for reuse is tremendous. Furthermore, obsolete tokens, if not to be reused could be sold for scrap metal value, recouping some of the financial outlay.

   These early transportation tokens are also often seen pierced with a random hole. It is misconceived that someone punched a hole in the token to wear on a necklace as a charm or novelty.

   In reality, these tokens were punched or drilled by the horse car / omnibus / trolley companies, so a conductor could carry many tokens conveniently and efficiently on a metal ring made of a springy metal to distribute or collect from passengers as needed, as shown in the drawing at right.

   If the conductor was not actually carrying the ring of tokens in his jacket pocket or on a suspender belt; they could also be hung on a peg near the door to the stage, horse car or trolley.

   Later tokens were issued in exchange for transfers where turnstiles were installed upon the newest street cars and first internal combustion bus era.

Page 2 - Early Tokens - 1827 - 1940
Page 2 - First Unification: Board of Transportation / NYCTS - City Wide Issues - 1940 - 1953

Coins and Tokens as General Fare Media in the Subway & Elevateds - The Automatic Turnstile
   Some transportation companies opted to use tokens not as a reusable transfer device; but as a primary admission method via an automatic turnstile. When first introduced, it was known as an "automatic passimeter".

   Manually operated passimeters, actuated by the clerk; pre-existed the automatic type. These manually operated passimeters will be discussed a little later. The automatic passimeter became better known as the turnstile.

   US Government / Mint issued coins, and later on tokens
that were accepted in turnstile applications; were always of metal composition. We will explain why, a tad later in this chapter.

   The first mechanical turnstile for the New York City subways and elevateds was not deployed until May 1921, and after being filed for a patent that same year, by Mssrs. Frank S. Hedley of Yonkers and James S. Doyle of Mount Vernon, NY.

   If these names happen to sound vaguely familiar, perhaps that is because Frank S. Hedley was the President and General Manager, and James S. Doyle was Superintendent for the Mechanical Department, of the
Interborough Rapid Transit Company.

   Side note: it should be recognized that there were other patents issued for other designs of coin operated turnstiles prior to this one; but as this is the type installed in the subways, therefore it is this model we will be focused upon.  

   Considering the vastness of the transit system, it would take some time until turnstiles could be installed in all the stations - both subway AND elevated; and there were a lot more elevated stations then, than there are now.

    This first turnstile was installed at the Lexington Avenue and 51st Street station. It would not be until 1928 however, that turnstiles were finally deployed in all the stations of
the subway and elevated lines throughout New York City, and of which eliminated the last of the regularly assigned gatemen.

   Subsequent improvements and modifications to the design of the turnstile would take place over the next decade, but the basic premise was this:

   A slot on the top of the turnstile would directly accept a single coin or a token.
Reliable operation of a mechanical turnstile relied on four different (or a combination thereof) "discriminatory" factors. For the acceptance of proper coins and / or tokens for payment of fare, these were:
  • size (diameter) of the coin / token, 
  • thickness of the coin / token
  • magnetic properties (or lack of) of the coin / token,
    and if so configured, 
  • weight of the coin / token.

   At the time of being deposited, the coin or token is placed into a sized slot. Objects too large (whether in diameter or thickness) would not fit into the slot (i.e.: a quarter into a nickel, penny or dime slot; penny or nickel into a dime slot); whereas coins / tokens that were too small (i.e.: a dime or penny instead of a nickel) fell straight through to the reject / coin return slot.

   In applications where non-magnetic tokens are being accepted, a magnet attracted magnetic objects and directed the object to the reject slot, whereas non-magnetic coins / tokens fell straight through into the acceptance channel. This was not an issue with coin usage, as all US coins are non-magnetic. In those circumstances where steel tokens were used as fare media, the magnet attracted the token into the acceptance channel, letting non-magnetic tokens, coins or slugs fall straight through to the reject slot.

After meeting the above two criteria, the coin or token now rested on upon a balanced lever calibrated to the precise weight of that particular coin or token. If the coin or token was too heavy, it depressed the lever and was directed through to the reject channel. Too light, and the lever would not depress, also redirecting the bad token / coin / slug to the reject channel.

   Now for the reason why tokens were metal: once the proper coin or token was in the acceptance position on the lever, this in turn completed an electrical circuit (55, 57, 58 in the patent drawing below left) which in turn energized a solenoid which then released
the pawl mechanism holding the turnstile paddles thereby allowing them to be moved, as well as releasing the balancing lever, allowing the coin to drop into the coin receptacle box.

   Any foreign coin, a coin of different value, a slug or any other object not of the accepted size (diameter or thickness), magnetic property or weight would be rejected, fall through to the return slot, and the turnstile would stay locked. Because the locking ratchet pawl only locked the turnstile one way, passengers exiting could simply push through from the fare controlled side to the public side, while those traveling from the public side to the fare controlled side would find the turnstile locked.

   Furthermore, some models of turnstile that were mounted on the side of token booths, were also were equipped with a foot lever projecting into the booth, so a clerk could manually release the turnstile for members of the police or fire departments, transit employees, or other pass holders such as students. Research has shown, that these particular type of turnstiles are known as a "passimeter", while the stand alone coin / token operated types were noted as a turnstile. In modern day operations, no difference is specified between types and all are called turnstiles.

The complete Patent Filing above can be viewed here: Turnstile Patent 1921 US1578660.pdf

Electric Railway Journal - November 26, 1921

   With the introduction of turnstiles, the fare control areas changed. Not to mention, each of the rapid transit companies at that time (IRT and BRT) had their own philosophies on fare control area design. Of course, the actual physical attributes of the station location dictated some of the layout characteristics, but for the most part, the fare control area layout was standardized to a degree.

   All diagrams shown here are from "Proceedings of the American Electric Railway Engineering Association", October 1923; from diagrams submitted to them by the Interborough Rapid Transit and Brooklyn Rapid Transit (to become Brooklyn Manhattan Transit or BMT). Also, at this point in time the Independent Subway System did not exist yet, so it is not shown. In the diagrams below, the turnstiles are called "passimeters".

   This first diagram reflects the arrangement for fare control areas in IRT stations utilizing side platforms. This arrangement would be used for local service only stations.

   In comparison to the IRT arrangement, here is the BRT layout for a similar side platform stations for local only service as well.

   This next diagram reflects the arrangement for mezzanine fare control areas. While the diagram shown represents an elevated line local service arrangement, the arrangement could be modified and used at elevated stations with local and express service as well as subway stations offering both local and express service, with the platforms and staircases leading to island platforms between the local and express tracks, instead of the platforms to the outside of the local tracks as shown

   Note that one end of the mezzanine contains the high entrance / exit turnstiles (HEET) to allow off hours automatic entrance

   This next diagram is unattributed to a particular user, but would be a variant for side platform station:

   Returning to the discussion of the turnstiles, one thorn remained in the side of their usage however: the IRT used electrically operated turnstiles. The BMT, and later the IND used mechanically operated turnstiles. This factor would come to haunt the NYCTA when it decided to place the token into use in 1953.

Last nickel: Ms. Carmen Gherdel - July 1, 1948
IRT Times Square Station
image courtesy of the New York Times Digital Archives
First dime: Ms. Esther Pollack - July 1, 1948 IRT Times Square Station
image courtesy of the New York Times Digital Archives
First 15 cent token: Ms. Judy Reed - July 25, 1953
IRT Times Square Station
image courtesy of the New York Times Digital Archives

   Lapse forward to 1953,
when the New York City Transit System found itself in need to raise the fare to 15 cents. Turnstile mechanisms of that day could not yet be manufactured to distinguish varying and multiple coin sizes in such a small confined space and do so reliably. We all know coin operated token dispensers and vending machines for various products could take two or more coins and dispensed the item with the turn of a knob. So why not apply that to turnstiles?

   The 15 cent fare now meant coin combinations of three nickels or a dime and nickel. Furthermore, the mechanisms could not make change for a quarter. A multiple coin turnstile would have opened the door to patrons placing coins in the wrong slots, and still required most patrons to go to the token booth and get change beforehand.

   Hence the reason why the NYCTA introduced tokens as a fare payment method.



Models of Turnstiles

   Before progressing further - it should be noted that different models of turnstiles, both newer and older models; could be found operated concurrently throughout the system. Note the turnstile coin drop in the 1948 and 1953 New York Times articles above: the same towered style coin drop is seen in both photos.

Manually operated booth side Passimeter 
   These types of turnstiles were manually activated by the change clerk inside the booth. They were not automatic and there was no coin operated mechanism to release them.

   The passimeter was mounted halfway through the side wall of the change booth, with a gate and turnstile arm projecting outside the wall of the change booth, and with the side with the foot lever and counter projected into the booth. Usually a shelf covered the arm inside the booth so the clerk was protected from walking into it and had more work area.

   When a passenger who was entitled to travel for free, the change clerk would depress the foot lever which in turn released the arms, allowing the person to now pass through to the revenue side of the station. This happened more than people realize: it could be another transit employee, a policeman, a student, a vending machine owner filling up the Chicklets / Beeman's dispenser, or perhaps an advertising man changing the posters from Burma Shave to Barbasol.

   Coin operated turnstiles were mounted to the outside of the passimeter lane.

   In the earliest days of fare revenue collection, the terminology in the trade journals was specific: these were passimeters. Automatic coin operated versions were known as turnstiles. As time progressed, the passimeters were lumped into the turnstile category; and as passimeter gave way to the "electric lock gate", so as the passimeters faded from use; terminology was no longer an issue.

left unit: IRT; right unit: BRT / BMT  

designed by IRT; manufactured by General Electric: the "Featherweight Pressure Gate" - 1922
fare: nickel 1921-1948; dime 1948-1953
   The first electro-mechanical turnstile for the New York City subways and elevateds was not deployed
until June 1921, and after being filed for a patent that same year, by Mssrs. Frank S. Hedley of Yonkers and James S. Doyle of Mount Vernon, NY.

   If these names happen to sound vaguely familiar, perhaps that is because Frank S. Hedley was the President and General Manager, and James S. Doyle was Superintendent for the Mechanical Department, of the
Interborough Rapid Transit Company.

   They were revolutionary for their time and even had a name: "Featherweight Pressure Gate"

   Other turnstiles mechanism were developed prior to this model, and required some serious pushing to get it to cycle. But this model was design specifically for high traffic rapid transit use, and it easy of turning made it well suited to the crush of thousands of passengers per hour.

   After the patent was granted and the demonstrator model successfully tried out in service, General Electric Company was contracted to manufacture them.

   It took until 1928 to install at least one of these turnstiles in each and every station on the IRT.

   There are images in the NYTM archives showing this model in service in the the 1950's!

better image requested

Perey Model 48 and 55 "Superstyle" - circa 1930's
fare: nickel 1921-1948; transfer tokens

   This model of turnstile was not used for rapid transit (subway / elevated) fare collection, but it was used by the surface transportation vehicles beginning around 1930; namely the newer model streetcars (Presidential Conference Committee Cars) and even some internal combustion powered bus models of that era as well.

Perey Model 48 on Brooklyn & Queens Transit PCC Car #1001

   This model of turnstile was utilized with both nickels and the "transfer tokens" issued by the surface operators in the 1930's and 1940's: Brooklyn Bus Corporation, Brooklyn & Queens Transit, Board of Transportation - Transit System - Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Division, etc.

Perey Model 55
   In this area of operation, the surface transfer system had a lot of variations. There were transfers that cost 2 cents, and some were free and some companies charged 3 cents for the transfer. Normally, with a fare box equipped vehicle; a passenger handed their paper transfer to the operator / driver and the passenger proceeded to the rear of the streetcar / bus to find a seat.

   The installation of this turnstile hindered that operation. As the turnstile was mounted in the aisle a few feet behind the driver and the passenger now had to pass through it to reach the seating portion of the vehicle - it was accessible only by the passenger. The passenger now needed some form of fare media to activate the turnstile to be able to pass through. Since the transfer had already been prepaid; depositing additional funds was not the answer as that would incur a double payment upon the passenger. The solution laid with the use of transfer tokens to overcome that turnstile obstacle.

   When a passenger desired a transfer to another line, it was requested at time of boarding of the first streetcar / bus. The two cent surcharge was paid directly to the operator on the first streetcar or bus, or if it was free; presented the passenger with the applicable paper transfer. When that passenger boarded the second streetcar or bus, they surrendered the paper transfer to the operator; and in turn the operator gave the passenger a transfer token to be deposited into the turnstile, permitting the passenger to proceed through to the back of the streetcar / bus. In no other terms, it was an added labor procedure that accomplished the same end result.

   In the case of free transfers, a token was issued just as well to pass through the turnstile; however, it appears very likely that the two different color tokens were used to denote the different fare structure: one for free transfers and the other for 2 cent transfers.

   Perhaps at some point, if the companies were steadfastly adamant about retaining the use of the turnstiles and not fareboxes; an electric release for the turnstile operated via push button by the operator would have sufficed, eliminating the need for the transfer tokens.

   Despite the initial outlay of producing the token issues, and the labor incurred in handling them; it was the fact that the turnstile took up too much space - its placement in the aisle between the first set of seats; was the ultimate factor against its continued use. Double seats now had to be replaced with single seats, and the seating capacity was reduced by at least four passengers. Or, during rush hour; thirty standing passengers packed in like sardines (just kidding!) - more like maybe ten standees. In either case, it reduced the carrying capacity of fare paying passengers.

   Detrimentally its position, in cases of short and sudden stops; standees would bang into it and / or even fall over it. More over, in a situation where passengers needed to get off the bus via the front doors, in case of emergency or when the rear exit doors were blocked by a crowd, the turnstile hindered this exit route.

   So, fareboxes remained king of revenue collections on the surface transit vehicles.

World's Fair Model - Double Fare - 1939
media: nickel (on exit from subway) and dime (on entrance to subway) 1939-1940
   Manufactured by Perey, (model number not known at this time).

   This type of turnstile; was used for double fare applications, specifically at the 1939-1940 World's Fair at Corona - Flushing Meadows Park.

   Double fares were collected at the World's Fair Station of 1939 - 1940 for passengers arriving to visit the location. An extra 5 cents was payable upon exit from the station, making the total fare 10 cents.

   Departing the World's Fair Station charged 10 cents. So in essence, this turnstile was dual fare, dual denomination.

   This extra fare was collected to help offset the cost of the temporary subway line extension to the Fair Grounds, which was built at a cost of approximately two million dollars. At the conclusion of the World's Fair, only $500,000 in fares had been collected to offset the cost leaving the Board of Transportation to absorb the remaining balance.

   A similar "exit payment" style of turnstile was used from 1956 through 1975 on the IND Rockaway Line south of Howard Beach, and of which also collected a double fare in the means of an extra token upon exit; and for the time span listed.

   It is not known at this time if this 1939 Worlds Fare Model Turnstile were repurposed for the Rockaway Double Fare Stations, or a different machine entirely was placed into use.

Perey Kompak Model 37 - 1939
media: nickel 1921-1948; possibly dime? 1948-1953

   A notable feature of the Model 37,
is this design was the first to featured a conical turnstile arm arrangement, with the hub mounted at a 45 degree angle to the ground. This allowing for a significantly smaller footprint for the machine on the platform floor.

   As a big bulky wooden arm no longer jutted out to the right of the machine and taking up space between turnstiles, another turnstile lane could be placed immediately to the right of this one.

   This saving of space allowed more turnstiles to be placed "en block" (several grouped together) and in a row, and hence increasing fare payment capacity for that location.

   This was especially beneficial in large stations, such as those at junction points or at terminals, that saw large amounts fare payment traffic.

   Simple, utilitarian, compact, easy to clean, easy to maintain. It became the workhorse of the transit system.

Perey Kompak Round-End Model 97 - 1946
media: nickel 1921-1948; dime 1948-1953, token: 1953 -

Designed by John Vassos, a renowned industrial designer; of whom was hired to design this new streamlined turnstile by Perey Manufacturing.

   Streamlining was en vogue, and Vassos applied the look to many items, including Nedick's food outlets, RCA household radios; and the first television and entertainment centers (TV - radio - turntable in cabinets).

   Mr. Vassos worked with other notable industrial designers of the time, including but not limited to: Henry Dreyfuss, Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes; but Mr. Vassos' name is not as well recognized as the others, as he refrained of opening his own firm.

his design featured the conical turnstile arm arrangement as well, which allowing for smaller foot print space.

   This conical arm arrangement has become the standard configuration for future turnstile models.

Perey Model 107 - 1950's
media: dime 1948-1953, token: 1953 -


   The next model in the evolution of conical arm turnstile.

   Design accents bear resemblance to the tail-fins and vertical taillights of 1950's automobiles.

   Its open bottom design under the turnstile arms facilitated better sweeping and mopping of the revenue area.

   Black. Chrome. Simple. Elegant.

Duncan Industries Model TC "Token - Coin" - 1978
media: two quarters or token 1978-1980(?)
   The first reported installation of this model of turnstile was February 1978 (not 1980, as the Transit Museum interpretive display states in the turnstile section)

   This model of turnstile was an attempt to collect both tokens and numerous coins within a single turnstile.
While the kinks had long since been worked out for a multiple coin mechanism in a turnstile; many New Yorkers had been so conditioned to the single token, they were placing the token or quarters in the first slot they saw, and this gave them a 33 percent chance of choosing the correct slot: 33% chance of coin in token slot - 33% chance of token in coin slot - 33% chance correct object in correct slot!

   As such, the design was not successful. But this model saw the incorporation of smooth stainless case panels for ease of cleaning and did not require painting.

   In any event, the acceptance of tokens and coins made this turnstile a dual fare media.

   But kudos to the NYCTA Revenue Department for the attempt!

Tomsed Turnstile Company Model 110 - 1983
media: token

   Not a great deal is known about this model, or its reason for installation.

   It could simply be a case of Tomsed being the lowest bidder for the contract.

   Tomsed is known to also manufactured the new stainless steel one way High Exit Gates. Perhaps a deal was reached where the NYCTA would take 5000 High Exit Gates, and 500 turnstiles on an approval basis, but this is unconfirmed.

   Brushed stainless steal case with minimal seams and smooth joints make for easier sanitizing, especially when the "token suckers" were at their height. Did not require painting and was better for keeping internal mechanisms free of dust and dirt.

   Tomsed was purchased by Boon Edam in 2005, a Dutch company that also specializes in gates, turnstiles and other revenue controlled access items.

   Research will be forthcoming.

 AFC Turnstile (Cubic) Automatic Revenue Collection Group - 1992
media: token or MetroCard
   This turnstile was released into public use initially as a token only machine in 1992

   However, its original design was fully intended to and was upgraded to include an electronic fare payment method such as the MetroCard, when said system rolled out at a later date, which was 1997.

   In taking tokens and MetroCard, made this turnstile dual fare media.

   These turnstiles were also designed to deter fare-evaders by turnstile jumping. The sloped top caps on left and right prevent a flat and level placement of hands, and the inverted U tubes and uprights towards the exit, limit the headroom and arm placement when hopping over. As always, the determined fare evader still found ways to circumvent paying their fare, but the instances were reduced.

   These are the last turnstiles to have been built with token acceptance in mind. Again, stainless was the material for the case.

   With the abolishment of token use in 2003; the token slots were capped and this machine became MetroCard Only.

   The machines are expected to have the internal MetroCard computer readers exchanged for Omny computers and RFID pads mounted on top by 2024.

High Entrance Exit Turnstile "HEET":  ca. 1945 - the "Iron Maiden"
media: nickel, dime or token
   left: American Turnstile 1931 - ca.1945
   Perey Manufacturing, unknown model number - ca. 1945

   These turnstiles were coin operated from 1945 to 1953 and then operated by tokens (only) after that date.

   These are used at low traffic egresses of stations, where token booths may have been part time, or a passageway where a change or token booth may have been impractical due to space restrictions.

   In another consideration for their use, was when budgetary shortfalls became common place within the transit system in the late 1960's through the 1980's; these High Entrance Exit Turnstiles could be installed, replacing a part time or full time change / token clerk position.

   right: unknown manufacturer ca. 1993

   This style have replaced the older "iron maidens" with 304 stainless steel tubular models beginning around 1993. These are cleaner, and of a more open design for those that may have claustrophobia; and prevent the hiding of a mugger or other criminal in the blind spots behind the sheet metal panel of the older style.

   These were able to take tokens, then token and MetroCard; and upon retirement of the token in 2003, MetroCard only. These will be adapted to take the new Omny touchless payment card. 

One Way High Exit Gate "HXT"
media: none
   This is called a High EXit Turnstile; but technically speaking, it is not a turnstile.

   It is a one way gate, as there was no method of payment to enter through the device from either direction.

   The design incorporates a one way ratcheting mechanism to prevent unpaid entry, but freewheels in the exit direction.

   Inclusion here is because its use often coincided with the High Entrance Exit Turnstile model above.

   As a kid, they could be fun to lock your little brother or sister in, by holding the bars from moving further once they were in the wedge shaped area where they could neither get in or get out; until a quick smack from your mother made you let them out.

   They remain significant hazards in cases of rapid evacuation, such as smoke conditions, fire, rapid flooding, derailments, acts of crime or terror attacks. But, as they are strictly mechanical, they work in loss of power conditions.

Turnstile technician performing maintenance on a Perey Kompak Round-End Model 97.
image courtesy of the New York Transit Museum image archives
Rail clerk Vera Turner's first duty at midnight was to empty the tokens from the turnstiles at the subway station at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue Station in Manhattan, NY - January 4, 1972
image courtesy of Newsday


The case for the token operated turnstile.

   When it comes to mass transit revenue collection, especially on the scale of the New York City system; a single coin rejection or jam at a turnstile would mean that that turnstile being occupied or out of service until it was operable again. Rectifying the issue could take anywhere from minutes (for a token clerk to come out from the booth and clear the mechanism, if there were no customers to be served) to hours or even a day or more, when a technician from the revenue department would come to exchange the jammed or faulty mechanism with an operable unit.

   Some people have asked, why couldn't US coinage (nickels, dimes, quarters, and such) be used as the standard medium for payment and eliminate the token?
While this sounds like a plausible enough suggestion, let us look at that inquiry a bit more in-depth.

   Naturally, the process for fare payment when it was a nickel or a dime was simple enough for a single coin. But, when fare hikes were approved to keep in line with rising costs of maintaining service, patrons would in no way tolerate a 150% jump in fare from 10 cents to 25 cents just so the transit system could keep a single coin fare. As it was, the fare increase in 1948 from 5 cents to 10 cents was a 100% increase and still constituted single coin use.
And we all know how that hike was met, by public and politicians alike - it is a extremely well covered topic by newspapers and transit enthusiast publications!

   As the fare would be expected to rise over the decades, so would have the need for more and more coins of different denominations and combinations to be deposited to activate a turnstile.
So fare increase increments were kept to 5 cents as long as feasible, but eventually as we have also come to see, those fare raises in nickel increments became insufficient to keep up with and cover the increased costs of operations. So the increment amounts of the fare hike were increased to 10 and 15 cents; to today, where a 25 cent raise in fare in just "normal". There was even a 50 cent hike in the transit fare back in 2013.

