I will miss the token. I grew up in New York City, not in Boston, but I remember the look and feel of the various subway tokens that the MTA issued as I was growing up. I loved looking at older tokens, ones that were no longer usable, as it was like looking at a piece of history. Somewhere, I've kept a collection of older tokens, both from New York City and Boston, and it saddens me to think that we'll no longer see new designs.
But the token wasn't just aesthetic. It was also useful. Instead of having to gather together a bunch of coins or bills to enter a subway system, tokens allowed for simple, efficient entry. New York City has already moved away from the token, to the Metrocard, and when I've been back there I've often found that the cards don't work properly. People have to swipe more than once to get the turnstiles to accept them, and sometimes they get charged more than once by an overzealous machine.
I do have my spiffy new CharlieCard, which I'll begin to use next year, and I am looking forward to the ease of having turnstiles and fare boxes that can read the RFID tag. But I am worried about some possible bugs in the system. We have to "charge" the card once a month for the monthly pass to be registered to the card, and I can see the system going wrong. The old passes had the month printed on them, so even if the magnetic strip didn't work, the Green Line T drivers or the token booth attendants could wave you by. But all the new CharlieCards look the same, forever, no matter what amount of fare is placed upon them. What if something goes wrong and the reader doesn't register that my Card is holding my monthly pass? I suspect I'll have to get into the habit of carrying my receipt with me too, just in case.
But I digress. Farewell, simple but elegant subway token. You will be missed.
Copyright © Michael A. Burstein