   This table below shows the combinations of both the most through the least amount of coins that would be required to activate the turnstile for that given fare amount. Bold text indicated single coin operations. Also, please note that "odd amount" bus fares of the 1953 through 1956 (7 cents and 13 cents) and where pennies were needed to pay the fare or make change are not shown as they did not incur turnstile operations.

5¢: 1 nickel
10¢: 2 nickels 1 dime
15¢ 3 nickels or 1 dime and 1 nickel
20¢: 4 nickels or 2 dimes
25¢   5 nickels or 2 dimes and 1 nickel or 1 quarter The NYCTA never collected a 25¢ cent fare - it went from 20¢ to 30¢.
30¢:  6 nickels or 3 dimes   or 1 quarter and 1 nickel
35¢:  7 nickels or 3 dimes and 1 nickel   or 1 quarter and 1 dime
50¢: 10 nickels or 5 dimes or 2 quarters or 1 half dollar as far as is known, the NYCTA did not accept half dollars in turnstiles or bus fare boxes,
only token booths accepted them for payment (with reluctance).
60¢:     12 nickels or 6 dimes or 2 quarters and 1 dime or 1 half dollar and 1 dime or 1 half dollar and 2 nickels
75¢: 15 nickels or 7 dimes and 1 nickel  or 3 quarters or 1 half dollar and 1 quarter or 1 half dollar and 2 dimes and 1 nickel or 1 half dollar and 3 nickels
90¢:  18 nickels or 9 dimes or 3 quarters and 1 dime and 1 nickel or 1 half dollar and 4 dimes or 1 half dollar and 8 nickels
$1.00: 20 nickels or 10 dimes or 4 quarters or 2 half dollars or 1 half dollar and 2 quarters or 1 dollar coin
$1.15: 23 nickels or 11 dimes and 1 nickel or 4 quarters, 1 dime and 1 nickel or 2 half dollars, 1 dime and 1 nickel or 1 dollar coin and 3 nickels or 1 dollar coin, 1 dime and 1 nickel
$1.25: 25 nickels or 12 dimes and 1 nickel or 5 quarters or 2 half dollar coins and 1 quarter or 1 dollar coin and 5 nickels  or 1 dollar coin and 1 quarter,
$1.50: 30 nickels or 15 dimes or 6 quarters or 3 half dollars or 1 dollar coin and 5 dimes or 10 nickels or 1 dollar coin and 2 quarters

   Now, despite the availability of the half dollar coins (Walking Liberty: 1916 - 1947; Franklin: 1948 - 1963; and Kennedy: 1963 to present) and Eisenhower dollar coins (introduced in 1971), they were not popular coins as a media of exchange or payment. These coins were considered too bulky and heavy in one's pockets. The Susan B. Anthony dollar, released in 1979, was also poorly received by US citizens for general circulation, not so much as due to weight as it was smaller than the Eisenhower dollar and smaller even than the Kennedy half dollar, but because its size and color was easily confused with the quarter; hence its derogatory name the "Carter Quarter". US citizens, especially the NYC transit patron; were steadfastly committed to the nickel, dime and quarter as means of fare payment.

   And keep this in mind - some passengers lived in areas under-served by rapid transit lines that required a bus ride on top of the subway / elevated trip. This meant paying double fare! So some poor sap might have to pay a fare twice just to get to work or go home each and every day. Now imagine carrying twice the amount of change (four trips).

   Visualize if you will, a subway patron attempting to place 30 nickels or 15 dimes into a turnstile while trying to catch their train pulling in? "Did I put in 9 dimes or 10?" "Oops - I dropped my change!!" "I put too many quarters in; Mr. Token Clerk, can you give me a refund? What do you mean no?!?!?"

   If this is not bad enough, picture this scenario but now during rush hour; with passengers attempting to place the correct quantity of coins into their respective differently sized slots on a turnstile with accuracy and quickly, while more and more people are lining up behind them, to use the turnstiles themselves, clamoring "Hey buddy! Move it will ya? - I gotta catch that train!" (This is New York - nobody is patient!)

   If any of you remember the old cigarette vending machines or cafeteria food vending machines where a customer stood there for what seemed like 20 minutes (while you waited your turn behind them) pumping change into the coin slot to make their purchase (ah, the days of the nickel or dime Horn & Hardart Automat), you will understand. In those cases, no one was really in too much of a rush.

   But in the hustle and bustle of mass transit
, with hundreds to thousands of people filtering through a single station at rush hour; each and every turnstile needed to be reliable, at the ready, and any potential for mechanical trouble kept to the barest of minimums.

   This is not to say, the NYCTA did not attempt to try coin operated turnstiles or other innovative ideas, even in later years. But these turnstiles failed for the exact reasons listed above and as stated in the article below:

   Rapid transit = rapid fare payment. So yes, in this hyper-fast paced world of fare collection on a mass transit system; the single token was the sane choice. Simple. Secure. Durable. Versatile. Reliable. Convenient. And cost effective for the issuing agencies.

   So it was realized, the single token was the quickest, most reliable method for fast, efficient payment of fares in a high traffic, quick paced, mass transit situation. Transit patrons would need to go to the token booth and slide multiple coins or bills through to the clerk who would exchange them for a token (or multiples of tokens for later use) and the turnstiles became token operated instead of coin operated. It was a simple matter of the old adage "KISS" or "Keep It Simple, Stupid". Accepting multiple denomination of coins at the turnstiles meant more coins to process which meant more complicated mechanisms. Using one token kept the mechanism simple and its reliability high.

   Furthermore, with subsequent fare hikes, the size or magnetic property of the token could be changed to prevent the hoarding of, and prevent the use of lower value tokens. Furthermore, it was a security measure as well: changing the size or properties of a token prevented older generations of slugs from being used via a new size token.

   To compare this to modern day turnstile operations, look at the delays that took place at the turnstiles when the MetroCard was first introduced. If you were not holding and swiping the card correctly, the turnstile would not read the MetroCard and release causing a back up of patrons waiting to pay, or with modern vending machines that repeated reject authentic dollar bills or reject good coinage.

   The odd thing is, payment of fare was done with multiples of coinage like above on the surface modes of transportation - but the driver had to watch the coins hitting the drop plate to verify the correct and full fare was paid. It worked here due to the slower nature of fare collection: one person at a time, steps up onto the bus, change at the ready to deposit into the fare box and the driver visually verifying the drop of coins before pressing the accepting lever.

   Not to mention security issues: no change in the size slot on the turnstiles could take place to deter prevent slug use with US coin usages; whereas in regard to tokens, the single token size could be changed to discourage and prevent the of using slugs.

   Another positive attribute to token use, is such that single coin operation lends itself very well to prepayment. A pack of ten tokens is significantly less cumbersome than say a roll of 40 or 50 coins of equal value to the tokens.

Page 2 - Second Unification: New York City Transit Authority - City Wide Issues - 1953 - 2003

Coins and Tokens for Streetcars & Buses


   Until 1969, the method of collecting fares on trolleys / streetcars and buses was a little different than on their rapid transit counterparts.

   When you boarded the trolley / streetcar, you either paid 
the conductor; or in growing cases of one man operation after 1930, you paid the motorman / operator / driver.

   But whomever was in charge of actually collecting fares, they would be able to make change as well. As such, they had a portable coin changer (an example of which can be scene at right), and of which was clipped to their waist band as can be seen in the photograph at below right. This coin changer was part of their regular duties and uniform "kit".

   Coin changers could have four, five, six or even more "barrels", the number of which depending on the denominations of coins that were accepted, and that needed to be given in change. Usual configurations were one for pennies, two for nickel
s, one for dimes, and one for quarters; or one penny, one nickel, one dime, one quarter and one token. Custom coin changers could be ordered if the conductor only needed to handle minimal types of coins: say, only nickels and tokens.

   Furthermore, if you required a transfer to a connecting line, you paid the extra fare (usually 1 or 2 cents) and were issued a specially marked token (as mentioned in the chapter above) 
which would be kept in one of the barrels of the coin changer or a cardboard ticket (mentioned in the chapter below).

   Tokens and these early cardboard tickets were not marked for date, so abuse of the transfer system by traveling on two separate dates was possible and growing more frequent.

   This abuse was curtailed in later era of operations around the turn of the Century. This is when dated paper ticket transfers began to be issued and mass produced for use on the intersecting lines (see paper transfers below).

   When the last models of streetcars made their entrance into the scene in the 1930's: the "PCC car" (or Presidents' Conference Committee Car
), the conductor's position became superfluous and all revenue handling was done by the operator.

   The motorman / operator now had to make change, issue transfers, as well as whatever other duties that were inherent to operating the trolley / streetcar, including but not limited to: changing the direction of the trolley pole at the end of a run, moving manually operated track switches (with a pry bar) so as to change route to a branch line off a main trunk line, cleaning rubbish, flipping the seats to face the traveling direction if so required, tallying the fares, giving directions, etc.

   Actually operating the streetcar or trolley itself on tracks was pretty straightforward: start, slow and stop, with no steering obviously.

Privately operated bus fare raised to 13 cents - January 5, 1954 through December 30, 1955
image courtesy of the New York City Transit Museum archives


Model D - Manual
   But with the advent of the internal combustion bus, bus stops were relocated to the curbside out of traffic lanes and now drivers had to steer the bus in and out of the stops as well as swerve in and out of traffic.

   When considering a bus driver had to collect fares, make change, issue transfers, collect transfers (and make sure they were valid on both date, time as from an appropriate connecting route), keep tallies of same; on the rare occasion assist a passenger in boarding or alighting from the bus, let alone actually driving the bus (especially in congested traffic), making change was a distraction that could be eliminated. Especially when a passenger realized last minute they needed change or a transfer for a connecting line and the bus was already moving towards the stop!  Driving and making change did not make for a good combination, but they did it.

Early fare boxes had a crank on the side that the driver had to rotate (like a coffee grinder) to sort and count the change which then dropped into the coin box below.

   In New York City, these were the Johnson Farebox, Manual D Model and can be seen at left (please note: this is the only the upper sorting and counting portion only; the coin box / pedestal is not seen in the photo

   Note that the Model D did not accept quarter dollars - only pennies, nickels, dimes and one size of token.

Model K25 (early version)
   The next farebox to be installed on NYCTA buses were Johnson Model K25 seen at right. These were simplified for operation with the lever instead of a crank to drop the coins.

   It also had a coin drawer for rejects or if the operator needed change to refill his manual coin changer. This model accepted: pennies; nickels, dimes, quarter dollars; as well as two sizes of tokens.

   This model too sat upon a floor mounted pedestal that was enclosed on three sides and acted as a storage cubby for the driver. 
   Keep in mind the NYCTA did accept pennies until at least 1955, as they were being used by bus drivers and trolley operators to make change for 2 cent, 6 cent and 7 cent continuing ride tickets, and the 13 cent bus fares.   

   Around 1966, a new problem surfaced - the armed robbery of bus drivers. Robbers were brandishing a knife or a firearm, and relieving the driver of his change maker and the change within the farebox. Remember, at this time, the driver had access to the change to replenish his change maker or to empty the farebox at the end of the route. When aggregated at the end of a shift, meant the fareboxes could hold a few hundred dollars.

   Until this point, the problem was isolated to perhaps two or three drivers getting robbed a year.
We shall discuss the details of Bus Change Maker & Farebox Robberies in greater detail in the Fare Crimes chapter below.

   Also by this point in time, the Johnson Farebox Company had been bought out by Keene.

   Keene kept the Johnson model numbers but substituted their name. Seen at left and right is the Keene Model K25 / K50.

   The Keene Model K50 is almost identical in outward appearance to the K25, with the added internal feature to accept half dollar coins. We definitely know the K25 were installed in NYCTA buses, but the K50 is unconfirmed.

   While the first version of the K25 had a open three sided pedestal (as seen in the above chapter at right), the second version of the K25 / K50 had totally enclosed pedestals and was now equipped with a double key locked coin vault drawer.

   The image at far left is the front of the newer K25 / K50 unit (facing the operator / driver). Note that the reject drawer has been eliminated, and a chrome slot for holding daily trip reports mounted on the pedestal.

   The image to the immediate left, is the back of the unit (facing the passengers) with the vault drawer in the open position, to show its placement and mounting.

   The vault drawer required two keys: one to unlock it and allow removal from pedestal, the other key to actually open the drawer lid.

   The first key, allowed personnel at the bus depot, aptly called a "vault puller"; to remove the drawer from the bus and bring to the count room, but not allow him to access the coins to prevent theft.

   A second key was kept in the count room, and it was this key that actually opened the drawer and allowed it to be emptied of coinage for sorting and counting.

   A further evolution of the Model K25/K50 was the K25M3; and were those units manufactured after 1979, which were now equipped to also accept the Susan B. Anthony dollar coins and of which we know the Transit Authority also accepted.

   This lockable vault drawer could hold more than the old built in coin reservoir and the drivers change maker.
K25 / K50 (second version)
(operators side
showing coin counters)
K25 / K50 (second version)
(passenger side -
showing vault drawer)

   On August 31, 1969, bus drivers were relieved of the responsibility of making change, and buses went to exact fare only.   

   But the criminal element adapted and now brought crowbars with them.

   So this led to another, even more secure; design of pedestal. The answer lay in doing away with the removable vault drawers altogether.

The Sealed Farebox

   They were removed from the pedestals; and coins now dropped into a sealed coin vault
mounted directly to the floor of the bus; and within the pedestal.

   This sealed coin vault was equipped with a bayonet type hose coupler on the side.

   The lug on the bayonet opened a latched door (215) allowing the coins to flow into the perforated "catch basin" (205).

   While the patent drawing at left shows both coins (70) and paper money (60); NYCTA buses did not accept paper currency, and the coin bin (210) took up the space alloted for paper currency (200).

   A vacuum powered coin collector and processor (22) was installed at bus depots throughout the city around 1971-1972. An advertisement for this system seen at above right.

   The patent filing date is September 29, 1971, with the patent being granted on October 22, 1974. The assignee for the patent is the Keene Corp.

   Upon pulling into the depot at the end of a run, a revenue collecting agent hooked up the end of the hose to the port on the farebox, and activated the vacuum.

   As the air rushed into the perforations to fill the vacuum, it provided pneumatic force to the coins flowing down and the vacuum drew the coins into the hose and into the collector unit for sorting and counting.

The vacuum unit was large, and it was quite powerful - it could evacuate the contents of the sealed fare box vault in 20 seconds or less. As the unit required electricity to operate the vacuum as well as contained electronics for sorting and accounting, it was not portable. This elaborate, stationary and very secure system made it difficult, practically impossible for robbery of the fareboxes, not to mention the bus depots had many personnel milling about instead of a single vulnerable person. This, finally solved the problem of farebox robberies.

   Returning to farebox models; several subsequent models of fareboxes came to be installed on NYCTA buses, that accepted the MetroCard, dollar bills, as well as printing out MetroCard bus transfers, and now the OMNY contactless card.

   Also, it should be noted that many of the private bus lines operating under franchises in the City of New York, such as: Fifth Avenue Coach, Surface Transit, Triboro Coach and Green Bus Lines to name but a few; had different fare boxes entirely - many were known to use the Grant Electrofarer, seen here:

Note the change maker at top left corner!

Page 2 - Second Unification: New York City Transit Authority - City Wide Issues - 1953 - 2003

Paper Transfers

.      .

   Several factors led to the creation and issuance of dated / time stamped disposable paper transfer. The first was the cost of the metallic token. Initial set up costs were more expensive than paper counterparts.

   Second, with the growing amount of abuse by passengers who would hold onto a transfer token for use on a later date and getting two rides for the price of one; and with the growth of franchise routes within New York expanding where some companies would honor a transfer and others would not, and with various companies beginning to merge into larger companies; a much more elaborate transfer was required. One where a list of locations of applicable transfer points were location, and where a date and a time could be listed. Tokens did not have the room for this data. But, a paper slip did. When printed on pulp paper, the most economical of manufactured paper types, they were priced just right for mass production and short term use and disposability.

   There were dozens of printers specializing in transfer printing, and many patents issued for their specific design: Pope, Stedman, Smith, Moran are just a few of those found on New York transfers. Printers were a proud lot and many tickets and transfers include the name of the printer. But even more importantly, a list of locations or intersecting line where the transfer was accepted at was most prominent followed by some method of time punch

   Some companies such as the New York & Brooklyn Bridge Railroad and the Interborough Rapid Transit Co. used different printers over time, but kept a very similar design. Some started with a nice intaglio engraved printed ticket and ended 25 years later with a muddy lithographic issue. If one is interested to collect by printer variety, this can be rewarding yet challenging. Some of these are highlighted in the ticket page.

   As the 20th Century marched on, the number of ticket and transfer printers slowly whittled down; either through attrition; merger or business closure. When companies change, the references for collections and archives often are destroyed, thus creating difficulties when trying to document what was actually made and when.

   Coinciding with the First Unification in 1940, Globe Ticket Co. became the predominant ticket printer for the New York City Transit System. As a "union shop", that designation was a criteria in the awarding of contracts from the Board of Transportation and subsequently the New York City Transit Authority. But visual evidence also shows Elliott Ticket Company, National Ticket and Southern Coupon as receiving ticket or transfer contracts.

   New York City Transit Authority had their own "in house" printing shop for service notice signs and small run items and it seems that some tickets were produced there as well.

   With the issuance of dated one time use paper tickets or transfers. Further development of the time transfer narrowed usage to AM and PM or even specifically to the hour.

Zone Checks - The Oddball of the Fare Collection Methods

also known as the "Pay Enter - Pay Leave" fare method

   Zone checks are to say the least known, least used and perhaps one of the most unusual facets of fare collection in New York City.

   The "fixed fare" also known as "Pay Enter" method were prevalent for almost all of the surface transit operations in New York City, including almost all of the private trolley operators, the Board of Transportation and later the Transit Authority operations afterwards. They did not use the zone system in their fare systems (with one or two notable exceptions) and as their systems were based on a universal one fare payable upon boarding the streetcars or bus.

   But several of the private streetcar and later bus operators located in Queens (and I think one in the Bronx as well) utilized another system: the "Pay Enter / Pay Leave" method. This method required the use of "Zone Checks".

   This system was efficient for average to low passenger traffic routes covering large distances. Zone checks were originally developed for use on long distance interurban trolley runs and naturally with trolleys being replaced by buses, their use was retained.

   As it would be duplicitous to run several trolleys buses along the same route, with one being assigned to short distance between Point A and Point B, a second for intermediate distances to Point A to Point C and a third from Point A to the remainder of the route to Point D. Furthermore, this would require additional operators as well.

   Furthermore, having individual trolleys or buses for each segment along the same route would require the inconvenience of a passenger having to transfer trolleys / buses in inclement weather and/or wait for a connecting trolley bus to arrive.

   Therefore, one long route was divided into multiple segments along a single route and each segment defined as an individual zone. The fare would based on an initial fare within one zone (intra-zone) AND the distance traveled to another zone (inter-zone). Each zone could have a single or multiple stops.

   But, to be able to tell which zone a passenger boarded at, required some form of accounting device. Enter the "Zone Check". 
Zone checks could be color coded tokens made of metal or plastic, and lettered or numbered. They could also be color coded cardboard chits of different sizes (to avoid confusion or mistake) or they can be plain black ink on paper tickets. Each operator preferred their own system; but in essence basically operated the same way. The operators in Queens seemed to have preferred the cardboard variety.

   The way the pay enter / pay leave system works is thus: the bus company charged increasing fares for multiple zones, and this is only an example. A company could charge varying rates per zone, and not necessarily in equal increments:

within each Zone (intra-zone) 10 cents
from Zone 1 to Zone 2 or Zone 2 to Zone 3 (inter-zone):  20 cents
from Zone 1 to Zone 3 (inter-zone):  30 cents
   When a passenger boarded the trolley or bus, they paid the base fare or the intra-zone fare: 10 cents. Some of these operators also issued their own base fare tokens, which could be used instead of US coinage and of which, could be offered in discount for certain pre-purchase quantities. The driver / operator then handed the passenger a zone check apropos to their boarding location;
for those boarding in Zone 1, they received a Zone 1 check; those boarding in Zone 2 were issued a Zone 2 check and obviously, those boarding in Zone 3, Zone 3 checks (and if there were more zones, a Zone Check representing their boarding zone). This is the "Pay Enter" portion of fare payment.

   As the trolley or bus proceeded along its route, and as passengers were
disembarking at their stops in each zone, the passenger returned their Zone Check to the operator who informed them of their remaining fare; and of which the passenger paid. This was the "Pay Leave" portion of their fare.

   For example: passenger 'A' boards at the start of the run in Jamaica which is in Zone 1, pays the 10 cent base fare so the driver hands them a Zone 1 Check. Passenger 'B' boards pays the 10 cents and that passenger is also handed a Zone 1 check. A few blocks later, passenger 'B' goes to get off the bus, hands the Zone 1 check back to the driver, and nothing more is owed as the passenger was aboard for only one zone of travel. A few miles later, the bus enters Zone 2. Passenger 'C' boards, and pays the 10 cents base fare. The bus driver gives the passenger a Zone 2 Check. Several miles later, the bus arrives in Zone 3. As the passenger 'C' gets off the bus, and hands back to the driver their Zone 2 Check, the driver / operator informs them they owe 10 cents more is due. Passenger 'A' returns the Zone 1 check back to the driver; who informs the passenger that 20 cents more is due.

   And obviously, the system will work with even more zones, if necessary.

   Ultimately, the driver collected the appropriate base fare (intra-zone) from the passengers upon boarding and then again (inter-zone) based on their distance upon their disembarking pursuant to the Zone Check issued when they boarded.

   It sounds more complicated than it is, but in actuality, it really was not.

   Furthermore, it is essential to note that most of the private bus operators operating in Queens fielded fleets of buses (also known as coaches); that were built without mid-body exit doors, as commonly seen on Board of Transportation, NYCTA and MaBSTOA buses.

   For some of the Queens operators, one set of doors at the front by the driver was sufficient for both entrance and exit; as seen in the image at right of a coach for Steinway Omnibus built by Mack Trucks in 1939.

   However, some companies would operate both types of buses (with and without mid-body doors); with buses equipped with center doors assigned to routes within single zones of operations.

   Zone checks could be found issued in token form (seen in both metal and plastic), as well as paper and cardboard issues. As far as is known, none of the Queens operators used zone check tokens, opting for paper or chipboard checks instead. But it is known the several Queens private bus lines used metallic tokens for both general fare payment, as well as tokens used as transfers.

   To date, only one known surface traction (trolley) company used a zoned fare system within the City of New York: that being the Manhattan & Queens Traction Corp. There might be others, but they have not come to light as yet.

   The M&QT operated a line encompassing from the Manhattan Terminal of the Queensboro Bridge, to the LIRR / Trolley Terminal, in Jamaica, Queens.
Zone 1 began at the Manhattan Terminal of the Queensboro Bridge, routed over the Queensboro Bridge, and along Queens Boulevard to Grand Street in Elmhurst. (This was changed in 1920) to Old Mill Road (and is now known as 63rd Road / Junction Boulevard) in Elmhurst.
Zone 2 began at Grand Avenue in Elmhurst; to the LIRR Jamaica Terminal on Sutphin Boulevard.

   M&QT fares prior to the Zoned System were 6 to 11 cents. When it requested of and was approved by the PSC to emplace a zoned fare system on November 1, 1923; the fare became 5 cents for Zone 1 travel, 5 cents for Zone 2 travel, and 3 cents for the Queensboro Bridge Local Line. The M&QT would recharter itself into the Manhattan & Queens Bus Corp, and operate the Q60 - Queens Boulevard bus line. In 1943, the company was bought out by Green Bus.

   Several of the private bus lines also issued Add-A-Ride supplemental fare tickets to be used in conjunction with the NYCTA's Add-A-Ride Tickets when introduced in 1975 as well.


The Best of Many Worlds



   As we now see, there is a place in fare control for tokens, tickets, transfers, zone checks, as well as coins and currency. Every revenue source needed to be documented to provide proper service and accounting, whether it be general admission or a special admittance.

   Tokens were extremely well suited for a general, heavy, repetitive use. Future issues, as well as older issues; could be stored for future use; as well as repurposed. And, when necessary, at the end of their service life, they could be sold for scrap for the base metal content. 

   Tokens for a limited application such as in exchange for transfers could be produced in much more limited numbers than say tokens to be used as a general widespread method of fare payment. When used in general fare applications, they were without any doubt; a significant initial investment and for the long term, and especially so in the scope of New York City where many millions of tokens were needed - later token orders were in quantities of 50 to 60 million tokens! Why so many?

   Granted, you had your single or two token users such as tourists and business visitors that were only in town for only a day or two; as well as
residents that did not travel frequently via mass transit, such as the elderly, the physically handicapped, or even an able bodied user that mostly commuted by automobile, and all of a sudden finds their vehicle in the shop

you also had to consider the regular commuter who would buy packs of tokens in multiples of 10, for coming work weeks. Four million people use the New York City subway on an average workday.  If only fifty percent of those regular commuter passengers purchased a single 10 pack, that was 20 million tokens not in circulation at any given moment. And a lot more than the fifty percent of regular commuters bought ten packs for convenience every week or two packs every two weeks.

   This figure does not include those tokens actually in circulation at that precise moment: those in the turnstiles, waiting to be sold at the token booths, (or where applicable) in stock at banks or major retailers for convenience sale; nor doe the amount account for those held in reserve by the NYCTA. Tokens held in reserve gradually replaced those accidentally or intentionally brought home by tourists as souvenirs; but also for the more prosaic reasons: being lost, eventually worn out (it might take a while, but tokens did reach a point of being so worn they became problematic) or damaged. Furthermore, tokens in reserve were used as a buffer in those times when a raise in fare was announced and passengers were hoarding tokens in the hope to save a few dollars.

   Tickets and transfers on the other hand, were very well suited for those applications only requiring a one time use, whether it be for a general continued trip such as a bus transfer or
for specific controlled access like a block ticket.

   Paper tickets and transfers were cheap to mass produce, customizable for use or location, carry a significant amount information pertaining to their use and redemption. Quality was not paramount, only legibility. Ink coverage could be inconsistent; they were printed on the most economical of pulp papers (a few exceptions outstanding), and not always cut squarely. Basic issues could be printed ahead of time (lacking the date, serial number or route number) and stored for short periods; however they were susceptible to absorbing moisture and could take on a musty odor.

   This detriment aside, they would be dated as needed by method
in the printing industry called "crashing". Multiple daters on a press would imprint the date onto the pre-printed transfer. While serial numbering would advance sequentially, the date stayed as set and both were usually printed at the same time in red ink.

   Depending on the day of the week, as little as five hundred to ten thousand transfers could be printed per route, per day (with weekends and holidays generally having a lower printing run than workdays) and depending on the passenger traffic: trunk route received more traffic than say a several block shuttle line to a cemetery.

   Once used, they were expected to be disposed of. Chopped upon presentation to the gateman, or in later eras; simply dumped in a landfill. Many a bus driver reused his brown paper lunch bag as a trash bag for transfers. When they got off the bus at the end of their shift - the bag wound up in the curbside trash receptacle. Only in recent years, were the transfers accumulated and disposed of in a recycling bin at the depot.

   All things being equal, both these fiscal issues and others; were necessary to providing transportation services on a large scale. The accurate collection and accounting of fare payment is as important to management as providing the transportation service itself.


250 Hudson Street to 370 Jay Street 

   The building at 250 Hudson Street was not owned by the Board of Transportation, but leased from the Federal Government. This location was the original headquarters of the Board of Transportation.

   The Board of Transportation occupied 10 floors of the 14 story building. It has been stated, the lofts at 250 Hudson Street were drafty, prone to water leaking in around the windows and it was also directly adjacent to Freeman Plaza / the entrance to the Holland Tunnel and was quite noisy and reeked of automobile / truck exhaust, and keep in mind this was before air conditioning!

   Therefore, a new centralized headquarters that was owned outright by the Board of Transportation; had been proposed beginning in 1938. It was intended from the very beginning to consolidate the operations of the IRT, BMT and IND Divisions under one roof. The criteria for the new location was, the property was to be owned by the City of New York; and for it to be close to subway lines.

   This included the central location of the Transit Authority board of directors and officials, police department, clerical staff; train dispatching center, radio communications center, among other departments; including the revenue counting room and vaults.

   Three locations were proposed: 15 Park Row in Manhattan, property located at Broadway & Houston Street in Manhattan, and at 370 Jay Street in Brooklyn.

   Ultimately, the Jay Street location in Brooklyn was chosen, and construction began in late 1948 and completed in 1951.

   The Board of Transportation had been planning to relocate for years, but contractual issues delayed the relocation. In 1951, the US Government ordered the Board of Transportation to vacate 250 Hudson Street, as the General Services Administration and the Navy needed the space. So, in a grand rush, the Board of Transportation relocated before the building as 370 Jay Street was completely finished. You can read this in detail in the March 31, 1951 New York Times article below.

   And it is here, in this this building and on the second floor; the holiest of holy areas in the NYCTA universe was created: the count rooms and vaults.

   Here, coins and currency were counted, wrapped, bundled and placed into rolling strong boxes. Millions of tokens stored in bags of 10,000 - new tokens to be rolled out when a raise in fare was to take place to prevent hoarding - or kept in storage when a token change was deemed unnecessary. Old token issues retained and stored for future use, or waiting to be scrapped for metal content.

   But most importantly, the accounting of revenue could take place for all divisions in one locations; as well at the secure storage of coins, currency, tokens, tickets, and other high value revenue items; which could be stored under the tightest of security; in that location.

The counting room and revenue transfer corridors from the subway tunnels were not secrets!

   Again, by reading the New York Times articles above, it was planned from the very beginning to have "money cars" brought to the basement of the new building, wherever it was decided that construction was to take place.

   So, as can be read from the following three New York Times articles beginning in 1938; it was NO SECRET the money room was to be located in this facility. It was was NO SECRET that subterranean tunnels were to connect the money room directly to the subway tunnels for direct revenue transfer. It was NO SECRET one of these doors opened directly to the IND Jay Street - Borough Hall Station.

   How these rumors of "secret" tunnels, vaults, railroad cars and other bits of history gets started, I have no idea. But it is quite frustrating to witness casual everyday people get duped into believing fallacies started by some johnny-come-lately blog for "clicks", "likes" and "shares"; and worse still when the Transit Museum calls it a "secret"

   Valery Legasov said it best: "Every lie we tell, incurs a debt to the truth." This author is here to collect the debt.

   What it was, was not open to the public or even non-revenue personnel. It was a highly restricted area; but a hardly secret. As you can see, the newspapers knew about it, non-revenue NYCTA personnel knew about it. Non-assigned Transit Police knew about it. Transit buffs knew about it.

   Just because one is not allowed to go in it, does not make it a secret. Just as we know now the combined revenue facility in Ridgewood, Queens - it is where all the revenue goes now. But its existence is not a secret.

Note the image above - it is looking out of the transfer tunnel for the Revenue Collection Train from the IND Jay Street Borough Hall Station. Some "secret."


   To collect these vast amounts of revenue, resulted in a very unique facet of the revenue collection operation; the “money train”. Again - as can be read articles above - it was intended from the beginning to have "money cars" collect the fare proceeds from stations. Money trains had already been tried on the IRT - it was only a matter of adding them and a receiving facility for BMT and IND lines as well.

   Considering an armored car (actually a truck) of the era was a smallish vehicle. The accompanying image is of armored cars of the City of New York - Department of Finance. Armored cars used by the Board of Transportation would have been similar and possible even the same.

   The armored cars seen in the image were built by International Motor Trucks, and were built right in Queens. Mack - International Truck had factories and assembly lines in  Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx. The armored trucks of the era were of limited capacity, in regards to the amount of protective agents and in regards to the amount cargo
in comparison to a subway car.

   As the predominate fare throughout this era of operations was by coin, this was naturally a heavy cargo. Perhaps heavier than one realizes: Over a billion fares were collected on the Transit System (rapid and surface lines) in 1950. The fare was a dime. This equates to 168,100,000 dimes.
That figure, divided by 365 days equals 460,547 dimes per day. That amount of dimes weighs 23,028 pounds or 11½ tons. If one is generous, the armored cars shown had a carrying capacity of 1 ton, maybe a ton and a half. There were about 600 stations (don't forget the now demolished elevateds!) spread out over 243 square miles in 4 boroughs. It hardly could have been efficient.
   Furthermore, road vehicles could easily be stopped at any point along its route. Rush hour congestion, broken traffic signals, a large fire, and number of reason could hold up the revenue collection.

   Of course the worst scenario was armed robbery. At any number of street corners, a group of armed robbers could be waiting to "knock off" and armored car. Block the street with a car or truck (à la the movie "Heat") and security was jeopardized - there was nowhere to go.

   Many armored car heists took place in this fashion. The nature of operating in the open was itself a security issue.

courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society archives

   On the opposite side of the token (pun intended); the elevateds and subways however, operated in isolation from access to / of the general public; except at stations every few blocks. So by nature of it operation, revenue collection by train was more secure and isolated from public access.

   If I remember what I was told correctly, the freight elevators connecting the basement corridors leading from the subway tunnels were constructed with only two stops: the subway level and the second floor of 370 Jay Street. There was no access at either the first floor or to higher floors in the building for these two elevators. This prevented the elevator car from stopping, or being stopped on the first floor or another floor above the second floor, where the strongboxes could be brought to the street or intended location accidentally, or intentionally in an attempt to steal them.

above: Automatic currency processor. The GPS 1000 high speed mixed currency counter and sorter can process 30 bills per second. This machine sorted denominations, counted, examined (for counterfeits).

The employee is extracting sorted banknotes from the machine and placing them into the acrylic stacking box to her right. Additional racks of stacking boxes are seen on the sloped table behind her.

center image: Manual counting and rubber banding of currency by denomination. Accounting of TransitCheks in rack closest to employee.

right most image: bundles of banded and wrapped currency being placed into large rolling strongboxes. The smaller rolling strongboxes in the background are the type that were carried aboard the Revenue Collection Train. The large strongbox being loaded by the employee, was for internal count room use. Note the various types of revenue in this strongbox: US currency of various denominations and Transit Checks (bottom left), also note the wrapping bottom right: NYCTA and LIRR. Coins and tokens (were counted and stored in another room.

All images:
MTA photographer Patrick Cashin on the final day of Money Room operations at 370 Jay Street in 2006. © 2006 - courtesy of the New York City Transit Authority

   Coins and currency that had been sorted, counted and packaged, were transfered from the vaults on the second floor of 370 Jay Street; down to the first floor loading bay at the cul-de-sac of Pearl Street, on the back side of the building.

   To get the outgoing revenue from the second floor to the loading dock, and hence to the banks via armored car, a different elevator that stopped on the first and second floors (and other than the direct one between the subway platforms and second floor) was used.

   Once at this loading dock, the coins and currency would be loaded into armored trucks and brought to and deposited at the respective financial institution(s) under contract with the NYCTA; and for the currency to re-enter and recirculate in the Federal Reserve banking system.

   This cul-de-sac on Pearl Street, was by nature a rather secure location - what with both the Brooklyn District Attorneys' offices and Brooklyn Law School as a direct neighbors to 370 Jay Street. The neighborhood in itself was relatively safe: the Kings County Supreme Court, Kings County Criminal Court, Kings County Family Court, Kings County Civil Court, Brooklyn Borough Hall and the Main Branch of the Post Office all within a short walking distance. Transit Police headquarters was two blocks away (but a detachment regularly occupied 370 Jay Street - and of which the administrative offices of NYCTA moved into this building after 1990). The 84th Precinct of the New York Police Department was four blocks away. Several state and federal law enforcement agencies were also within very close proximity to 370 Jay Street. All of which gave the surrounding neighborhood for 370 Jay Street, a very significant law enforcement presence.

The Consolidated Revenue Facility

   But as time marches on; so does history. Buildings become old. Heating plants and elevators wear out; electrical and plumbing systems become insufficient, with so much office equipment electrical driven these days. You can only repaint the walls so many times, but that does little to renew, repair and improve the structure itself. Structures, like vehicles; become obsolete for their intended purposes. In some cases, it becomes more cost efficient to build a new facility or split up operations amongst several building than reconstruct an old one; and 370 Jay Street was no exception.

   The NYCTA slowly began vacating their administrative offices from 370 Jay Street beginning in 1990; however the NYCTA Revenue Department remained on site until 2006.

   In that year; NYCTA revenue operations were consolidated with the MTA and TBTA Bridges & Tunnels, and relocated to newly constructed, extremely high security facility in Ridgewood, Queens; bordering on Newtown Creek upon the former Cerro Wire property.

   In all honesty, the new facility has the appearance of a maximum security prison rather than a municipal structure. But being equally as honest, that make perfect sense.

   The widespread acceptance of MetroCards and their (mostly) electronic payment systems; did away with a significant amount of handling of coins and currency at the token booths. With this diminished handling of coin and currency, it is nowhere on the scale of pre-MetroCard era and no longer required the established method of collection, which we will discuss in the next chapter.
MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) - NYCT (New York City Transit) - B&T (Bridges & Tunnels) Consolidated Revenue Facility
Ridgewood, Queens

images courtesy of Google Maps


The Revenue Collection Train(s)

(or: how to collect all that money efficiently and get it to headquarters to be counted)

   Obviously, when dealing with a transit system of the size that operates in the City of New York; a lot of money had to be picked up from the token booths.

1904 to 1951 - questions abound

   For IRT and BMT operations prior to the First Unification in 1940 - research is proceeding continually and forthcoming, and as t
here is contradictory information. The New York Times reports that fare revenue was collected by armored truck and delivered to 250 Hudson Street (which still stands to this day) - and where revenue was counted and stored by the Board of Transportation, prior to the opening of 370 Jay Street in 1951.

   Also consider the fact that the IRT Broadway - Seventh Avenue Line (the present  lines) runs under Varick Street, and is a mere 350 feet to the east of 250 Hudson Street.

   But in the December 31, 2006 New York Times article "Cash & Carry" by Jeff Vandam; he states there is mention of a money train in the New York Times as far back as 1905, shortly after the subway opened. l have searched for this article, but it eludes me at this time.

   We do know of at least two Revenue Collection Cars existing prior to 1951 and associated Transit Authority operations (see roster below), with the R-8 revenue cars being built in 1939 expressly as revenue collection cars. So, new equipment built prior to and for the express purpose of revenue collection before the known revenue collection train operation of the Transit Authority? Obviously, the Board of Transportation was collecting revenue by train prior to the Transit Authority's creation and the opening of 370 Jay Street. 

   There are other coincidences as well, that are worth considering: the Board of Transportation (prior to occupying 250 Hudson Street beginning in January 1, 1930); was a tenant of 120 Broadway, of which had direct access to three transit stations via non-BOT (privately owned) passageways:
  • IRT Wall Street & William Street Station of the Broadway - Seventh Avenue Line (the present  lines), 
  • IRT Wall Street & Broadway Station of the Lexington Avenue Line (present lines) and,
  • BMT Broad Street Station of the Nassau Street Line (present line)

   For the record, 120 Broadway is the Equitable Life Insurance Building. Other than hosting many notable tenants as well as the Board of Transportation throughout its lifetime; it has in its basement, several huge vaults which were constructed for both for Equitable use as well as those of its tenants.

   As stated in Wikipedia for Broad Street Station: "Outside of fare control, the station's main entrance / exit has a long passage that is only open weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It runs north three blocks to the basement of 28 Liberty Street, where two sets of doors and a wide staircase lead to an unmarked entrance / exit at the east side of Nassau Street at Cedar Street. This entrance also provides access to the Wall Street / William Street station (2 and ​3 trains) and the Wall Street / Broadway station (4 and ​5 trains).[19]

   The passage also has two closed exits; one led to the northwestern corner of Wall Street and Nassau Street and was closed by 1992.[22] The other led to the northwestern corner of Cedar Street and Nassau Street, near 140 Broadway, but was closed by 1999 and has since been repurposed into an emergency exit.[23] Halfway through the passage, a short staircase from the west side leads up to a narrower passageway that runs through the basement of the Equitable Building before two offset High Entrance / Exit Turnstiles provide entrance to the Wall Street / Broadway station.[19]"

   An interesting video on the Equitable Vaults, which briefly mentions hidden subway stops in its title.

   Another subway corridor that connects the Chase Manhattan Bank building and:
  • IRT Lexington Avenue Line (present lines) and,
  • BMT Nassau Street Line (present line)

   So, in conclusion we have multiple private passageways connecting different subway routes, one of which through a financial institution and another to the former headquarters of one of the operating agencies which had vaults. Interesting coincidences to say the least.

   At the very minimum, it appears the reported armored trucks operating on the street,
were augmented with early collection trains.

undoubtedly, we are missing a few pieces of the puzzle for the history of revenue collection here.

   Input is most welcome:

IRT R244 - Lo V
image courtesy of - D. Grotjahn

IND R247-248 - R6-3 
image courtesy of - M. Hodurski

IND R248 - R6-3 
image courtesy of Matt Csenge

   The first revenue cars that were purposely built for this particular duty, were built by St. Louis Car Company in 1939. Contract # R-8A, car #66 and #67. Only two cars were built.

   The standard windows would be replaced with bullet resistant glass; and welded grills bolted over the windows on the interior of the car. Also the center sets of doors were omitted entirely.


IND R8A #66
image courtesy of - D. Pirmann

Note the round steel barrels with a locking lid. These are early strongboxes.
image courtesy of New York Transit Museum Digital Collections

IND R8A - #67
image courtesy of - D. Pirmann

   After the 1939 R-8A cars were retired, they Transit Authority embarked upon rebuilding the next series of revenue cars in house.

1951 to 2006 - the NYCTA Era

   What has been conclusively publicized and documented are the Revenue Collection Trains after 1951.

   This is where "the Revenue Collection Train"
comes in and this is what the NYCTA calls it. What everyone else calls it, colloquially; is "the money train."

   With that, revenue collection cars operated during the Board of Transportation and Transit Authority eras of operation (1940-1953 and 1953-2006 respectively); and consisted of former passenger subway cars – almost always rebuilt from older rolling stock that had been retired from passenger carrying service (with one exception), but still had some life left in them. When these cars served, armored trucks also collected revenue from stations.They have the tools, and they have the talent!

   Beginning in 1988, under the R-95 contract; one R-21 (originally constructed by St. Louis Car Company in 1956) and eighteen R-22 cars (also constructed by St. Louis Car Company, but in 1957) were converted into Revenue Collection Cars.

   This gave the NYCTA eight trains (not just one); four sets for regular service and one set in reserve
on the IRT Division; and four sets for regular service and one extra revenue car in reserve for BMT and IND Divisions. These would also be the last series of revenue collection cars built, and served up until 2006.

   On this model of revenue cars, some of the windows would be "blanked" (a/k/a plated over). The center sets of doors were blanked as well, reducing the number egress points. Bars were welded over the windows on the outside of the car. However, these cars were painted safety yellow, making the collection car look more on the order of a work car or train, than that of an armored car.

   The interior equipment: the revenue car was equipped with drop down shelves
for counting out tokens and currency for disbursement, that were hinged over the small rolling strongboxes; much in the fashion old railway post office cars were equipped on the older long distance trains. Cabinets for various items were mounted to the walls - empty cloth money bags for holding coins, currency and tokens; the security seals for the bags; supplies of blank accounting forms; and other logistical items necessary for revenue transportation.

   Coins, currency and tokens was stored in dark green rolling strongboxes. These strongboxes were equipped with half hinged tops and fronts with padlock tabs on top. To open the front panel, you opened the top slightly, and then could drop the top half of the front panel. These strongboxes were lined up along the bottom of the walls under the drop shelves of the revenue car.

   The locker car was more spartan: subway seating remained along one wall, and fixed narrow tables in front of them for paperwork, cups of coffee; newspapers. There were a cluster of lockers offset for uniforms and presumably ammunition, shotguns, and personal effects.

   In both the revenue car and the adjoining locker car; were revenue collecting agents; along with a detachment of uniformed New York City Transit Police; each of whom were obviously armed. Each officer carried their standard issue side arm; .38 caliber revolvers at first, and in 1990; 9 millimeter semi-automatic handguns were authorized and adopted. Never brandished or confirmed, but assumed to have been on board; were shotguns for close quarters defense. There were two radio systems aboard: one on the frequency of train operations, another on the frequency of the Transit Police Department.

   With some exceptions of large stations where the token booths are located on a mezzanine; the train platforms were mostly on the same level as the token booths. A lot of stations, especially the IRT; are constructed with the token booth a mere 20 or 30 feet from the platform. So, the train was the most convenient way to make revenue collections.

Revenue Collection Train - Locker Car IR 714 (IRT)
On display at IND Court Street / Transit Museum Station, Brooklyn NY

Revenue Collection Train - Revenue Car OR 715 (BMT / IND)
Note the removable / portable gap fillers at the each of the door sills.
This allowed an original IRT R-21/22 car to be used on BMT and IND lines.

Revenue Collection Train - Locker Car Interior (IRT)

Revenue Collection Train - Revenue Car Interior (IRT)
Note the small rolling strongboxes under the folding counter space.

Revenue Collecting Agent - Revenue Car OR717 (IRT)
This image were taken by MTA photographer Patrick Cashin on the final day of Money Train service in 2006
courtesy of New York Transit Museum
bottom most image above; courtesy of New York Transit Museum . All other images and and data in roster below courtesy of / David Pirmann. 

Revenue Collection Trains Roster
IRT - BMT - IND (Board of Transportation)
New Car #Old Car #Original #Car TypeNotesNew Car #Old Car #Original #Car TypeNotes
Pressed Steel Car Co. - 1916-192530178201782500StandardAmerican Car Foundry - 1914-19
R2445622Lo-VPressed Steel Car Co. - 1916-192530179201792714StandardPressed Steel Car Co. - 1921
30183201835302Lo-VPressed Steel Car Co. - 1916-192530180201802741StandardPressed Steel Car Co. - 1921

M247923R-6-3both American Car Foundry - 1935
stored 207th Street Yard awaiting restoration
M248 / R248925R-6-3

2017767R-8ASt. Louis Car Company - 1939
2017868R-8ASt. Louis Car Company - 1939

Revenue Collection Trains 
New York City Transit Authority
IRT - Division A
one revenue car and one locker car made up one train.
BMT - Division B1 /  IND - Division B2*
one revenue car and one locker car made up one train.
New Car # New Contract # Old Car # Old Contract # Car Type Train Basing location Notes New Car # New Contract # Old Car # Old Contract # Car Type Train Basing location Notes
0R714 R-95 (1988) 7194 R-21 Revenue #2 East 180th St. Bronx St. Louis Car Company - 1956
was in NYTM
0R719 R-95 (1988) 7389 R-22 Revenue #7 Jamaica, Queens St. Louis Car Company - 1957
1R714 R-95 (1988) 7422 R-22 Locker #2 East 180th St., Bronx St. Louis Car Company - 1957
was in NYTM
1R719 R-95 (1988) 7386 R-22 Locker #7 Jamaica, Queens St. Louis Car Company - 1957

0R715 R-95 (1988) 7343 R-22 Revenue #3 Corona, Queens St. Louis Car Company - 1957 0R720 R-95 (1988) 7337 R-22 Revenue  #8 Concourse, Bronx St. Louis Car Company - 1957
1R715 R-95 (1988) 7424 R-22 Locker #3 Corona, Queens St. Louis Car Company - 1957 1R720 R-95 (1988) 7444 R-22 Locker #8 Concourse, Bronx St. Louis Car Company - 1957

0R716 R-95 (1988) 7355 R-22 Revenue #1 Livonia, Brooklyn St. Louis Car Company - 1957 0R721 R-95 (1988) 7392 R-22 Revenue #5 36th St, Brooklyn St. Louis Car Company - 1957
1R716 R-95 (1988) 7410 R-22 Locker #1 Livonia, Brooklyn St. Louis Car Company - 1957 1R721 R-95 (1988) 7449 R-22 Locker #5 36th St, Brooklyn St. Louis Car Company - 1957

0R717 R-95 (1988) 7313 R-22 Revenue  #3A Livonia, Brooklyn St. Louis Car Company - 1957 0R722 R-95 (1988) 7368 R-22 Revenue #6 36th St, Brooklyn St. Louis Car Company - 1957
1R717 R-95 (1988) 7314 R-22 Locker  #3A Livonia, Brooklyn St. Louis Car Company - 1957 1R722 R-95 (1988) 7459 R-22 Locker #6 36th St, Brooklyn St. Louis Car Company - 1957

0R718 R-95 (1988) 7379 R-22 Revenue IRT - Spare St. Louis Car Company - 1957 0R723 R-95 (1988) 7490 R-22 Revenue BMT-IND Spare St. Louis Car Company - 1957
1R718 R-95 (1988) 7374 R-22 Locker IRT - Spare St. Louis Car Company - 1957
* Since the R-22 / R-95 cars are built to IRT dimensions, and use a portable gap filler for use on BMT and IND divisions;
these cars could be run on IRT divisions if need be, by simply lifting the gap filler off the sill.

How it operated...

    Contrary to Hollywood; the premise was to keep the revenue collection train low key – and not take on the appearance of some heavily armored tank that looked more at place on a battlefield. Like the phrase goes: "hidden in plain sight".
They were not shiny, with gun ports and narrow slits of windows like one sees on armored cars. They were painted safety yellow, allowed to accumulate the typical subway grime and simply looked like other mundane, run of the mill, "rode hard and put away wet" work equipment; which was more than commonplace throughout the transit system. It was fully intended to "blend" with its environment.

   When it came to the operations of the revenue collection trains; secrecy and randomness was its primary defense and its offensive weapon. The revenue collection trains never departed their terminals at the same time, nor did they arrive at the stations along its route at the same times each night. If one was to see it at a particular station early one morning say, Columbus Circle at 3:15 am; it would not be at Columbus Circle at 3:15 a.m. the next morning. It could come earlier or later.  

   Unless you looked at the car number (and recognized it like an employee or train buff would); there was little to inform a common subway passenger waiting on a platform, if it were a signal dolly (used for carrying parts for railway signals and other heavy electrical components), a pump car (which contained pumps to empty out flooded stations), or; if it contained several hundred thousands of dollars in cash and tokens.

   That is, until the doors opened.
A bunch of guys got out in hard hats and safety vests? It was a work train and they were going to fix something. If Transit Police and armed revenue collecting agents disembarked? It was the Revenue Train.

   The Revenue Collection Trains would begin their journeys from their respective terminals in the dead of night; stopping and each and every station, picking up the days proceeds and dropping off tokens, coinage for change if necessary, as well as empty sacks and seal for replenishment; if so requested.

   If the token booth was located upstairs on a mezzanine (like at express and junction stations), the collection train stopped at the stairs closest to the token booth. If the token booth was on the same level to the platform (such as in the case of local stations), the collection train stopped directly in front of the token booth.

Bagging the revenue proceeds prior to pick up - that was the Revenue Clerks (Token Clerk) job!

   The revenue clerk at the end of their shift was required to account for their shifts proceeds. After counting, the proceeds were placed into canvas bags. One bag for each different type of revenue: one for US coins, one for US currency (paper money), and one for any counterfeit tokens or slugs recovered from the turnstiles; vouchers, weekend / holiday half fare tickets, senior citizen & handicapped half fare tickets, or any other reduced or free fare passes that were tendered to the clerk during their shift.

   Each were tallied and entered onto an envelope with a printed list on it; placed in the bag and sealed with a metal seal on string:

   The tool that crimped this metal seal, also embossed a code denoting the location the bag was sealed at. If by chance you ran out of string and seal, or the tool broke; you would call for an assistant station supervisor.

   These sealed canvas bags (seen above) were placed into a double door vault mounted to the wall of the token booth: one door was on the inside, one door on the outside with lock and key - the outer door can be seen in the image of the token booth below right. 
Unlike the bus fareboxes vault drawers, these booth vaults were constructed much more stoutly, and not prone to robbery, if they were even noticed at all. Basically hidden in plain sight. Furthermore, token booths have video surveillance and alarm systems.
   Upon arriving at a station; two or more armed revenue collecting agents disembarked from the collection train and proceeded
to the token booth. It should be understood that in almost every case, the interaction between the Revenue Agent (token clerk) and the Revenue Collection Agents (revenue collectors) was not a face to face transaction were the token clerk opened the door for the collecting agent to enter.

   At the token booth, the collection agent opened the exterior door on the vault which granted access to the interior of the vault. Here, the agent picked up the proceeds for the day from the vault; already packaged and sealed in the cloth bags.

   At small stations; the revenue agents might simply retrieve one or two revenue bags by hand; but at large stations, there may be dozens of revenue bags in the vault, way too many to carry by hand and still be easily defensible from theft. So, on those stations where the token booth was on platform level, the revenue collection agents wheeled a rolling strongbox directly to the token booth side to be loaded, and brought directly back into the collection train.

   For those agents retrieving revenue at stations where the token booth was located on an upper mezzanine level, and stairs separated the booth from the platform, then one collection agent carried canvas bags by hand, while another guarded him. And at large stations, it may have required three or four collection agents to retrieve the multiple bags. Here, their work was cut out for them. 

   Both collecting agents returned to the revenue collection train and placed the canvas bags into the rolling strongbox.

   Also taking place at this time of pick up, a generous supply of empty canvas bags and seals were replenished at the token booth for the next days receipts, if so required. If a holiday or other large event where increased token usage was expected, the collections agents would bring additional bags of tokens for said occasion over and above the daily required amount.

   For those full bags of tokens arriving to the booth, the revenue clerk in the booth weighed the bags. As each bag contained 1000 tokens - it was faster to weigh than count. When tokens were first released - a bag of tokens was worth $150. At 50 cents per token in 1980, one bag was worth $500. By the end of token usage: 2003 - a single canvas bag of tokens was equivalent to $1,500 dollars.

    Never confirmed either, were the presence (or lack thereof) of plainclothes Transit Police at random or high risk stops, until the collection train left. Once the collecting agents and accompanying police officers were back on board the revenue train, the doors were closed and secured; and “train” rumbled off to the next station down the line to repeat the process.

   All in all, it was a quick process of retrieving the revenue from a token booth. Obviously, to linger at the stations for any reason, opened up opportunities to a heist.

   I am most thankful and indebted to Ms. Ricki Bauman, retire NYCTA revenue clerk for the operational insight and duties of a revenue clerk. I still need
a revenue collectors insight to this process would certainly be most helpful and welcome; and said collecting agent is most invited to contact me.

   If the train needed to be held up for any reason say, a train in passenger service service breaking down,
a sick passenger on a train ahead; work on the tracks; switch problems, whatever the reason; in between stations was a safer location for the revenue collection train to wait than in the station. But for the most part, operations during late night to early morning were without delay.

   The Revenue Collection Trains would work their way towards
downtown Brooklyn, where 370 Jay Street was located. At the end of collecting along its respective routes; the Revenue Collection Trains would be switched to one of the three subway lines that ran in the immediate proximity of the basement of 370 Jay Street.

   The IRT Division Revenue Collection Trains would stop in the tunnel just southeast of the Manhattan bound Borough Hall Station.

   The BMT Division Revenue Collection Trains would stop in the tunnel as well, at a platform just west of the Manhattan bound Lawrence Street 

   The IND Division Revenue Collection Trains however would stop in the middle of the station of the Coney Island bound 
Jay Street - Borough Hall Station.

   At all three of these platforms, there is a very nondescript roll up door sitting at a small 10 foot long or so platform. The only roll up door that is visible from a public area, is the one located adjacent to the IND Jay Street - Borough Hall
Station, and of which can be seen in the image below right. Note the video camera tucked into the vaulted ceiling, watching the door and platform!

   To think, when I was a regular commuter on the
line, I saw this door many times, and I didn't even realize its significance.

   Behind each of these roll up doors are corridors, of which that led to a pair of freight elevators.

   If I remember correctly, these freight elevators were constructed with only two stops: the subway level corridors and the second floor of 370 Jay Street. There was no access at either the first floor or to higher floors in the building for these two elevators. This prevented the elevator car from stopping, or being stopped on the first floor or above the second floor, where the strongboxes could be brought to the street or to another floor, accidentally or intentionally; in an attempt to steal them.

   The rolling strongboxes containing the days receipts would be transferred from the Revenue Collection Trains, through the corridors and onto the elevator; where the loaded strong boxes would be brought up to the secure count rooms and vaults on the second floor. Already emptied strongboxes would be stored in the corridor, and placed on the train for the following nights collection run, to repeat the process again the following day; again - at a slightly different time.

   With the widespread acceptance of MetroCards; tokens were eliminated in 2003. With the subsequent drift to electronic funds transfer to purchase or "refill" the MetroCard value; from either a MetroCard Vending Machine (MVM) or from the comfort of your own business or residence; did away with a significant amount of handling of coins and currency at the token booths. This diminished handling of coin and currency, is nowhere on the scale of pre-MetroCard era revenue handling and no longer required the Revenue Collection Train.

   So, the Revenue Collection Trains were abolished in 2006, following the relocation of the revenue department of the NYCTA to Queens to the MTA Consolidated Revenue Facility. Regular (and mundane) armored trucks now pick up the fare proceeds now.

Fare and Revenue Collection Crimes - The Ugly and the Humorous

Attempts on the Collection TrainBus Driver / Farebox RobberiesToken Booth RobberiesToken SuckingInside JobsAnd speaking of inside jobs..

Attempts on the Collection Train

   Truth be told; there were numerous attempts at heisting the revenue car. While the NYCTA refrained of publicizing them for fear of copy cats; (and justifiably so), the New York Times reported the following. On four occasions in 1950; three Manhattan teenagers descended into the subway station with the goal of robbing the collection train.
 Fortunately, none were successful.

   Whether discouraged by the number of potential witnesses on the platform; the show of force by Transit Police on the collection train, or because they had simply missed the train, they did not succeed. Their fourth attempt, which took place after midnight at the 175th Street station on the  line, was also a failure. They missed the train, redirected their attention to the change booth and ended up shooting the token clerk, who died. They escaped downtown, whereupon they stole $60 from the Grand Union Hotel on East 32nd Street. They were arrested the next morning and alluded to their original intent.

   All things considered, a single person had little to zero chance of taking on a squad of officers of Transit Police; so at the least; a group of several criminals was needed. And any group who thought to wait for hours for the train to eventually arrive; would have seemed out of place what with regular trains coming and leaving and the group not leaving. A group of shifty, apprehensive people standing on the platform, waiting for extended period of time? No doubt suspicions would be raised.

   Furthermore, the same reasons that made revenue collecting of vast sums of coin and or currency inconvenient - the stairs to the elevateds and subways; would also be a hindrance to robbing the revenue train as well. What's the point, when you have run up or a down flights of stairs with 50, 60 or more or pounds of currency. If one is going to assume the risk of taking on a dozen Transit Police Officers, you better come away with more than just what you can carry in your hand. Heisting the collection train was to say the least a daunting prospect, even when considered. There were easier ways for thieves to rob some funds from the Transit System.

Bus Driver Change Maker and Farebox Robberies

   While history has recorded isolated cases of bus farebox and rapid transit change booth robberies dating back to the 1930's. Cases were far and few between, and the problem was isolated to perhaps two or three drivers getting robbed a year.

   Around the 1960's, crimes exploded throughout New York City; including crimes against the transit system. 
The increase of the armed robbery of bus drivers was one such category.

   Robbers were brandishing a knife or a firearm, and relieving the driver of his change maker and the change within the farebox. Remember, at this time, the driver had access to the change in the farebox to replenish his change maker during the course of his shift, to
refill his change maker to provide change for fare payment and for the purchase of transfers. Furthermore, it was the drivers responsibility to empty the farebox at the end of the route and bring it to the accounting room.

   When aggregated at the end of a shift, it meant the fareboxes could hold a few hundred dollars
. The Transit Authority via the New York Times reported: 56 driver robberies in 1966, 97 in 1967, 244 in 1968 and 356 in 1969.

    So the first step taken in the attempt to eliminate bus driver robberies, saw the farebox now equipped with a double key locked coin vault drawer. This vault drawer required two keys: one to unlock it and allow removal from pedestal, the other key to actually open the drawer lid. The first key, allowed personnel at the bus depot, aptly called a "vault puller"; to remove the drawer from the bus and bring to the count room, but not allow him to access the coins to prevent theft. A second key was kept in the count room, and it was this key that actually opened the drawer and allowed it to be emptied of coinage for sorting and counting.

   When the fare was a nickel, a thousand passengers aggregated to $50. But with each successive raise in fare, first to a dime, and then higher; the "drop" multiplied. A thousand passengers at 20 cents each, was $200. In 1975, when the fares rose to 50 cents, a thousand passengers = $500. And, a bus route on a main thoroughfare certainly could meet or exceed 1000 passengers easily and by the end of a shift.

   Robbing the bus became much more lucrative, as well as became a team effort. The vault drawers may have been locked in the fare box pedestal, but thieves don't need keys. Two thieves now brought crowbars with them. One would hold the driver at knife or gun point; while the second pried the vault drawer out of the pedestal with the crowbars.
   So this led to another, even more secure; design of pedestal. The answer lay in doing away with the removable vault drawers altogether. They were removed from the pedestals; and coins now dropped into a sealed coin vault mounted directly to the floor of the bus; and within the pedestal. Coins and tokens could only be removed by a huge vacuum operated device back at the bus depot.

    The vacuum unit was large, and it was quite powerful - it could evacuate the contents of the sealed fare box vault in 20 seconds or less. As the unit required electricity to operate the vacuum as well as contained electronics for sorting and accounting, it was not portable. This elaborate, stationary and very secure system made it difficult, practically impossible for robbery of the fareboxes, not to mention the bus depots had many personnel milling about instead of a single vulnerable person. This, finally solved the problem of farebox robberies. The design of this vacuum is well covered in the Farebox Chapter.

   Somewhat humorously, one robber didn't get the word, because on September 1, 1969 (the day after the bus system became exact change only and drivers no longer had either a change maker or access to the proceeds in the farebox); a driver was robbed of his personal $6.00 pocket money, because the thief was not aware of the change in policy and the totally sealed farebox. This made for the 357th driver robbery for 1969.

   But as we have unfortunately learned, the criminal element evolves. As such,
it led to either the entire bus being held up at gunpoint which did occur, but in extremely isolated cases.

   Much more commonly, the incidents that replaced farebox robbing and that were now taking place, were token booths in the subway and elevated lines being robbed.

Token Booth Robberies

   Speaking of; it was significantly easier to rob the token booth. While it was a wholly random crime in the first half of the 20th Century it was not unheard of.
Like most crimes, it became a commonplace occurrence by the 1960’s through the 1980’s; when inner city living conditions degraded to the point that made a certain element to become desperate and brazen.

    Despite all the security measures the NYCTA could take, nothing prevented attempts, whether unsuccessful or those that did succeed. Almost all of the successful crimes involving Transit Authority revenue proceeds were "light weight"; in other words of low yield. Until the 1970's a token booth or bus farebox robbery would only net the criminal a few hundred dollars at best.

   With the fare hikes in the 1970's, like with the bus fare box robberies, "takes" increased to $1,000 or more.

   Token booth robberies became more frequent and with greater success, and with increasing fares, larger amounts of money were taken - when successful. As many of the token booths still had open grill windows dating from the early 1900's, a robber stuck the barrel of a handgun through the grill and demanded the proceeds. The criminal element was getting more desperate, and several token clerks lost their lives by being shot to death when they resisted or failed to open the door to the token booth, and the criminal fled empty handed.

The NYCTA responded by covering the open grill transaction windows that dated back to the 1800’s, with bullet resistant glass, and furthermore with the installation of enclosed token booths, made of bullet resistant glass and metal construction, with a coin slot for token / monetary transactions.

   But, the criminal element then adapted to a most despicable, vile and heinous method.

   The pouring of flammable liquids (usually gasoline) through the coin slot. If the token clerk did not open the door to let the thief in, more than one "degenerate" (keeping it clean here - this is a family website!) severely injuring and / or c
osting the lives of several token clerks.

   Following a rash of these attacks the year before, in 1990 the NYCTA installed Halon fire suppression systems equipped with in the token booths throughout the system. Flame sensors instantaneously triggered the discharge of that fire suppression system which helped prevent serious injury to the clerks.

   Sadly, on November 26, 1995; two individuals attempted to rob the Kingston - Throop Station Token Booth on the IND 
& lines. One of these degenerates squirted gasoline from a soda bottle into the coin slot and ignited it, hoping to force out the token clerk.

it caused a flammable vapor explosion; literally blowing the token booth apart and of which a photo can be seen at right.

   A scene in the movie "Money Train", bore striking resemblance to this incident; and the NYCTA as a matter of record, objected to the scene in the script and asked it be removed, as well as refused to allow the film crew of the movie to film that sequence on NYCTA property; in the hopes to avoid "copycatting".

   Removal of the scene was refused on the part of the studio; and the movie crew shot the scene on a stage instead. 

November 26, 1995 Kingston - Throop Station Token Booth
courtesy of NY Daily News
   Obviously; it had still provided new inspiration to a couple of savages, and they attempted it.
Despite the clerk surviving the blast, he died the next day. The automatic fire suppression system? It had been disabled by a employee who was cigarette smoker.

   This type of crime happened a few more times after this occasion, with one of the last taking place in 2002.
But rigid enforcement of not covering up the flame sensors, and the installation of closed circuit TV monitors to record outside the token booths and capture on video the face(s) of the perpetrator(s) for positive identification and incontrovertible evidence acted sufficiently as a deterrent.

advent of electronic / digital fare collection systems and its reduction of cash on hand as well as the elimination of the token, eliminated any significant and immediate financial gain in holding up the token booth.


Token Sucking

   In the realm of transit crimes, there is one in particular that leaves a distinct, disgusting flavor in our mouths. No, seriously; for real...

   Down on their luck vagrants, transients, drug addicts needing quick cash for a fix, and extremely low echelon criminals with no other experience in crime; would jam the token slot with a piece of paper or a foil gum wrapper, and they would go stand in a corner inco
nspicuously of the payment area.

   A passenger would come along, and deposit their token. But it would not fall through to the operating mechanism, with the turnstile remaining locked and leaving the passenger with in an inoperable turnstile and no access to the platform.

   Some frustrated passengers would try to place a second or even a third token in an attempt to gain access to the subway. Upon this failing, they would either grumble and switch to another turnstile and deposit yet another token at their expense; or they would grumble and go to the token clerk to complain, in the hopes of either getting a replacement token or be let through the automatic gate.

   In the time period between the clerk coming out of the booth to chain off the turnstile from further use (and calling a turnstile maintenance person come for repair);  the "token sucker" would place his or her mouth over the token slot, and sucked the token(s) out.

   The token(s) were then used by the token sucker to ride the subway for themselves; or more commonly, sold at reduced cost to strangers on the street. There were even somewhat organized "token fencers", that these tokens suckers turned in their "haul" to, who after paying the token sucker, would still sell the tokens but now with themselves taking a cut. Some New Yorkers are always looking for a good deal.

   Token clerks, once they caught onto the practice; began putting cayenne pepper, chili powder or other spicy or bitter powders or liquids around the top of the token slot. Brush on nail biting / thumb sucking deterrent (which was commonly available in drug stores) was a popular favorite to discourage token sucker from plying their trade. It would dry on the turnstile and reconstitute when some degenerates' wet lips were placed over the slot.

   This rather repulsive practice ultimately ended with the discontinuation of tokens in 2003.



Inside Jobs

Despite being bonded and insured for handling revenue; there have been a significant amount of incidents, in which the temptation would get the better of change and token clerks.

   Over the last century and a half, and
in the course of their duties; several now former employees skimmed cash and / or tokens. Some, stand out:

   In 1937, an IND Lines maintenance man was found embezzling nickels out of turnstiles and turning the coin counter back to cover up his thefts. He was dismissed. Two years later, after trying to deposit various amounts
into several different banks totaling $25,000; it was further determined he purchased a two homes, an automobile, paid cash for an appendectomy and regularly made $50 to $70 bets at the racetrack from the proceeds of his thefts over the 5 years he was employed. That's a lot of nickels.. (This case may be related to the next, but no mention of this persons name or details from this case are mentioned in the next article.)

   In January 1939, an internal
investigation began when a discrepancy of $300,000 in fares and the turnstile counters was discovered. Further investigation by the District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey discovered the embezzlement began 5 years prior and totaled $1.3 million - equal to 3% of gross fare receipts for that year. It was discovered that the $13,000,000 had been embezzled from turnstiles by the collusion of up to thirty IND station agents, clerks and maintenance men.  That's 26,000,000 nickels total, or 5,200,000 nickels per year. That many nickels weighs 286,000 pounds or 143 tons. Now, that's a lot of nickels!!!

September 18, 1954 transit employees passing a booth, noticed a line of approximately 40 passengers looking to purchase tokens with no one present in the booth, which was locked. Upon investigating further, it was determined that the enterprising but strange clerk made off with 8000 tokens (at 15 cents each equaled $1200). And $35 in cash! It has never been said all crooks were smart.


And speaking of inside jobs...

   But the biggest crime that took place on the NYCTA, was not the heisting of a money train or a hijacking a train of passengers for ransom ("gesundheit!" - the 1974 version is still the best!) 

   It would happen under their own roof, and under their own nosesIn what I can only describe as a combination of plots from Oceans 11 and the Keystone Cops; one fateful weekend in July 1979, the “practically impenetrable” vaults at 370 Jay Street were robbed of $600,000 of $10 bills weighing approximately 120 pounds. No other denominations of currency were taken. No damage to any of the strongboxes was evident. Access to the money room, was accomplished by through a hole through the wall from the women's locker room. Who made the hole? Transit cops who locked themselves out of the count room a few weeks prior, to go on a coffee run; had broken through the wall to get back in.

   The details of the caper slowly came to light in the following series of newspaper articles which, because of their slightly comedic overtones, I have reproduced here to be read in their entirely.
So grab yourself a cup of coffee or a cold drink - but don't lock yourself out of your room going to get it!

New York Times - July 24, 1979

New York Daily News - July 24, 1979

New York Daily News - July 25, 1979

New York Daily News - August 5, 1979

New York Daily News - August 5, 1979 continued

New York Daily News - July 14, 1980

   Ultimately, Transit Police Chief Sanford D. Garelik and his deputy were terminated. Ironically, all the Money Room employees that were employed when the embezzlement took place, remained employed. Over seven hundred employees were fingerprinted, investigated and one allegedly failed their polygraph test. However, there was insufficient information to issue an arrest warrant.

   The incident was never called a robbery within the TA; (and technically so, the crime was of embezzlement if it was an inside job).

   The only clues turned up a few weeks later - two empty currency bags similar to the ones used with the Revenue Department were found in a motel room in New Jersey.

   And as of composing this chapter on September 17, 2022; the case remains unsolved.

Fare Miscellany

Station Entrance Globes

   Introduced in early 1982 (March 8, 1982 New York Times), colored fare globes were introduced. Because these fare globes were directly related to the token booth being staffed or not, I felt it was worthy of inclusion on this website.

These colored globes were installed in response to two factors: 1) passengers entering an unattended station and not being able pay their fare to board the trains, especially late at night; and 2) as crimes were being committed at unattended locations where there were minimal foot traffic and no transit employee on duty.

   For this system, the color of the cube shaped globe flanking the staircases up to an elevated or down to a subway would indicate if that particular subway or elevated station entrance was attended by a token clerk or not.

   This first system consisted of three colors:

   This system was carried over to the newer round globe style lights:

courtesy of the New York Post

   In the 1990's, the system was revised to a two color system, and only the top half of the globe was colored - the bottom half was now white to allow more downward white light and better illumination of the staircases, and the yellow indication was abolished, which was causing confusion in daylight conditions, as it could appear off white in daytime, and especially under sodium vapor street lamps at night which can cast a pinkish orange hue; and therefore give no indication of the service type.

   Furthermore, station design would not necessarily dictate a round globe being employed, as square sconces were installed at some subway stations as can be seen at the 181st Street Station on the IND  Line below.

Erroneous posts made by the Transit Museum on Facebook and corresponding
correct information

   As stated in the introduction of this website, one of the most unfortunate and frustrating things that takes place is the repetitious posting of erroneous information in social media. This holds doubly true when the New York Transit Museum is the one making the erroneous posts on their own Facebook page.

   With all due consideration and utmost respect for the salaried employees as well as the volunteers who donate their time and work hard for one of the best Rapid Transit Museums in the United States, the posting of erroneous information on their part is especially grievous, considering they have all the resources necessary pertaining to their own history.

   The Transit Museum has the interns, docents and personnel with higher education degrees to facilitate these corrections. Furthermore, how much could the expenses possibly amount to, in changing the wording in a display placard in the museum or on their posts? What we are discussing here; it's a cheap fix. Actually, no cost at all when it comes to posts on Facebook.

   I would expect
some little three active member railroad museum in West Bumblescum, where the main display is a dusty HO Scale railroad layout to not do their homework. But the Transit Museum of all places?  I am not talking about a simple typo here - I am talking about blatant erroneous information; of which is easily disproved by open source documents - like a newspaper archives, Google Books, Google Patents or even the NYCTA's own published documents and images.

   What makes it more egregious, is when the Transit Museum makes a post that directly contradicts a previous post they made a few months before, for example: their post that "there were six token designs", yet another post a few months before shows a plaque on display in the museum with seven designs (and for the record, that plaque itself is missing a few designs for the actual eleven designs token the NYCTA used since 1953!)

   Established historians have been available to them for decades. They have donated their time, and contributed research and materials and objects for display. Attempts have been made numerous times over the years by previous historians; and now myself; to forward corrections for events taking place in the present day; but these apparently fall on deaf ears.

   Furthermore, what I refer to is not a matter of interpretation like with an art or a film critic or even legal findings. Again, when the pertinent facts and dates are easily researchable through independent reputable sources, there is no excuse. This is what historians and curators are for. This is where outside consultants come to be of some use. There is little one can do but hope someone at the Museum finds this website for this accurate information and takes the appropriate steps. Whoever that may be, you are more than welcome and invited to contact me at your convenience. I would be more than honored to be consulted and without charge. All I am interested in, is accuracy.

   Accuracy, in regards to history; is paramount to being a good historian.
Sensationalism may sells newspapers - but accurate history makes a historian or museum credible. Likewise, genuine mistakes are forgivable, but repeating those mistakes after an organization or museum has been informed of that error? Not so much. When I am found to be in error (and I freely admit it happens), I double check the veracity of the submitted correction, and if found to be correct; I correct my research and this website (or any other website that I author).

   Since we must choose our battles; only the posts pertaining to fare issues will be addressed here - I'll let someone else fret about subway car build dates, dates of station openings, route designations, when they changed, etc.

   And so, when the Museum gets it wrong and will not accept corrections in good faith and voluntarily correct them; no other avenue is left, but the following. I will compile their errors here in a table, with a brief rebuttal and links to the appropriate chapters on this website that further define and explain the correction to their error in length.

   Please note, I have attempted to find the oldest postings, to further reinforce how long this erroneous information has been circulating. It should be noted the Transit Museum reposts the same basic post on the annual anniversary of each occasion.

  1. Small paper tickets were not discontinued in 1920, and continued to be used until at least 1956; even longer if you count large format block tickets and general order tickets, which are still issued.
  2. Paper tickets were issued by both the private operators of the subway lines continuously since inception: the IRT, BMT and the IND / Board of Transportation in 1940. 
  3. Tickets were used on connecting elevated trains transversing over the Brooklyn Bridge at Sands Street Terminal and Park Row and were used until 1944, when elevated service ceased over the bridge. (Trolleys would remain until 1950 and offered paper transfers). 
  4. The use of paper tickets for general fare payment were again issued in 1940 for 5 cents and 10 cent tickets which were issued in 1948, by the Board of Transportation for payment of fare on subways and elevated as well as surface methods. 
  5. 15 cent tickets were issued by the Transit Authority as late as June 1956 and circulated concurrently with tokens, although not as wide spread.
  6. Ticket choppers were used on the Manhattan Elevated as far back as 1879. The Manhattan Elevated was a predecessor operation (and absorbed by the Interborough Rapid Transit in 1903 prior to the opening of the IRT subway). The ticket chopper design used by the IRT was patented in March 1894.
  7. Ticket choppers remained in regular service until 1928. The first ticket chopper was installed in May 1921, but it took seven years until the final turnstiles were installed in the last of the stations.
  8. Ticket choppers were used again when the 7 cent combination tickets (surface to rapid transit) were issued in 1948, and through 1952.
  9. Ticket choppers appear to have been used as late as the 1960's, in the IND Fulton Line Franklin Avenue Station for continuing ride transfers issued from the BMT Franklin Avenue Station (Franklin Avenue Shuttle) but this is anecdotal recollection, and has not been proved conclusively. They were confirmed to have been used again on June 30, 1980 with that fare raise as coin and token receptacles.

issued 1940 - 1944

.   .

issued 1940 - 1948

issued 1948 - 1953

reverse of 5¢ and 10¢ tickets at left
.   .

issued 1953 to at least June 1956

reverse of 15¢ ticket at left
(printed June 1956)
Additional proof that the NYCTA did NOT stop using tickets after 1920, is this change / token booth remittance envelope
seen at right. Please note, it clearly states under Miscellaneous Remittances:
(3) 15C Cash Fare Tickets, and
(5) 10C Cash Fare Tickets

Furthermore note that (10) 15C Rockaway Div. (Division) Special Refund Tickets came into existence in June 26, 1956
with the opening of that line to refund the double fare charged, and as half that double fare charge was refunded to passenger not going north of Howard Beach would be entitled to a special refund upon request. Therefore, this envelope could not have existed prior to that 1956 opening date of service. Note that the envelope is clearly marked for the New York City Transit Authority; further reinforcing the fact that tickets were in fact collected after the 1953 formation of the Transit Authority, (which was the successor to the Board of Transportation Transit System (1940-1948); and the printing data at the bottom left corner of the envelope reads
58-60-0820-200M MAY 60.
This printers jargon translates to:
original form designed 1958-1960,
Form (or stock number) 0820,
200,000 printed
most recent revision: May 1960
Therefore, tickets were still being accepted as a form of general cash fare in May 1960!

   There is more than a "two part process" in manufacturing of tokens: not including the metal manufacturing process, and post-manufacture inspecting and packaging. Also, some manufacturers (Osborne Coin / Roger Williams Mint worked directly from coiled metal, while others cut it into plates first.
Metal Manufacturing
Smelting: The base metal is manufactured by the mill, where the appropriate metals are melted together. This could be all brass
(copper and zinc) for most NYCTA tokens, a bronze (copper & tin); or a magnetically attractive metal such as cupro-nickel for magnetic discrimination like the Five Borough Token, or white metal (mostly nickel) as used for the small Special Fare token.
Other metals were used by other transit companies in New York City.
Hot Rolling: This liquid metal is then poured and formed into rolls.
Cold Rolling: After cooling the rolls of metal are sent through pressure rollers to squeeze the metal to specified thickness.
Plate Cutting:
(for some token manufacturers) Unrolled material now cut into plates for blanking.
the Token Manufacturing Process (confirmed for Osborne Coin, formerly Roger Williams Mint)
In actuality, and not including the metal making - the 5 Borough tokens were a five step process. The solid tokens were a four step process and this was the minimum amount of steps required for NYC subway token manufacture.

small Solid Y 
large Solid Y
Silver Special Fare
small Y Cutout
large Y Cutout 
Aqueduct Y Cutout
Diamond Jubilee
BullseyeFive Boro
Blanking:The punching out of blank planchets (blank coins) takes place directly from coils of metal.yesyesyesyes
Rimming:The blanks go through a machine that adds a rim to the edge.yesyesyesyes
Burnishing:Burnishing takes place in large vibratory machines that hold media designed to clean, polish and de-burr sharp edges from the blanks.
Tumbling media ranges from
corn cob to steel ball bearings; depending on the size and the material to be cleaned and polished.
Plug Punching:In the case of the "Bullseye" tokens, the center is punched outnonoyesno
Plug Inserting:The metal insert "plug" is pressed into place. This could be a magnetically attractive plug as in the case of the "Bullseye" tokens, (but can also be a non-magnetic brass plug in a non-magnetic white metal token (as in the case of the Garden State Parkway tokens). In either case, it served both as a coin discriminatory method and an anti-counterfeiting measure.nonoyesno
(a/k/a "striking")
The planchets now enter the die press where the impression of the front (obverse) and back (reverse) designs takes place.
Roger Williams Mint / Osborne Coinage edges and strikes in same process. 
Aligning for Punching:In tokens that require a punch out design, like the small and large "Y cutout" tokens or the "Diamond Jubilee", and when specified by contract; the token is aligned to the punch. Some token designs did not need to be aligned before second punching like in the case of the "5 Borough token", which was both symmetrical and in the center.noyesnono
Punching:The second punch process is accomplished.noyesnoyes
Inspection:Osborne Coinage inspection is performed manually throughout the various processes outlined above. 
Counting and Bagging:Finished and inspected tokens now dumped into a counting machine and bagged, sealed and ready for shipment to the customer.

With many thanks to Gibson Olpp of Osborne Coinage for outlining the basic steps used in token manufacture as well as the following informational videos on basic token production:
Factory Tour: Osborne Coinage - Part 1 (coils of metal, blanking, rimming & burnishing, coining; including presentation medallion manufacture, packaging, shipping).
Factory Tour: Osborne Coinage - Part 2 (50th Anniversary McDonald's Big Mac tokens: coils of metal, blanking, quality control, counting, die engraving, bulk packaging, warehouse).
How custom coins are made - a video tour - Osbourne Coinage

  1. There were 11 basic token designs - not 6. This does not include minor die varieties, which increases the total to 22 varieties.

  1. The "small Y cutout" was not the first token released by the NYCTA, the "small Y solid" was. Because of the short time span between the announcement of the raise in fare to 15 cents and the date it went into effect (approximately 6 weeks) the three token manufacturers that won the contracts could not produce enough of the small Y cutout tokens in the alloted time(as they required the extra steps of alignment and punching) in time for circulation, so the small Y token was released first as it could be produced quicker. In September 1953, when the TA had received sufficient delivery of the small Y cutouts, and then the small Y solids were removed from circulation. 

    This post usually has an image of the small Y cutout token accompanying it; and appears every July 25th.

pre-First Unification



   In the late 1800's, the numerous franchise operators were independent of each other and very often in great competition to one another. Different companies operated surface lines right under the elevated railroads. On busy streets many franchises shared trackage rights and shared the same rails.

   Through the greatness of the American system of capitalism; many companies vied for a piece of the pie. When first opened, a company may only consist of one route. Over time, that company acquired another or was itself was acquired by another.

   Some companies kept the acquired operation as a subsidiary which kept its name, or merged it with another route and changing name, or outright dissolving it and adding the route to its own. By the turn of the 19th Century, the corporate flow chart of transit companies in New York was, to say the least; befuddling. Completely separate companies would have similar names. Over half of the operations in Brooklyn had the place names "Brooklyn", "South Brooklyn" and "Coney Island" in their company title.

   And when time came for a reorganization; you could find yourself with a South Brooklyn Railway and South Brooklyn Street Railroad; both of which belonged to two separate entities until the First Unification in 1940 (actually before that with the formation of Brooklyn Rapid Transit, but let us not make matters even more confusing).

Chart of Mergers & Acquisitions

   The following chart from 1908 shows the complicated and muddled parentage, acquisitions and lessees of the various subway, elevated and streetcar lines in Manhattan. Please note, some of the early Bronx traction companies that merged into the Union Railway were not reflected, so I have added them for thoroughness. 
Keep in mind this chart above was only for Manhattan and the Bronx organizations, and many very early companies are not shown.


   Even more confusing was the organizational structure for the elevated and surface lines for Brooklyn. P
erhaps even more so, as some entities were nothing more than holding companies for operating lines leased from one company using the trackage of yet a third company.

   The following graphic should assist the New York City transit buff or historian understand the pedigree of the various transportation companies that operated in Brooklyn:

   (If you notice any errors or omissions, please feel free to contact me at

   Slowly but surely and as time marched on; companies were being consolidated around the city.

   As more and more of the New York City center; that is south (downtown) Manhattan to current Midtown; became "improved" and built upon, urban sprawl meant the "city" (Manhattan) expanded north. Subways were popular in southern "Downtown" Manhattan because of the vast development boom that had already taken place.

   But further north in Manhattan and in the outlying boroughs of Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens, elevated lines took form as it was significantly more cost effective to build girders up, than to excavate down or tunnel through rock; especially so through undeveloped or farm land.
While the elevateds in Manhattan are all but demolished, several remain in Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens and still survive.


The Coney Island Double Fare Riots: 1900 - 1910



Commutation Tickets for passengers that resided south of 22nd Avenue / Kings Highway Station.
All other passengers must pay the extra 5 cent fare to Coney Island.
(shown enlarged to 150% )

   On or about May 26, 1900, Brooklyn Rapid Transit (and its operating subsidiary Brooklyn Heights Railroad) decided to charge a double fare on cars over its lines bound to Coney Island. It may not seem like it now, but 10 cents (that's one way mind you!) in 1900 was serious money. Adjusted for inflation, this equates to $3.53 in 2022 terms, and over $7.00 dollars round trip (even though in todays economy, $3.53 does not seem like much).

   To run on the Culver Line, (which keep in mind was still a surface railroad, the elevated did not open to service until 1919), elevated cars were equipped with trolley poles to allow the cars to use both third rail pick ups during elevated running on the Fifth Avenue Elevated, as well as use overhead trolley wire during surface running east of there. A track connection at Fifth Avenue and 38th Street allowed Fifth Avenue Elevated cars to travel down a ramp and enter the street trackage of the Culver Line, where they were able to continue to Coney Island on the surface.
Elevated cars offered a higher passenger capacity than trolley cars of the era, and were often run in sets of three, four or five; with five cars being the standard.

   By 1907, the following surface car lines offered service to Coney Island. Those using the Culver Line are so noted:

  • Tompkins Avenue
  • Nostrand Avenue
  • Union Street 
  • Ninth Avenue
  • Court Street
  • 39th Street 
  • Reid Avenue 
  • 15th Street
  • Vanderbilt Avenue
  • Third Avenue
   High speed elevated 'L' train routing are as follows (five cars per train):
  • Sea Beach (via Sea Beach Line)
  • West End (via West End Line)
  • Fifth Avenue (via Culver Line - Gravesend Avenue)

   At this point in time, Coney Island was an extremely popular attraction and recreational destination, especially during the summertime. Dozens to hundreds of thousands of people would flock there to enjoy seafood, the cool ocean water, clean sand, amusement parks and rides and resort hotels along the seashore; along with more moderately priced sleeping facilities slightly inland.

   At first, most passengers acquiesced and paid the double fare; those few with the financial wherewithal, peaceably filed lawsuits against the BRT. Numerous court hearings over this double fare argument were held and worked their way up to the Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court, the Appellate Court, to the Attorney General of the State of New York, and the Public Service Commission; and the right to charge or not charge the double fare see-sawed between court decisions.

   The BRT made its case as such: because the railroads were originally chartered as steam railroads under the General Railroad Act of 1850, and by the original charters were allowed to collect additional fares upon train exiting the old "City limits" (of Brooklyn), they could charge zoned fares up to 3 cents per mile in addition to the 5 cent fare. It was not until 1890 a new railroad law was enacted as Chapter 252 of the Laws of 1884, that "no corporation constructing or operating a railroad under these provisions shall charge any passenger more than 5 cents for a continuous ride", and the lines that the BRT were charging the double fare on, pre-existed this law. It is noted in those cases where a company incorporated as streetcar operation could not charge this double fare; despite the fact that many of the steam railroads were converted to electricity and now operating streetcars! 
Several lines originating in downtown Brooklyn and ending at North Beach or Flushing in Queens similarly collected double fares, one line even subject to a triple fare.

   The first round went to the passengers - in a lawsuit filed by ex-State Senator Peter H. McNulty and heard by Justice Dickey; found the double fare illegal. But Justice Dickey did not grant the requested injunction. Instead, he advised the proper course of action was to have the Attorney General to annul the BRT charter. So the BRT kept on charging the double fare and filed an appeal. To which it was granted relief and still continued to collect the ten cent fare. Another lawsuit brought, wound its way to the Appellate Court again, where Justice Gaynor (who was to become Mayor of New York City) once again found the double fare was illegal. But, again no injunction.

   By now, July 2, 1904, things
really came to a head: the public interpreted the latest Appellate Court decision, that the 10 cent fare really was illegal; no ifs, ands or buts. The BRT however did not see it that way, and since they had not been ordered not to collect it, they were going to continue to collect it; willingly, or forcefully if required. Their interpretation was that it was only the "opinion" of the Justice. The BRT responded by hiring and employing "Inspectors", or as called by the newspapers "bouncers". But by their despicable actions you are about to read, and in any other definition; equates to hired goons, thugs or arm breakers.

   These "Inspectors" are described as large men, known for their brawn and not so much for their finesse.

   Another factor that cropped up, was the BRT "Special Police" formed a cordon around the cars that the "Inspectors boarded", and prevented newspapermen from interviewing the passengers. These "Inspectors" and "Special Police" were somehow authorized to wear badges to make them look more authoritative.

   So, the BRT kept on trying to collect the extra fare, and the more resolute of those passengers refused to pay, citing that recent court ruling.

Culver Line - Gravesend Neck Road

   On the Culver Line, these extra fares were collected by conductors on board the cars. The conductors "first request" began at Kings Highway and Gravesend Avenue (now McDonald Avenue).

The next stop after Kings Highway was Avenue U. The conductor would come through the car again, requesting the extra fare. By now some paid, but the more stalwart passengers refused. The next stop was Gravesend Neck Road (or "Neck Road" for short). Here, the "Inspectors" boarded the car at this stop. The conductor would come through the car again, requesting the extra fare. But now, when a passenger refused the to pay the extra fare, the conductor pointed at you; and an Inspector (or two or three) took position in front of you. You were now ordered to pay; brusquely and one time only, by some huge guy with a protruding forehead, heavy eyebrows, no neck, broad shoulders and hairy knuckles (and of whom was maybe one generation advanced from Cro-Magnon): "Pay! Or Get Off!" 

If you refused to pay at this point; you were physically picked up by a couple of these "Inspectors"; and dragged, carried, pushed, shoved and / or thrown off the car. Some of the more brutal of these "Inspectors" stood at the top step of the trolley car and tossed you off. If you didn't land on your feet, oh well; it wasn't their problem - you didn't pay your fare.
   Without any room for doubt, these "Inspectors" were very enthusiastic about their work; as e
ntire car loads of passengers were displaced by force. Even women were equally manhandled and thrown to the ground, with or without husbands or escorts; even those holding children, including mothers and grandmothers. Anyone that refused to pay were literally and physically thrown off. And a lot of people were getting hurt. Seriously hurt. One woman, the wife of the engineer of the Coney Island Water Works; suffered a broken clavicle, broken knee cap and other internal injuries after being physically picked up and thrown to the pavement; she was not expected to live. These were not one or two isolated cases; it was taking place on every car, almost every day. These incidents seem to pick up in the summer months when people were flocking to Coney Island for the summer.

     The BRT "Special Policemen"; who after the "Inspectors" got you off the car; arrested you for not payment and dragged you to the local police station. Until this point, the Police Department of the City of New York pretty much were hands off, until a passenger actually tried to defend themselves and fight back. Then that person was arrested for breaking the peace, disorderly conduct, trespassing or battery.

   But, that aside; the NYPD seemed to take the side of the BRT. Tammany Hall was still at the height of its power. Some lower echelon precinct lieutenants stepped in and would try to prevent the "Inspectors" from physical altercations, but these officers were usually reprimand by the captain and reassigned. It would not be until the Deputy Commissioner arrived on scene several hours later to issue orders for members of NYPD to stop all acts of violence, no matter who initiated it.

Sea Beach Line - at the Coney Island Terminal

   On the Sea Beach Line (also a surface railroad) things were a little different. Passengers were still required to purchase the extra fare on the train at the Twenty-second Avenue Station. If you did pay your extra fare, the conductor issued you a ticket. But if you refused, no "Inspectors" boarded like on the Culver Line. When the train arrived at the Sea Beach / West End / Stillwell Terminal, the car or train pulled into one of  the platforms and you disembarked. But before you actually entered the station structure, you encountered a gate and the attending gatemen standing next to a ticket chopper box. If you paid your extra fare on the train, you gave him you ticket and you were permitted into the station to exit to the street.

   But if you did not have a extra fare ticket, you were instructed to buy one. If you refused here, an "Inspector" escorted you to the holding pen. 
Usually, by force.  At the height of the protests (1904 - 1906); the holding pen at times would have 100-150 people in it, standing room only, refusing to pay.

One of two things happened here: those less patient and the more wavering of the protesters paid up their extra 5 cent fare, and were released from "holding pen" into the station and free to leave to the street. The more steadfast passengers would be taken to the local police station, arrested, then released to appear before a magistrate to plead their case against the extra 5 cent fare.

   Another lawsuit, another decision. On August 12, 1906, Justice Gaynor of the Appellate Court ruled against the BRT, but again did not file an injunction preventing the BRT from collecting the extra five cents. Once again, the BRT refused to cease collecting the extra fare stating it was merely the opinion of the Justice. Borough President Bird S. Coler who was riding in one of the cars, and of whom was refusing to pay. He was put off, was but not before his wife was manhandled by the "Inspector".

The day of August 12, 1906 was the worst of the worst. I'll let the following New York Times and Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper articles published on the following day tell it:



The Only Known Images...

   As we are too aware, images from this era are few and far between. As you can imagine, any photography about this time was rare occurrence and what did occur, was almost always posed / portraiture due to the exposure times necessary. "Action" photography was almost unheard of.

   To the best of my research thus far, what follows are the only existing images of the "BRT Double Fare Riots". None seem to have been published in any of the Brooklyn or New York City newspapers of that time that carried coverage. And as I have noted before, this was the worst day - these riots took place on other days since 1900
when the double fare was instituted, and usually right after the courts ruled in favor of the passenger.

   We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Bob Singleton of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, who was generous enough to send first generation scans of the postcard set. Reuse / reposting is prohibited without the express consent of the Mr. Singleton and the 
GAHS. I had the courtesy to ask and went through the effort, and so should you.

   This series of photos were taken by an unidentified photographer (possibly Edwin Levick; a historical photographer of the era) who positioned himself in the second story window of the "Hubbard House" at the southwest corner of Gravesend Avenue (present McDonald Avenue) and Gravesend Neck Road.  

   This series of images were then reproduced on a set of "real photo postcards" (or "RPPC's) and are extremely rare and highly collectible. There are about 19 or 20 images in the set; but I have only posted the best representations of that days events, and of which are shown here. Due to their age, they have been adjusted for contrast.

Passengers refusing to pay the extra 5 cent fare to Coney Island being displaced from Union Street car. Note the blur of a tussle at the front end of the car.

Note the Fifth Avenue Elevated cars behind the Reid Avenue car.


all images above courtesy of Greater Astoria Historical Society - reuse prohibited without express permission of GAHS

   On August 18th, Justice Gaynor repeated that the collection of 10 cent fare was illegal, but advised the public to submit and temporarily pay the 10 cents until the Attorney General could hear the case. Now the BRT said the Attorney General didn't have the authority to hear the case, but drew up rebate checks if the fare was found to be illegal.

   The case against the double fare dragged onwards and upwards; on January 9, 1907 Judge Haight of the New York State Court of Appeals ruled the 10 cent fare was legal. Through to the Public Service Commission, who finally ruled on March 9, 1910 that the 10 cent fare to and from Coney Island was not unfair; so in essence, the BRT won.

The BRT would go to pay the medical bills of some of the more seriously injured passengers. It offered some experimental fare breaks on elevated lines to Coney Island, such as offering a 10 cent round trip from August 1 through October 1. But this peace offering was made with with fingers crossed behind the back: the Coney Island bound ticket was only good from 6:00 to 9:00 am and the return trip only valid 2:00 to 4:30 pm, on the same day. To reiterate, Coney Island was a resort at this time. Many people stayed overnight or even two nights in a hotel. So in most cases, the return trip was useless, unless of course you were now willing to make is a 1/2 day excursion.

   Then the BRT offered 5 cent fares on its surface lines, but you had to take three different cars: Eastbound passengers on the 65th Street and Bay Ridge Lines could transfer free at Thirteenth Avenue and 86th Street car, and take that to the 39th Street Ferry Line of the Nassau Electric RR Co. (which was another company held by the BRT!) which would carry them to Coney Island. Westbound passengers would have to board the Nassau Electric RR Co.'s 39th Street Ferry Line to Bay 39th Street and Ulmer Park, transfer to the 65th Street and Bay Ridge Line of the BRT. Incidentally, neither of these routes fell upon the Culver or Sea Beach routes. And these exact same routes existed before and during the August riots.

   No true solution would be found. The BRT would continue to charge 10 cents for the Coney Island bound cars on the Culver & Sea Beach lines. It was only once the Culver Elevated was completed to the Stillwell Depot on May 1, 1920, that collection of the double fare was abolished.

BRT may have won the battle, but it lost the war.

   And finally, the Coney Island 10 cent fare war was truly over. Ironically, a year and a half earlier, on December 31, 1918; the BRT filed for bankruptcy. Between its bad reputation over the double fare riots and over extension of resources into subway construction and management, it was no longer financially solvent. Its reorganization into Brooklyn Manhattan Transit was finalized with new officers on June 15, 1923.

   The BMT, by charter of the Dual Contracts and by Mayor John Francis Hylan's influence of office (1/1/1918-12/31/25) could charge no more than 5 cent fare for subways.

   Mayor John F. Hylan was a very strong proponent for the 5 cent fare. His direct involvement beginning in 1921 ensured that following the BRT bankruptcy and reorganization into Brooklyn Manhattan Transit, the 10 cent fares to Coney Island and Queens would not be repeated.  While this was commendable from a city resident / passenger standpoint, it did fail to take into consideration the effect of inflation.

   In 1932, the City of New York, created built and opened the IND Subway, maintaining the 5 cent fare edict; while the privately owned BRT and IRT, still forced by the Dual Contracts to hold their fares at 5 cents were once again swimming in deficit. Each time these companies went to the Public Service Commission for a fare raise, it was denied.  It took nearly 25 years for the IRT to develop financial problems. A lawsuit to raise the fare to 7 or 8 cents was long fought and eventually lost by the IRT at the Supreme Court level, but not before several million nice IRT tokens were minted in anticipation of that fare raise, only to remain in storage when it was denied.  

   Nobody likes paying more for a product, especially so since it had been cheap for so long, but forcing the 5 cent fare to remain in effect, while the cost of operations and labor rose; was undeniably poor fiscal judgment.

   For at least a decade, the fare was locked at 5 cents and one can only tighten the belt so much, before you must reduce service, not give raises, layoff employees, close underutilized lines, and delay maintenance on equipment etc.

   The City operated the IND, which for all intents and purposes was a rapid transit (subway / elevated) only operation. Bus operations were franchised out to private companies alleviating the IND from that responsibility. Furthermore, the city could raise taxes, franchise rates or transfer budget surpluses and finances from other departments to the subway operation. Robbing Peter to pay Paul so to say.

   The IRT and the BMT were not only operating rapid transit services, but surface transit operations as well. And they did not have the benefit of other non-transit operations to redirect finances to their transit operations, not to mention in continuing to pay dividends to their stock holders. This added to the expense side of their ledgers.

  Also around this time, many of the elevated lines became redundant with subway or bus lines, so down they came. One by one, the elevated lines in Manhattan, which were considered noisy and an eyesore; were eventually all demolished. For Manhattan to develop into the metropolis of the late 20th Century, those elevated lines that had been built in the 1880s needed to go, and between 1930 and 1940; most did.

   By 1940, the two private subway operators and dozens of traction companies were struggling and entering receivership. Thus, it was also the time of the "First Unification". 


First Unification: The Board of Transportation - 1940



   Any fiscal item that bears the legend: "City of New York, Board of Transportation, New York City Transit SYSTEM", is from this era of operation: 1940 through 1953.

   The City of New York - Board of Transportation - New York City Transit System or "BOT" was originally created in 1922 to plan, build and operate the City owned subway interests, of which it constructed the IND Subway - Eighth Avenue Line. At this time it was known as the Independent City-Owned Subway System "ICOS", or the less popularly known "ISS" which stood for Independent Subway System. There are even references to it as Independent City-Owned Rapid Transit Railroad.

   This line however would not open to service until September 10, 1932, and additional extensions to this line as well would open frequently after, but the next trunk line (Sixth Avenue) would open in 1936 and gradually be extended. While the IND was enjoying a modicum of success, the IRT and BMT, and the myriad of surface lines not owned by the City of New York began showing signs of struggle.

   These struggling private transit "interests" after having been limited to the 5 cent fare agreement under the Dual Contracts, were slowly starving. Upon their filing bankruptcy, they were taken over by a receiver.

   The ultimate goal was to get the bankrupt transit operations into the hands of the Board of Transportation. Once there, the bankrupt operations would be merged with and unified into the BOT and this took place on June 1, 1940. On this day, in one fell swoop, this solved most if not all of the issues regarding competitive subway operations in the City of New York. The subways were under the control of a single entity.
It was at this time, the very popular and still used moniker was coined: the "IND" for INDependent Subway System.

   For the next two years, the City of New York, through the BOT; financed long needed repairs, improvements and ordered new rolling stock to replace pre-war equipment. But this period of investment would be short lived.
 With the entrance of the United States into World War II in December 1941, and with it; the subsequent rationing of materials, what with raw materials shifted to war production needs, men drafted into service and other war effort occupations; all construction ceased on projects already underway and future plans put on indefinite hold.

   Despite this, transit operations in New York City did well financially, assisted greatly by the rationing of tires, gasoline, and lubricating oil. As the private automobile became a burden during these times, not so much out of cost, but the lack of materials and replacement parts. Gasoline, tires, oil: everything was geared now for the war effort.
 This pushed the city population to utilize mass transit. The transit operators saw profits, and did well.

   With most of the population of New York City pretty much stuck at home with little gasoline and four bald tires, there was no better place for respite and "seashore therapy" of which existed at the beaches located around the City: Coney Island, Brighton, Manhattan, Orchard, Pelham Bay Park, Rockaway, Jacob Riis Park & Beach. If you took the ferry over to Staten Island, South and Midland beaches were there too. And the city transit system was there to take them on their journey.

   But wars don't last forever. The war may have ended in 1945, but getting supplies to the civilian projects back up to speed took a while. Beginning in 1947, the Board of Transportation found itself slowly acquiring bus operators in Staten Island, Queens and Manhattan that could no longer afford to operate. None of the companies could operate on the mandated five cent fare, and the equipment they had; which had been kept running through the war era on spit and baling wire repairs were in desperate need of replacement. So, they filed for bankruptcy. This slowly gave the City control of the majority of surface transit operations.

   With these increased operations, came financial expenditures. The BOT posted it first operational deficit in 1947 in the amount of $18,000,000. Another victim of cost cutting measures, was scrapping of the duplicitous elevated lines which actually started before the war, and with the war the steel structures became prized.

   A fare increase was proposed to alleviate the mounting debt that was due to post-war inflation; as well as expenditures for acquiring new rolling stock to replace the now dilapidated existing equipment; the repair of existing infrastructure that maintenance of had been deferred due to lack of labor and materiél that had been needed for the military; as well as the planning for and expansion of existing services and routes.

The first of many - a raise in fare to 10 cents

   On March 30, 1948, Governor Thomas E. Dewey signed legislation allowing the Board of Transportation to increase fares.

   This was subject to the approval of the Mayor William O'Dwyer, of whom granted his consent and on July 1.  So, the Board of Transportation immediately began to make the necessary changed to the turnstiles to accept dimes.

   On Thursday, July 1, 1948 the fare was officially 10 cents. The nickel subway fare and of which had been in place since October 27, 1904 - a period of 45 years - and a provision of the Dual Contracts; was no more. 
But remember - the elevateds were ten cents back in the 1880's, so this was not the first time mass transit fares were a dime.

   Equally as notable was that the City of New York was the last major metropolitan transit system to charge 5 cents - all other major cities had since raised their fares.

   It must also be kept in mind, the fare only went to 10 cents on the subways and elevateds - the fare was "only" raised to 7 cents on the buses and trolleys.

   The Board of Transportation also instituted some changes to help offset the raise in fare, such as low cost inter-system transfers from rapid transit operations to surface operations and vice versa.

   These were the small format tickets purchased for 2 cents allowing transfer from rapid transit to the surface lines, or purchased for 5 cents from the surface lines to rapid transit.
Rapid Transit to Surface Line

Surface Line to Rapid Transit

   Once again, the New York Times digital archives furnished the following coverage, seen at right.

   Also the BOT created fourteen free transfer points between the formerly separate subway operating divisions.

   On January 1, 1950; the fare on the surface lines (trolleys & buses) was raised to 10 cents to match its rapid transit counterparts, making for a uniform 10 cent fare on rapid transit and surface operations.   

   While this fare raise helped the fiscal situation, but its effects were not long lived as it was hoped. With the Second World War over and
thanks to post war prosperity, "a chicken in every pot and an automobile in every garage" was becoming a reality. John Q. Public could now afford the modern conveniences, such as an automobile, and travel trailers.

   Little stood in the way to stem the tide of transit users that were leaving the system to purchase these automobiles and with it, they were now also moving out to the suburbia where the subways did not reach.

   With this new found freedom, day trips to the beach resorts at Coney Island or Orchard Beach, were replaced with trips to farther destinations: the eastern shores of Long Island, Upstate New York, or even other states.

   The city residents on vacation no longer had to settle for the day at the beach - it was now a day in the mountains for fishing or camping, or visiting relations in other states and stopping at the landmarks along the journey. These were places the subways and buses couldn't take them.

   On July 1, 1952, the inter-system transfers were eliminated, forcing transit users back to a two fare system when using rapid transit and surface transit.

      Even these changes did little ameliorate the growing financial debts of the Board of Transportation. And like pouring salt into and open wound, the Board of Transportation was also the subject of increased criticism due to the influence of City politics, including the direct control of the Mayor, and the use of the City's operating budget in other areas to subsidize transit operations.

Second Unification: The Transit Authority - 1953



   The major goal of the formation of the NYCTA was to remove transit policy; and especially so, the setting of the transit fare; from the politics of City of New York. 

   In March 1953, the New York State Legislature created the New York City Transit Authority: a public benefit corporation without direct control from any one political office. Members were appointed by both the State and the City. Governor Dewey sign the bill on March 20, 1953. The New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) took control on June 15, 1953,
with the Board of Transportation - New York City Transit System being abolished.

   The 15 cent fare was not an "original idea" of the NYCTA, but had been proposed by the Board of Transportation many months before. But, by nature of its charter and a guaranteed 5 cent fare; the Board of Transportation did not have the authority to raise the fare without consent of the City of New York; specifically the Mayors office. With the approval of the New York State Legislature, the dissolution of the Board of Transportation and the creation of the NYCTA removed that obstacle.

This 1953 re-organization is also known as the Second Unification. One of the the first things this new organization announced was a raise in fare, which was absolutely necessary to get the transit system back on a profitable, or at the least; a break even status; and be able to update the infrastructure.

   On July 25, 1953, the NYCTA fare was raised to 15 cents for rapid transit, and thus the first token was issued by the NYCTA - the 16.5mm (slightly smaller than a dime) solid Y. This token issue was necessary because the turnstiles were more easily adapted to accept a single coin, than to take multiple size coins (i.e: a nickel and a dime or three nickels). I also reiterate again: this was not the first token used in the transit system, but the first token issued by NYCTA.

   With this second unification; there was also a consolidation of a great deal of the surface lines (some of which were still electrically powered streetcars), but operationally they remained as subdivisions (Brooklyn & Queens Transit, South Brooklyn Railway, Brooklyn Bus Co. among others) while others had been converted to bus routes.

   On top of this however, several transportation companies continued to operate bus franchise routes within the five boroughs, and remained independent of; or a subsidiary to the City administration. But we'll get to these private bus operators in a bit.

   Furthermore, Staten Island operations of both rapid transit lines and its surface lines were privately owned and not part of the NYCTA for a quite while after this due to the isolated nature of Staten Island. Staten Island Rapid Transit remained under Baltimore & Ohio Railroad parentage which itself was owned in part by the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Staten Island Rapid Transit would not come under the NYCTA umbrella until 1971. The surface lines on Staten Island would be operated by private franchise.

   Also, while it is generally accepted the the NYCTA had a unified fare structure, it did not. Throughout its history, it charged special fares and offered premium fare services: Aqueduct Racetrack Special, JFK Express, Express Bus Services both within and between Manhattan and outer boroughs.

   Also during this era, the last electrically powered streetcars in Brooklyn ceased operation on October 31, 1956, and on April 6, 1957 between Manhattan and Welfare (Roosevelt) Island and were
replaced with internal combustion powered buses. (The Bronx was one step ahead of this with the last trolley / streetcar being run on August 21, 1948.)

   In regard to "regular" fare service, the NYCTA 
charged a 5 cent extra fare on the Q44 bus line utilizing the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, and charged a double fare on it trains between Howard Beach and the Rockaways, which will be discussed in the following chapter.

Rockaway Double Fare - June 28, 1956 - September 1, 1975


June 28, 1956 - July 4, 1966:
15¢ regular fare / 30¢ Rockaway fare
July 5, 1966 - December 31, 1971
20¢ regular fare / 40¢ Rockaway fare
January 1, 1972 - September 2, 1975
35¢ regular fare / 70¢ Rockaway fare
Rockaway Refund Ticket

   The Rockaway Beach Line was unique to the single fare rule on rapid transit lines
for regular service.

   This line was purchased for $8,500,000 from the Long Island Railroad after several wood trestle fires. It was rebuilt at a cost of $57,000,000 with fill and concrete trestles and connected to the IND Subway at Howard Beach Station. It opened June 28, 1956 and charged an extra token.

Originally as proposed on February 16, 1956, it was supposed to be a 40 cent fare each way: 15 cents for the regular subway, and an additional 25 cents to be collected at Broad Channel.

   This would be the first time since the abolition of the BRT / BMT Coney Island Double Fare on May 1, 1920; that a zoned fare would be used for rapid transit lines.

   There was sufficient outrage at this (considering it would cost 80 cents round trip for Rockaway residents, of which at the time a good portion of Rockaway was lower income) was in no doubt justified. On March 30, 1956, the NYCTA relented to a degree and reduced the fare to 30 cents each way.

   Outrage still remained and a lawsuit filed, but on June 15, 1956; Supreme Court (New York) Justice Schwartzwald found in favor of the NYCTA, adding that the LIRR fare to the Rockaways was more. Fortunately, this quelled most dissent, and there was not to be a repeat of the "Double Fare War" like that seen on the route to Coney Island.

   Passengers using this route:   lines, were charged a double fare south of the Howard Beach Station. The manner of collecting this extra fare entailed the following: were charged a double fare south of the Howard Beach Station, which entailed the deposit of two tokens for those entering along the line between the Howard Beach Station and any of the stations south of that point. For those already on board a southbound train from other parts of the system an additional token was payable upon exit at stations south of Howard Beach..

   For those passengers traveling only within the double-fare zone (between the Rockaways and Howard Beach Station) would request a special "refund ticket", entitling them to a refund upon exiting the system, either in cash or a token.

This double fare was quite unpopular, but things remained status quo for the July 5, 1969 raise in fare to 20¢ (40¢ for Rockaway Service). But following the January 1, 1972 raise in regular fare to 35¢ (and now 70¢ for Rockaway Service); the matter was revisited following another lawsuit. The NYCTA conducted a study that showed due to the increased population now residing in the Rockaways, lowering the fare to regular amount would not incur any undue loss of revenue, but the double fare would not be abolished until September 1, 1975; of which coincided with a system-wide fare increase to 50¢; as well as an increase in tolls on the Cross Bay Bridge and Marine Parkway Bridges.

   As for subway to bus transfers. it would not be until the introduction of the MetroCard Gold that a fare paying passenger within New York City would be able to transfer from subway routes to bus routes, or vice versa; or be allowed to take multiple buses on their journey, without having to pay a second or even third fare.

   For the sake of history, the NYCTA was to become an "affiliate agency" of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1965, and the Long Island Rail Road would be come a subsidiary agencies of the MTA in 1965, as did MetroNorth Commuter Railroad in 1971.

Exact Fare - August 31, 1969


   By 1966, a new problem surfaced - the armed robbery of bus drivers. A robber or two would board, brandish a knife or gun, and relieve the driver of his change maker and the change within the farebox.

   Remember, at this time, the driver had access to the change to replenish his change maker or to empty the farebox at the end of the route. When aggregated at the end of a shift, meant the fareboxes could hold a few hundred dollars.

   Until this point, the issue was isolated to maybe two or three drivers getting robbed a year. But with the 1960's, crime exploded.
The New York Times reports 56 driver robberies in 1966, 97 in 1967, 244 in 1968 and 356 in 1969.

   As the result of this, Johnson / Keene Farebox introduced their next model, with an enclosed pedestal and a two key lockable drawer that acted as a vault. (see the chapter on Coins & Tokens as General Fare Media - Surface Fare Boxes for further information and images.)

   On August 31, 1969, bus drivers were relieved of the responsibility of making change, and buses went to exact fare only.     


2005: the "Third Unification" - the Queens private franchise bus lines finally fall under the MTA umbrella

   For this chapter, it is first necessary to understand the history of private bus lines in New York City. And for that we have to return once again to the beginning of transportation history in New York City so let us turn back the clock 178 years.

Where it all started - in Manhattan in 1827

   If one needed to travel more than a few blocks or farther than convenient walking distance, a horse drawn omnibus or stage was the optimal answer for travel.

   Omnibuses were the predominate means of mass transit within the developed areas of Manhattan (and even through the rural areas).

   They were convenient for both those who could not afford a horsedrawn carriage of their own, or for those that could; not have the time at that particular moment
to go to the stable, mount the riding tack (saddle) for direct riding on the horse; or mount the harness to the horse(s) to attach the carriage, etc.

   One reference source cites the first known stage line was introduced in 1827 by Abraham Brower. The route was along Broadway between Bowling Green and Bleecker and Prince Streets in front of Niblo's Garden, a popular theater of the era.

   With some very tedious and in-depth research, of the New York Times (then called the New York Daily Times); I was able to ascertain fare for this first stage line: 12½
cents per passenger; remember - back in this era, the United States circulated a half cent coin.

   The first street railway - The New York and Harlem Railroad; was incorporated in 1831 and opened for service with a route from Prince Street eventually extending to Harlem Bridge in 1837 (and eventually beyond).

image courtesy of Shorpy Photo Archives
   Fares were originally 18¾ cents to Yorkville and 20 cents to Harlem.
This 18¾ cent fare is interesting in itself, as the US did not circulate a ¾ cent coin; so how payment of this fraction of a cent is not clear. Round trip would equal 37½ cents, so was this fare extrapolated from half a round trip fare?

   Whichever and whomever it was, and ever since then, the City Council and the Board of Aldermen, would award out contracts for additional Manhattan surface routes, upon being requested by an enterprise wishing to get into the transportation scene.
   By 1855, there were now 593 omnibuses traveling on twenty-seven routes throughout Manhattan; and horse-drawn cars running on street railways on Third, Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth Avenues, and by 1859, the average fare was 6 cents on major routes and 3 or 4 cents on minor routes.

   In 1900, omnibus operators were still plying the routes as granted, whether it be the main north - south arterial avenues, crosstown streets, or connecting with steam ferry services crossing Upper New York Bay, the Hudson and the East Rivers.

   Also around this time, 1901 to be exact; the City Charter was amended and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment was created. This office would bear the authority in issuing the necessary Certificates of Convenience and Necessity to operate a surface transportation company whether it be on rails or tires.

   Horse drawn vehicles gave way to electric or gasoline powered vehicles, just about the same time the first subway was built and opened in 1904.

   The first successful motor bus route began operation in Manhattan in 1905, when the Fifth Avenue Coach purchase a fleet of fifteen DeDion buses manufactured in France; and rapidly followed by 132 more; followed by buses built by the English manufacturer Daimler.

   In the image at right, dated July 10, 1913 and courtesy of Shorpy Historical Photo Archives; we see a Daimler double decker bus on the left (with right hand drive!) and original DeDion - Bouton (with left hand drive) on right.

   Note the snazzy bulb type brass trumpet horn on the DeDion! Pay particular note to the sign board on the side under the windows: FARE TEN CENTS.

   Now, it has long been said the Fiorello LaGuardia and Robert Moses were the impetus behind the destruction of New York's streetcars & trolley system. I have long believed this to be as well.

   While they certainly did not help the survival of the traction interests in the least, and were certainly among the final people to drive the nail into the coffin for streetcars; as we see from this New York Times article dated August 28, 1924 and seen below; there was a call for a network of buses that early to replace the trolleys, and before Mssrs. LaGuardia or Moses came to power - 10 years before to be exact.

   And as can be read, many motor coach companies were lining up behind the idea.

image courtesy of Shorpy Photo Archives

   Also worth noting is the dual fare system: 5 and 10 cents.
While Mayor Hylan immediately rejected the idea of 10 cent fares upon this proposal; by October 11th, he no longer stood in opposition for 10 cent bus fares in the Bronx. (You may click on the image below for a larger and easier to read version.)

   By this time, the existing private bus operators that held franchises via the New York City Board of Estimate to operate surface transportation, paid 2% percent of their gross revenues to the City for the privilege of operating these routes, and had to purchase all their own equipment, pay for upkeep of same, maintenance and property taxes for their facilities. There were many private companies and the 2% was lucrative to the City budget, and without the City having to get their hands "dirty" operating a massive fleet of buses.

   It was in no time at all that Manhattan and the Bronx would have several independent bus operators, such as: 
  • New York City Omnibus
  • East Side Omnibus
  • Comprehensive Omnibus
  • Eighth Avenue Coach
  • Fifth Avenue Coach
  • Third Avenue Lines
  • Madison Avenue Coach
  • Avenue B & East Broadway
   Some of these operators had reciprocity transfer agreements with the NYCTA and others did not. The Borough of Queens was not too far behind Manhattan, and frankly may have surpassed Manhattan; in regards to the number of private bus companies in operation, but we will get to Queens in a bit. 

   Despite the IRT and BMT subways being unified with the City of New York subway operations after 1940; and the unilateral rapid transit fare set at a nickel; private bus operators still charged ten cents. Upon the 1948 rise to ten cent fares for subways and elevateds, the surface bus operators in Manhattan requested a 15 cent fare. This was immediately denied, and it took numerous lawsuits and appeals for a fare rise to happen, and eventually the private bus lines were allowed to charge a higher fare at 11 cents, with Fifth Avenue Coach at 12 cents, and seemed to always getting a premium fare over other operators.

   By this point in time, the private bus operators paid 3% percent of their gross revenues to the City for the privilege of operating these routes, and as before; had to purchase their own rolling stock, be wholly responsible maintenance as well as support structures and properties such as garages, storage yards, etc..

   On August 21, 1948, the last electric streetcar lines in the Bronx and Manhattan had been converted to internal combustion powered buses.
 On September 24, 1948, the City took over the first of the Manhattan surface operators: East Side Omnibus and Comprehensive Omnibus. Then a year or two later, it was back to square one in regards to a fare raise. The private companies would announce their need to raise the fares to 15 cents. By March 1951, Fifth Avenue made it third request for a 15 cent fare. 

   The Board of Estimate would deny it, and they would counter with filing a lawsuit. And the result? They would settle at 13 cents. And at the same time they also wanted to charge a few more cents for transfers, or abolish transfers entirely. Fifth Avenue Coach was the most litigious. Cases dragged out for years in the courts

   By 1954; Fifth Avenue Coach (now operating routes in Manhattan and Queens); and Surface Transportation (operating routes in Manhattan and the Bronx), the fares were 15 cents. In 1958, they were granted permission to raise the charge to 3 cents for transfers. The alternative put forth by Fifth Avenue was to abolish transfers completely.

   By 1960, the City of New York itself was still only operating but a few routes in Manhattan - almost all of them downtown; with the big players still being Fifth Avenue Coach and Surface Transit Corp (a subsidiary of Fifth Avenue Coach now) of which operated almost all of the Manhattan and Bronx Routes. A small company, Avenue B & East Broadway Transportation operated on the East Side.

   After Fifth Avenue and Surface Transit went on strike on January 1, 1962, and following the strike; transfers were eliminated as a financial relief . They went out on strike again in March after a layoff of personnel. Mayor Wagner had enough. The City of New York condemned their assets, nullified the franchise, and seized the buses on March 22. Within 48 hours, 80% of the routes were back to normal. The last two idle routes resumed service on June 30.

   The City also created a new operating agency as a subsidiary of the Transit Authority: the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority or MaBSTOA. MaBSTOA would go on to operate the bus routes north of Midtown. By 1966, MaBSTOA was operating:
  • 28 routes in Manhattan, 23 of those being north-south routes;
  • 43 routes in the Bronx, and,
  • 3 routes in Queens: Jackson Heights to Washington Square, 125th Street to Astoria and the Elmhurst Crosstown
   Surprisingly, as of July 5, 1966 when the fare on the subways rose to 20 cents, MaBSTOA remained at 15 cents. It would be twenty days later, that the fare was raised on MaBSTOA. Now the City of New York could claim fare parity between its surface fares and its rapid transit fares!

   The Avenue B & East Broadway Transit was eventually absorbed into MaBSTOA in 1980. But a year later, the MTA decided to merge MaBSTOA and NYCTS Surface Division into a single entity: MTA New York City Bus.


   Brooklyn had the least amount of private bus line operators. Whomever they were, had mostly been consolidated by the BMT throughout the 1920's and 1930's. The bus subsidiary of the BMT was the Brooklyn Bus Corp.

   Research reflects only one private bus operator was known after the First and Second Unifications: this being Pioneer Bus. Pioneer Bus would be replaced by Command Bus in 1979

the Bronx
   Excepting those operations of MaBSTOA, there were two listed private bus lines operating in the Bronx in May of 2004:
Liberty Lines; operating in western and central Bronx with seven Express Bus routes, and
New York Bus Service in eastern Bronx operating six Express Bus routes.

   Neither of these operators had any local routes.


Richmond / Staten Island:
   Had but a few bus franchises as well. In 1925, the Tompkins Bus Co. was formed, and was awarded a franchise to operate gasoline buses on Staten Island. Buses replaced the Department of Plant and Structures streetcar and trolleybus routes, and new bus routes were formed serving previously unserved areas.

   In 1927, the Richmond Light & Railroad Co. was renamed to Richmond Railways. In 1933, the subsidiary; Staten Island Coach Co. was formed and to began operating buses, which gradually replaced the Richmond Railways streetcar routes. The two separate bus systems continued to operate until 1937, when the Staten Island Coach Co. began operating the Tompkins Bus Co. routes.

   The Staten Island Coach Co. went out of business in 1946, and the Isle Transportation Co., a company organized by several former Staten Island Coach Co. employees, briefly began operating the buses on Staten Island. However, the Isle Transportation Co. did not last long, itself going bankrupt in 1947, and the city took over the buses on February 23 of that year.

   This was the first city-operated bus service (other than the Williamsburg Bridge line, which retained city operation under the Board of Transportation) after the end of the Department of Plant and Structures.


   This leads us to private bus operations in Queens. [sigh]

   I have been dreading getting to this chapter knowing how convoluted it was, and how much research it would take to get everything just so.

   Queens is a rather large borough, (the largest of the five at 109 square miles) and for some strange reason; it still retains to this day a segmented sense of geographical areas: Jamaica, Flushing, Long Island City, Astoria, etcetera. You didn't "go" to Queens. You might "went" to Brooklyn (the only exception to this, was "going to Coney Island"), or you "went" to Staten Island, or you "went" to the Bronx. But if you were going somewhere in Queens, you specified the area: "I'm going to Long Island City", "I need to go to Corona", "I have to take the Ferry in Astoria", or I need to catch the train in Jamaica".

   So, due to its size, and prior to 1930; there were many bus routes were operated by various independent operators. T
here were about two dozen private bus operators in the Borough of Queens at this time:

Affiliated Bus Transit
Courier Bus

Flushing Heights Bus

Green Bus Lines

Jamaica Buses

Kings Coach
Liberty Bus Lines

Long Island Coach

Ludwig Bilow
Midland Coach
Municipal  Motorbus
National City Bus Lines

New York Bus

North Shore Bus

Queens Auto Traction

Queens - Nassau Transit
Richmond Hill Bus

Ruoff Brothers

S & C Bus
Steinway Omnibus

Schenck Transportation

Triboro Coach

Z & M Coach

   But, and very frankly; service in the beginning was haphazard and deemed inefficient.

   So inefficient is seems, that a few early bus routes were temporarily operated under supervision by the New York City Department of Plant & Structures (DP&S) as the "Emergency Bus System" which supplied 20 seat buses. These routes were assigned numbers in the order in which they were introduced, in all five boroughs.

   In 1931, to avoid unnecessary duplication of routes between two different carriers, and as not to incur the strong arming of passengers into one carriers' bus over another (much like what had happened in the mid 1800's with the first stage companies); the Board of Estimate proposed dividing Queens into four zones, for bus operating franchise purposes.

   The four zone setup for bus franchises was as follows:

Zone A - western Queens; Woodside, Long Island City, Astoria, Steinway, Jackson Heights
Zone B - northern Queens; Flushing, Bayside, College Point, Whitestone, Douglaston
Zone C - southern Queens; Ozone Park, Howard Beach, and the Rockaways
Zone D - eastern Queens; Jamaica, Hollis, Queens Village

Emergency Bus System -
City of New York - Department of Plants & Structures - 1928
image courtesy of Motor Bus Society

   With this new zone setup, the company submitting the best bid (in regards to both fare prices and perqs - beginning with a maximum 5 cent fare and 2 cent transfer privileges), would be awarded the franchise in each zone. Any remaining smaller operators were to be acquired by the larger company, but the smaller company may continue to operate under their own identity as a subsidiary.

   Obviously, now matter how simple and straightforward a proposal may seem; there was very spirited contention and the usual involvement and grandstanding by various politicians. It would take until 1936 to finalize the Queens Franchise Zones. 

   In 1936 the winning bidders for the zones were as follows:

Zone A - Triboro Bus  Zone B - North Shore Bus Zone C - Green Bus Lines  Zone D - Bee Line, Inc.

    However, the City of New York with Mayor LaGuardia now holding office, vehemently contested the winning bidder of Zone D, that being Bee Line; with accusations of being an illegal operator. So lawsuits, counter-lawsuits and appeals followed over the next year or so. Ultimately, Bee Line was found to be a legal operator; but still chose to leave Queens operations. 
So, North Shore Bus replaced Bee Line for Zone D operations. It should be noted that this Bee Line, Inc entity that operated in Queens (and Nassau County) is not the same Bee Line Bus System operating presently in Westchester County.

With some amendments and revisions over the next decade, this franchise arrangement worked rather decently, not perfectly; but it worked. By 1945, Triboro Bus was granted Zone A - Long Island City; North Shore Bus held the franchise for Zone B - Flushing & Jamaica; and Green Bus for Zone C - the Rockaways as well as Zone D - Jamaica. And some overlapping was now allowed.

   By 1947, just like we saw seven years prior with the subways; the bus operators could no longer afford to operate on the mandated nickel fare. So, just like with the subways, the New York City Board of Transportation took over the operations of Isle Transportation in Staten Island on February 23, and the North Shore Bus in Queens 
on March 30. Those of the private bus companies that could survive, did. Those that could not, fell; either by selling out to larger operators or the City.

   Also throughout this period, the City of New York - Board of Transportation was purchasing new buses to replace the mostly prewar vehicles, which were now so dilapidated as to be a safety hazard. They were also constructing new repair facilities and storage depots. A lot of companies were still using old trolley barns for bus garages dating back to before the turn of the century. By the end of October 1956, streetcar operations in Brooklyn were shutdown, replaced by bus and simplifying that boroughs surface operations.

   For the most part and the next half century, this is where things lay. You had NYCTA surface operations and you had private bus operators with franchise routes in Queens.

   The following information comes from a Ridership Survey and Route Analysis conducted by the New York City Department of Transportation in May 2004. There is quite a bit of interesting information contained within it. It outlines the operators, their routes, with maps(!), equipment rosters and the general fare information listed below. In all frankness, it would much simpler for you the reader to reference directly to this document, than it would be for me to transcribe all the information contained:

New York City Department of Transportation - Queens Bus Ridership Survey & Route Analysis 26

3.10 Fare Structure and Transfer Policy
   Fare and transfer policy for franchised services has been established by New York City Department of Transportation. In most instances, the policy integrates very well with that of MTA-NYCT. Franchised bus carriers do accept MetroCard as fare media to board buses, and transfers are allowed between the private franchised buses and MTA-NYCT buses and subways. The new fareboxes in use on the private carriers are compatible with MetroCard, and are the same as those in use by MTA-NYCT, therefore, cash fares need to be paid with coins. Liberty Lines and New York Bus have Bill Accepting Units attached to their fareboxes, so cash fares can be paid with dollar bills for these companies.

   The fare policy of New York City private franchised buses identifies three different service types in operation, with a fare policy set for each type. These three service types New York City Department of Transportation Bus Ridership Survey and Route Analysis 25 are:
  • Local servicerefers to all local bus routes, and includes local services operated by Command Bus, Green Bus Lines, Jamaica Buses, Queens Surface Corporation, and Triboro Coach.
  • 1-zone express service, are intra-borough express buses such as the B103 of Command Bus, and Liberty Lines Express buses that provide intra-Manhattan service.
  • 2-zone express serviceare the express buses operated by all of the private franchised companies connecting the outer boroughs to Manhattan.
   Table 3-9 provides an overview of fares charged for franchised transit services. The base fare for local service is $1.50. During off-peak hours, cash paying passengers are only charged $1.00 while passengers who use MetroCard are still charged $1.50. Unlimited ride Metrocards are accepted for travel on all local services. NYCT tokens are also valid form of payment, with a value of $1.50. Transfers to other local routes are free, both among and between NYCT routes and NYCDOT routes. If paying with a MetroCard, transfers to subways and express routes (with step-up fare) are also free. All transfers are valid for 2 hours after paying the initial fare. With valid identification, senior citizens and disabled passengers pay half fare. When accompanying a disabled passenger, an attendant may ride for free. Free transportation is also available for up to three children under five years of age. Other people who may ride free on private franchised buses include New York City Police, New York City Fire Marshals, personnel authorized by the carrier and/or New York City Department of Transportation, and letter carriers on certain routes.

   The base fare for 1-zone express services is also $1.50, and the fare policy is similar to local services. The main difference is that there is no off-peak discount, at all times the fare is $1.50. Half fare for senior or disabled passengers does not apply during peak periods. A one-day borough specific pass is available to riders for $3.00 for unlimited rides on 1-zone express buses in that borough. Metro-card (both pay-per-ride and unlimited) as well as NYCT tokens are accepted as payment on all 1-zone express buses. All transfers are accepted on 1-zone express buses, except those issued onboard a route with the same designation. In certain instances an additional “step-up” charge may be charged. Transfers are good for two hours after issuance. Free transportation is available for person authorized by the carrier and/or New York City Department of Transportation as well as a personal care attendant for a paying disabled passenger.

   The base fare charged on 2-zone express services is $3.00. Fares can be paid in cash, with pay-per-ride Metro-Card, as well as express bus unlimited Metro-Cards. NYCT tokens are accepted and count $1.50 towards the fare an all 2-zone express services. Senior citizens and disabled passengers are entitled to ride at half fare ($1.50) during offpeak hours only. Passengers can transfer to any other bus route in New York City within two hours with a MetroCard, except one that is the same route of the original bus. Local and 1-zone transfers are valid for the equivalent of $1.50 onboard a 2-zone express bus. Transfers from NYCT express bus routes are accepted without any additional charge. Student Metro-cards are accepted as $1.50 of the fare aboard a 2-zone express bus. Personal care attendants, as well as persons designated by either New York City Department of Transportation or the individual carrier, may travel free on 2-zone express buses.

Table 3-9: Fare Structure
 Fare Category Local Service 1-zone Express 2-zone Express
Base Fare $1.50 $1.50 $3.00
Off-Peak (Cash Only) $1.00 $1.50 $3.00
Senior Citizen/Disabled $0.75 $1.50 $3.00
Senior Citizen/Disabled (Off-Peak) $0.50 $0.75 $1.50
Children Accompanied by Adult Free Free Free

At the time this survey was completed, NYCTA fares were $2.00.

   Due to rising costs of maintenance, labor, fuel, liability insurance, health insurance and all the other expenditures over these decades; the private operators slowly whittled down to but a few remaining operators. And between the franchise costs and other factors inherent to operating a transportation company, it was becoming a tenuous situation.

And just like that...

   So, in 2005, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority created the MTA Bus Division, to operate in conjunction with MTA New York City Bus Division. Whereas MTA New York City Bus was assigned to operate already existing NYCTA bus routes under the NYCTA; MTA Bus was to acquire all remaining private bus lines still operating throughout the five boroughs on New York City.

   At this point in time, there were seven PBL's remaining: one in the Bronx, one in Brooklyn, six in Queens. They would be taken over by the MTA on a staggered timeline, in the following chronological order:

January 3, 2005 Liberty Lines Express Queens
February 27, 2005 Queens Surface Corporation Queens
July 1, 2005 New York Bus Service Bronx
December 5, 2005 Command Bus Company Brooklyn
January 9, 2006 Green Bus Lines Queens
January 30, 2006 Jamaica Buses Queens
February 20, 2006 Triboro Coach Corporation Queens

   On retrospect, this event could very well be considered the third "unification" of New York City transit operations, and the one that goes most unnoticed. Some of these companies were direct descendants of, and only one generational link from streetcar operations in Queens, and not having passed through either the First or Second Unifications.

   Obviously, most of attention garnered by transit buffs is paid to the subway and elevated operations. Bus fans are a very niche subgroup within transit aficiandoes, but they deserve some page space as well!

   In 2008, the MTA, now having acquired the private operators; folded everything into "MTA Regional Bus Operations Division", but this is a divisional department name, with MTA Bus and MTA New York City Bus being the "brand names".

   But, as I stated earlier, surface operations did not receive nearly the amount of attention it has been due, with most published books and websites focusing on the history of rail related transit operations. Equally as so, the transfers and zone check issues by these bus operators are an integral part of NYC transit ephemera collecting, and they deservedly have a place within the scope of this website.

As such, transfers for independent bus operators are more readily seen for Queens lines. Staten Island being small, had the least.

   A short concise history for each of the private operators is located above the known issues for those operators on the catalog page:

Page 5 - Bus Continuing Ride Tickets & Transfers - Independent Operators / Private Bus Lines

Significant Dates of New York City Transit Fares - 1827 to the present



   The following table is a compilation of all known fares, as well as dates relating to the institution of or cessation of fare related services, for all services (when known) for both private and City operations. It is divided into two sections; the left for rapid transit (subways and elevateds) and the right for surface lines (trolleys, streetcars and buses).

   Also take note, the private bus operator fares were raised after the NYCTA raised theirs, to allow for filing with the Board of Estimate, and subsequent amending of the associated contracts. Most of the information below has been compiled from New York Times archives.

date fare Rapid Transit  (subways & elevateds) date fare Surface Lines (trolleys, streetcars, and buses)
182712½¢per person - Brower Stage (Broadway between Bowling Green & Prince Street)
New York & Harlem River RR - to Yorkville
to Harlem
October 23, 1852Eighth Avenue Railroad, entire railroad
March 22, 185510¢
New York & Harlem River RR - to Yorkville
to Harlem (upon competition from Third Avenue Stage)
March 22, 18556¢
stages uniform fare: main avenues
cross streets
1872 6¢ Authorized maximum fare for any distance traveled below 42nd Street on the New York and Harlem RR (street railway)
1879  10¢

Manhattan Elevated: trips less than 5 miles, not to exceed through passage from Battery and Harlem River, except on Commission Trains (operating 5:20 - 7:20 am &
5:00 - 7:00 pm) at 5¢ and
Interborough Rapid Transit, Manhattan Elevated, Third Avenue Elevated
transfers to other lines
transfer to Second and Third Avenue Lines at South Ferry

New York City Interborough Railway (surface lines)
transfers to other lines
transfer to Second and Third Avenue Lines at South Ferry
May 26, 1900 10¢
double fare collected on train / cars south of Kings Highway on Culver Line and Brighton Lines; upon exit at Coney Island on Sea Beach Line and West End Lines.
Manhattan & Queens Traction Corp
May 1, 1920 double fare to Coney Island abolished
November 1, 1923

Manhattan & Queens Traction Corp converts to Zoned System: Queensboro Bridge Local
Zone A: Manhattan Terminal QBB to Grand St. Elmhurst
Zone B: Old Mill Road to LIRR / Trolley Terminal, Jamaica
September 12, 1928 IRT files for 7 cent fare, tokens minted; fare hike denied date?

2 for

Queensboro Bridge Railway: Manhattan to Queens (cash),
Queensboro Bridge Railway: Manhattan to Welfare Island (cash),
Queensboro Bridge Railway: tokens
(2½¢ - also good for Welfare Island to Queens)
1939 / 1940 10¢
BMT Streetcar routes from Brooklyn to Worlds Fair
from Queens
March 14, 1947 Franchises let and approved for Triboro, North Shore and Green Bus Operators in Queens
July 1, 1948 10¢
BOT - NYCTS first unification
combination transfers from subway to bus
July 1, 1948

BOT buses & trolleys
additional for combination tickets from bus to subway introduced
additional for combination tickets from private surface operators to NYC subway
September 22, 1948 6¢
private buses except:
Fifth Avenue Coach
December 12, 1948 7¢
5 for 20¢
Green Bus, New York City Omnibus, Eighth Avenue Coach, Madison Avenue Coach
Queensboro Bridge Railway Manhattan to Welfare Island (cash),
Queensboro Bridge Railway tokens
(6¼¢ - also good for Welfare Island to Queens)
Queensboro Bridge Railway transfers to other lines
June 25, 1949 12¢ Fifth Avenue Coach
July 1, 1950 10¢
BOT buses & trolleys (combination transfers from bus to subway still additional 5¢)
private bus operators: New York City Omnibus, Madison Avenue Coach, Eighth Avenue Coach, Green Buses, Triboro Coach, Jamaica Buses, Steinway Omnibus, Queens-Nassau Transit, Avenue B & East Broadway Transit
January 1, 1951 10¢


private bus operators: Queens-Nassau Transit, Steinway Omnibus, Green Bus Lines, Triboro Coach, Jamaica Buses, Avenue B & East Broadway, New York City Omnibus, Madison Coach, Eighth Avenue Coach;
transfer between above companies
combination tickets between above companies and BOT surface lines introduced
Queensboro Bridge Railway transfers
July 1, 1952

combination tickets eliminated between BOT & private surface buses & BOT rapid except:
transfers from Bklyn bound elevated to bus @ Brooklyn Bridge issued at Bridge-Jay St Sta,
transfers between surface lines terminating at Brooklyn Bridge at IND High Street Sta;
transfers to Broadway Elevated at Marcy Avenue.

extra fare for bus routes crossing Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
July 25, 1953 15¢ NYCTA second unification - tokens for rapid transit only "Small Solid Token" released
July 25, 1953 15¢
surface line payment remains coin only 
(NYCTA fare parity between rapid transit and surface line from this point down)
September 24, 1953 15¢ "Small Y Cutout Token" replaces "Small Solid token"
October 31, 19538¢
Queensboro Bridge Railway (cash)
transfers to other lines
January 1, 1954 10¢
Queensboro Bridge Railway (cash), to Welfare Island; 4 tokens @ 25¢
Third Avenue Lines
Fifth Avenue Coach, Surface Transportation Bus Avenue B & East Broadway Transit,
transfers from above companies to their own lines
Jamaica Bus, Triboro Coach, Queens-Nassau Transit, Steinway Omnibus,
Green Bus Lines local, 25
¢ two zone, 35¢ three zone
June 28, 1956 double fare (south of Howard Beach Station) for new Rockaway Service
April 7, 195715¢

$1.50 for 24

Queensboro Bridge Bus: Manhattan to Queens:
(trolley line discontinued, replaced by bus service)
tokens for Bird-Coler Employees
(6¼¢ per token.)
tokens no longer accepted at Manhattan Terminal - Queens to Welfare Island only

September 15, 1959 50¢ Aqueduct Special
December 1, 1958 3¢ transfers from Fifth Avenue Coach, Surface Transportation Bus
June 15, 1961 transfers on from Fifth Avenue Coach & Surface Transit
January 6, 1962 transfers abolished from Fifth Avenue Coach & Surface Transit
March 1962 15¢ NYCTA absorbs Fifth Avenue Coach and Surface Transit Bus,
creates Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit operating Authority "MaBSTOA".
May 18, 1963 "Small Y Cutout Token" usage on buses instituted
July 5, 1966 20¢

Aqueduct Special
- "Extra Large Y Cutout" (Special Fare) Token released
July 5, 1966

bus - bus transfers
July 25, 1966 20¢ MaBSTOA Bus and Private Bus Lines
July 1, 1969 Half Fare for Senior Citizens instituted July 1, 1969 Half Fare for Senior Citizens instituted
August 31, 1969 Exact Change Only on buses instituted
January 4, 1970 30¢ 
"Large Y Cutout" token released
January 4, 1970 30¢ 
January 25, 1970 25¢
"  "
Avenue B & East Broadway Transit, Triboro Coach, Queens Transit,
Steinway Omnibus, Pioneer Bus, NY Bus Tours
Zone 1 - Green & Jamaica Bus Lines
Zone 2 -
"      "    "          " "   "  "    "
Zone 3 - "      "    "          " "   "  "    "
Private Express Buses
10 trip commutation ticket
April 12, 1971 NYCTA Express Buses $1.00
1971 30¢
Avenue B & East Broadway Transit, Triboro Coach, Queens Transit,
Steinway Omnibus, Green Bus Lines, Jamaica Bus, Pioneer Bus
Private Bronx Express Buses to $1.25, Private Queens Express Buses to $1.50
July 1, 1971 Staten Island Rapid Transit becomes part of MTA / NYCTA
January 1, 1972 35¢ January 1, 1972 35¢ NYCTA Express Buses $1.25?
February 10, 1972 30¢
Zone 1 - Green & Jamaica Bus Lines
Zone 2 -
"      "    "          " "   "  "    "
Zone 3 - "      "    "          " "   "  "    "
December 1, 1972 35¢
"  "
NY Bus Tours, Avenue B & East Broadway Transit, Steinway Omnibus, Queens Transit, Triboro Coach, Pioneer Bus
Zone 1 - Green & Jamaica Bus Lines
Zone 2 -
"      "    "          " "   "  "    "
Zone 3 - "      "    "          " "   "  "    "
10 trip Commutation Ticket abolished
October 8, 1973 75¢ NYCTA unlimited rides Midtown Shoppers Bus
December 16, 1973 Half Fare Sundays instituted
September 2, 1975 50¢ Half Fare for Handicapped / Disability recipients added September 2, 1975 50¢
NYCTA Express Buses $1.50, free bus transfers eliminated, replaced with:
Add-A-Ride tickets instituted - Monday through Saturday
Add-A-Ride tickets Saturday night through Sunday night
double fare on Rockaway Line abolished
November 15, 1975 Half Fares extended to Saturday
January 1, 1976 50¢ Riverdale Transit, Pelham Parkway Bus Service, NY Bus Tours, Triboro Coach,
Queens Transit, Steinway Omnibus, Jamaica Bus, Green Bus, Pioneer, Domenico

Private Express Buses to $1.50
September 23, 1978 $3.00 / $3.50 JFK Express service inaugurated (to / from - from fare includes regular subway fare - see Page 10: for explanation of fares) $1.00 / $1.20 JFK Airport Loop Bus
January 1, 1979$25 ($1.25) JFK Express Airport Employees Discount Ticket Books released
April 1979 "Silver Special Fare Token" released for Aqueduct Special
November 1, 1979 "Diamond Jubilee Token" released
May 18, 1980 Half Fare weekends abolished
June 28, 1980 60¢    
$3.40 / $4.00
$30 ($1.50)
"Large Solid Y Token" released
JFK Express fare
JFK Express Airport Employees Discount Ticket Books
June 28, 1980 60¢
$1.20 / $1.50
NYCTA Express Buses $2.00
JFK Airport Loop Bus
July 3, 1981 75¢
$4.25 / $5.00
$45? ($2.25)

JFK Express fare
JFK Express Airport Employees Discount Ticket Books
July 3, 1981 75¢
$1.50 / $1.80
25¢ Add-A-Ride transfers eliminated, free bus-to-bus transfers re-instated
JFK Airport Loop Bus

July 25, 1981 75¢ Triboro Coach, Queens Transit, Steinway Bus, Jamaica Bus, Green Bus, Command Bus

September ?, 1981
NYCTA Express Buses $2.50
January 2, 1984 90¢
$5.10 / $6.00

JFK Express fare
January 2, 1984 90¢
$1.80 / $2.00
Express Bus $3.00
JFK Airport Loop Bus
Add-A-Ride tickets abolished (possibly earlier)
January 1, 1986 $1.00
$5.50 / $6.50
$50 ($2.50)

JFK Express fare
JFK Express Airport Employees Discount Ticket Books
January 1, 1986 $1.00
$2.00 / $2.25
East Side Express Bus to $4.00, all other Express buses remained at $3.00
JFK Airport Loop Bus
April 21, 1986 "Bulls-eye Token" (with SJD) released
December 1988 "Archer Avenue Bulls-eye" Token released
January 1, 1990 $1.15
$5.60 / $6.75

JFK Express fare (possibly $6.35 / $7.50)
January 1, 1990 $1.15
no change
all NYCTA Express Buses $4.00
JFK Airport Loop Bus
April 15, 1990 JFK Express service abolished
June 4, 1990 experimental 4 pack of tokens released
January 1, 1992 $1.25 "Bulls-eye Token" (without SJD) released(?) January 1, 1992 $1.25
June 1, 1993 MetroCard system (Blue) rolled out in subways only
September 1995 first MetroCard (Blue) fareboxes installed on SI Buses, 
December 1995 MetroCard fareboxes installed in all NYCTA buses
November 12, 1995 $1.50 "Five Borough" token released $1.50
July 4, 1997 free transfers MetroCard Gold introduced allowing free transfers between subway & buses,
including private buses
March 1, 1998 free transfers MetroCard Gold introduced allowing free transfers between subway & buses,
including private buses

NYCTA Express Buses reduced to $3.00
September 18, 2000bullseye tokens no longer accepted at turnstilesSeptember 18, 2000bullseye tokens no longer accepted on buses
April 13, 2003 sales of tokens ceased April 13, 2003 sales of tokens ceased
May 4, 2003 $2.00 tokens no longer accepted for subway $2.00 tokens accepted on buses only with additional 50¢
NYCTA Express Buses back up to $4.00
December 31, 2003 ? token acceptance on buses ceased
May 2004 $1.00
Queen Private Bus Operators: Off Peak Local routes
Local routes - Base Fare
Two Zone Express routes
February 27, 2005 NYCTA Express Buses to $5.00
February 20, 2006 Last of the Private Bus Lines absorbed into MTA Bus
June 28, 2009 $2.25 single ride MetroCard: $2.50 June 28, 2009 $2.25
December 30, 2010 NYCTA Express Buses to $5.50
March 3, 2013 $2.50 single ride MetroCard $2.75 March 3, 2013 $2.50 NYCTA Express Buses to $6.00
March 22, 2015 $2.75 current fare March 22, 2015 $2.75 single ride MetroCard $3.00
NYCTA Express Buses to $6.50
October 23, 2017 NYCTA announced MetroCard system being abolished of contactless "OMNY" RFID Card System.
April 21, 2019 NYCTA Express Buses to $6.75
ca. 2024 MetroCard system slated to be abolished


Catalog Pricing & the New York City Transit Ephemera Market


   Pricing for items listed in this catalog are based on prices paid for examples acquired for our collections (adjusted for inflation where necessary); as well as:

  • prices realized (not listing / asking prices) on eBay and other internet sources via completed / sold listings search
  • Worthpoint, and other internet sales history aggregators
  • personal records of collectors, including myself; compiled from prices realized from conventional numismatic auction listings, and over the past few decades.


   A sale price is determined by three factors: Condition, demand and rarity. If one of those three legs is missing from the milking stool, things do not sit well.

   Rarity takes into account not only the number made, but the number of similar items that have survived, and the number known to have traded hands. 

   Demand exists when fifteen people are in search of seven items; eight people will be 
disappointed. They will then perhaps be eager to pay higher at the next auction appearance, or drop out of the collecting pool altogether and move on to something else.

   Condition comes into effect when numerous like items are available thus discretion can be made to how well preserved it is. On a truly rare item, condition has a lot less consideration.

   Many items in this catalog are known in less than five specimens, especially the omnibus tokens and stage tickets. However, when only two or three people are interested in them and there are ten; well then, there is no demand. If a particular item is nice and "sexy" and twenty exist but forty people want it, then the demand is disproportionate to the availability, and the price rises until the demand fades. 

   When an old time collection or horde becomes available, many items come to the market at once; which have formerly been unavailable and thus create interest and buying opportunities. But when plentiful, the price should go DOWN.

   To bring this into focus: 

   But not all items from a specific railroad may be rare. Rarity is based on whether or not the issues were for general or special fares, every day circulation or a special occasion.

   Other factors considered, are the longevity and scope of the operation; for example: a ticket from a one or two route transportation company in the 1920's will be significantly rarer than that of tickets from a large subway operator in 1904. 

   In regard to items listed on this website, the following terms are used and their explanation:

 many examples are known; by variety, date and quantity; pretty much seen full time for sale individually on eBay, Etsy, Mercari, and on dealer / private sales lists.
uncommon:  examples not frequently seen, but can appear for sale several times a year on eBay, Etsy, Mercari, et al.
 however: tokens in this category may be found on private sales lists of token specialists & dealers.

scarce / rare:  very infrequently seen, purchasing opportunities extremely limited to perhaps once or twice a year; some competition to be expected.
extremely rare:  minimal examples known, years before an example appears for sale; much demand; intense competition to be expected, but not guaranteed.

Collectors of NYC Transportation Exonumia & Ephemera - Facebook Group


   Several years ago, I (PMG) created a group on Facebook for the collectors of New York City Transit Exonumia and Ephemera. After about a year, it had not received the kind of attention I had envisioned, and so I archived it.

   With the publication of this website however, I now foresee increased interest the area: those that will be seeking knowledgeable assistance for pricing of objects in the area, as well as offering those collectors  a specific area to have discourse on the subject; and provide an opportunity to buy, sell and trade as an alternative to eBay (and their fees). 

   So I thought it would be an opportune time to un-archive the group. 

   You may access the group here:

Collectors of NYC Transportation Exonumia & Ephemera - Facebook Group

Please note: Group Rules and Guidelines are as follows:
  • no modern generalized politics;
       (historical politics regarding fare control and fare raises however are inevitable and will be accepted in polite, mature, congenial discussion)
  • no copyright infringement; 
  • no spam or off topic advertising;
  • no unsolicited criticism;
  • no generalized posts bashing or criticizing the MTA / NYCTA / MN / LIRR; 
  • no deliberately false or inaccurate posts (so called April Fools posts),
  • above all else: NO DRAMA.
  • yes to wheeling and dealing, 
  • yes asking questions,
  • yes to bringing friends.



This website is fondly dedicated in the memories of

Joseph D. Korman
30 year veteran (retired) of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Bus Division
Benjamin W. Schaeffer
23 year veteran Conductor of the New York City Transit Authority, with several commendations for exemplary & heroic service. 
RTO Conductor Vice Chair for the Transit Workers Union Local 100.

NY area transit & railroad historian; aficionado, collector and good friend. 

passed away - 21 November 2018

Taken too soon by CoVid-19 - 28 April 2020

Joseph Korman

   This website is informally dedicated to the efforts of the late Joseph D. Korman. In his groundbreaking website "The JoeKorNer", he had addressed the most basic of NYC transit ephemera. Following his passing in 2018, his website unfortunately went untouched, and ultimately was removed from the web as of November 2021. 

   It can be said this website was in some way inspired of his initial efforts. 

Benjamin W. Schaffer

   A good friend, stalwart employee of the Transit Authority, an extremely knowledgeable transit buff and collector. Unfortunately, one of the first victims of CoVid 19 in April 2020. 

   When a question arose that was NY Transit related, the first suggestion inevitably was "Ask Ben".

   Following his all-to-early passing, I (PMG) was given the honor of housing his vast collection, and of which has lent itself greatly to the creation of this website.

Special Thanks


   Whether it be a collector submitting a large assortment of items or only one for inclusion to display; whether it be fare related, or photographs or documents; or being a respectable and repeat seller of items; 
we are greatly appreciative of the submissions of the following people to help make this website what it is;

Ms. Ricki Bauman
NYCTA revenue clerk (retired)

William Downes
fairfare (eBay)

Steve Hayden Civil War Tokens

Arthur Huneke

John Isaksen

New York Times Article Archives

Gibson Olpp
Osborne Coinage

Harold Pinsker
haroldelliottp (eBay)

Jim Poulos

Bob Schneider

Bob Singleton
Greater Astoria Historical Society

Ken Whorton
texkengold (eBay)

Mark Wolodarsky

Al Zelazo
subwayal (eBay)

and much appreciation goes to Steve Grande for the unlimited amount of digital space for, and the hosting of; this website on!

All content, graphics, and text - 

© 2022 - Philip M. Goldstein

About your Authors

George S. Cuhaj

   George Cuhaj is a son of Astoria, NY. As a student at Brooklyn Technical High School he traveled the IND’s GG crosstown local in the mornings and the BMT’s RR local in the afternoon homebound. His father and uncle worked at the 207th Street Shops, and in an earlier generation a Grandfather and seven shirt-tail relatives worked at Sunnyside Yards of the PRR or the Morris Park Shop of the LIRR. College years at what was then New York City Community College put him in proximity of the NYCTA’s Jay Street offices during the planning years for the Transit Museum and the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. This put him in contact with Donald Harold, Hugh Dunn and Howie and Suzanne Samelson (of the Broadway Limited Antique Co.)

   Early employment was at the NYC offices of Rand McNally & Co (in their book division, not their ticket division), the American Numismatic Society (for early computerization efforts) and Stack's Rare Coins (for catalog production). During these years he continued his scouting involvement as scoutmaster and was honored with the Silver Beaver Award by the Queens Council and the Vigil Honor by Suanhacky Lodge #49, Order of the Arrow.

   A career move led him to bucolic Central Wisconsin and a 22-year career with Krause Publications Numismatic Division and editing the Standard Catalog of World Coins and the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money. From 1981 to 2010 he participated in organizing the Coin Collecting Merit Badge Booth at the National Scout Jamborees and in 2005 was the lead editor for the Coin Collecting Merit Badge booklet.

   In 2004 he was called upon to share some of his collection items for the NY Subway Centennial exhibits at both the Transit Museum and the New York Public Library where he participated in several educational events.

   This sharing of information and “stuff” brought him to work with Philip on this website.



Philip M. Goldstein

   Philip M. Goldstein was born and raised in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, NY. From an early age, with encouragement from his parents; he has been collecting ephemera such as toll receipts and maps from family road trips. This in turn led to collecting his personal New York City Transit school passes from Junior High and travels to Edward R. Murrow High School, as well as the then current system maps, tokens and bus transfers. After graduation from Lehigh Technical School with a certificate in Industrial and Mechanical Drafting his collecting advanced to U.S. small size currency (post-1928 bank notes) and Military Currency.

   In 1998 after relocating to Margaretville, NY; and following in his father's passion; he refocused his collection to local Upstate New York railroads: the Ulster & Delaware, Delaware & Eastern and Delaware & Northern Railroads; with a strong emphasis on ephemera.

   He also rekindled his interest in New York City Transit ephemera but also had a "distraction" in collecting Canadian paper currency (from 1870 to the present). At this point in 2017; with his parents now having passed on, he sold the properties in New York, divested his collection of Upstate NY railroads; and relocated to East Central Texas to join his wife's family. He now took up collecting railroad memorabilia from his "new" local railroad - the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway, and its successor, the Burlington - Rock Island Joint Texas Operation.

   Coinciding with these collecting interests throughout the years, and coupled with knowledge learned from formal schooling in graphic arts, and his self taught experience in webpage design, he has created and maintains websites / digital encyclopedias on these various subjects; such as Offline Rail-Marine Freight Terminal Railroads of New York City, as well as Military Railroads of New York City; another website pertaining to the Double Ended Railroad Wreckers of New York Area. Yet another website regarding The Development of the Carfloat Transfer Bridge of New York Harbor; has been well received and cited numerous times in the field of professional engineering.

   His collecting interests led him to author a website on Toll Scrip and Token Issues of New York and New Jersey -, and became acquainted with George S. Cuhaj. This in turn led them both to discover their mutual collecting interest of New York City Transit ephemera, and their subsequent decision to create this website. 

   In April of 2020, Benjamin W. Schaeffer - friend,  fellow researcher of New York area offline freight terminal railroads and collector of Transit Memorabilia; passed due COVID-19. This presented the opportunity to provide a good home for Ben's extremely vast collection of New York City Transit materials. 

   In his spare time, Philip can usually be found photographing BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad operations near his home. He is an avid lover of animals and is owned by no less than ten felines, two dogs and his wife Deborah. 

Bibliography and References

Private Publishings
The New York and Brooklyn BridgeLoeser, Frederick1883
New Subways for New York, Dual System of Rapid TransitMcCall, Edward E.1913
The Street Surface Railway Franchises of New York CityCarman, Harry1919
Fares Please Miller, John Anderson1941
Under the Sidewalks of New YorkCudahy, Brian1979
How We Got To Coney IslandCudahy, Brian2002
Uptown, DowntownFischler, Stan1976
The Bus Is Young and HonestSchrag, Zachary2000
From a Nickel to a TokenSparberg, Andrew2015
Website and Internet Based Sources
The JoeKorNer (website - no longer published)Korman, Joseph
Shorpy Old Photos(digitized photo archive) site)
New York's Railroads, Subways & Trolleys - Past & PresentFacebook Group
Only Classic NYCTA Subways Buses / LIRR / MetroNorth and PATH and MomentsFacebook Group
New York City Time MachineFacebook Group
New York City MemoriesFacebook Group
Subway WorldFacebook Group
Perey Turnstilesproduct history
Internal Reports, Documents
The City of New York Charter with amendmentsvarious dates
Sixth Annual ReportBoard of Railroad Commissioners1888
v. Interborough Rapid TransitNew York Supreme Court, Court of Appeals 1917-1933
v. Brooklyn Rapid TransitNew York Supreme Court, Court of Appeals1900-1920
First Annual Report of the Brooklyn and Queens Transit Co.Brooklyn & Queens Transit1930
Board of Transportation, City of New York - Public Notices and Informational Postersvarious sources1940-1953
New York City Transit Authority - Public Notices and Informational Postersvarious sources1953 - 2003
Minutes of MeetingsCity of New York Board of Franchise & Apportionmentvarious dates
Annual Reports, Board Minutes and other documentation City of New York Board of Transportationvarious dates
select images and documents with descriptions where notedNew York Transit Museumvarious dates
Effects of the 1966 New York City Transit Strike of Travel Behavior of Regular Transit UsersNYCTA1966
JFK Express - 1 Year Service Evaluation, MTANYCTA1979
New York City Department of Transportation  Bus Ridership Survey and AnalysisNYCDOT2004
ATS Transportation Practices; New York City Department of EducationNYCDOE2011
New York City Transit TariffMTA2015
Northeast Queens Bus Study; Parts 1 and 2MTA2015
Reports and ProceedingsPublic Service Commission of the State of New Yorkvarious dates
Technical and Industrial Publications and Periodicals
Elevated Railway Review; Vol. XIX; January 1 - May 151908
Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers; Vol. XLIII, No. 61917
Supplement to Electric Traction1919
Red Book Informational Guides

various dates
Rider's New York City Guide Book, Second Edition1923
Electric Railroaders Association article archivesvarious dates
Newspaper Archives
New York Times article archivesvarious dates
New York Daily News article archivesvarious dates
New York Post article archivesvarious dates
Leader Observer, Forest Park, NY1978

Page 1: Fare Tickets & Employee Passes Page 7: Half Fare Tickets - Sundays / Weekends
Page 2: Tokens Page 8: Half Fare Tickets - Senior Citizens & Handicapped
Page 3: Continuing Ride Tickets & Transfers - Rapid Transit Page 9: School / Student / Pupil Reduced Fare & Free Passes
Page 4: Continuing Ride Tickets & Transfers - Surface; Streetcar Lines Page 10: Special Issue Tickets
Page 5: Continuing Ride Tickets & Transfers - Surface; Bus Routes Page 11: Staten Island Rapid Transit
Page 6: Continuing Ride Tickets; Surface; Add-A-Ride Page 12: Hudson and Manhattan & Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH)

All content, graphics, and text in part or in whole, unless otherwise noted.

This website and its authors are not affiliated, employed nor represent the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit Authority, The Transit Museum, the City of New York, the State of New York or any other municipal governmental agency; or any private company contracted by the previous agencies; and no such affiliation is implied or suggested.