The TTC token could be like Beanie Babies 2.0

The TTC's token has been in use since 1954 when the city opened Canada's first underground subway lines. Before that,.


The TTC’s token has been in use since 1954 when the city opened Canada’s first underground subway lines. Before that, people presumably paid with cash to experience severe delays.

It has been an enduring mystery why the citizens of 1950s Toronto would accept a new currency just because the subway line had finally opened. Perhaps it was the magic of an underground train that convinced them that, yes, of course we use different kinds of money underground. After all, underground is a foreign land.

I have had a lot of time usually while waiting for a streetcar to think about the origins of the TTC token. The most reasonable theory I have come up with, and one that I am sure history will prove correct, is that the tokens were a gift from a leprechaun’s pot. The city would then be allowed to use their underground land in exchange for the the right to name the first-born child of every TTC commissioner. Torontonians would give up their cash in exchange for the magic touch of leprechaun’s gold until the gold ran out or the leprechaun died.

So it would seem, the little green man is gone. After 60 years of Torontonians stammering to drivers that they were “sure one of these coins was a token,” an era is coming to a close. TTC is phasing out the token, and it’s time to say adieu the only way we can: solemnly, mixed with rampant consumerism.

The TTC currently sells tokens on cufflinks for $75 a pop. The kind of person who wears cufflinks and the kind of person who wears kitsch jewelry may sound like a Venn diagram with two circles that do not touch. But if you think that youd be wrong: The Bay sells Toronto Raptor cufflinks, “recessed, matte Death Star” cufflinks, and cufflinks where one is a bacon strip and the other a fried egg. Clearly, the market is here. And there’s no reason why the public coffers shouldn’t get in on a profit margin like that. We already have the tokens from the leprechauns pot. The end of the TTC token could and should mean the rise of a profitable new craze. This is Beanie Babies 2.0, and we had better not get behind like last time.

It’s an opportunity for the transit authority to go full Etsy and finally start earning its keep. They could be making token necklaces, token earrings, token tie clips, token bracelets and token money clips. The TTC could bedazzle some subways, buses and streetcars entirely in tokens, and charge riders a luxury fare. As the loonie slides abysmally downward, the token could be pressed into service as a quaint half-dollar.

You may think this is silly. Perhaps you feel the citys transit system should simply shed the token like the Canadian Mint let of go the penny: swiftly and without fanfare. But the philosopher George Santayana once said, Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. A millennium from now some idle Member of Parliament looking to make a name for himself (no doubt it will be a man) will rise to introduce a bill To Create A Currency Measuring One Single Unit, While Looking Pretty Cool When Flattened By Trains. And that is how in 3016 A.D, the citizens of Torontottawa will pay with pennies to enter the newly opened Scarborough subway extension.

The TTC is completely willing to trade on its defunct technologies. Even the Metropass is getting a decent wake: passes will include a clue to the following months image and at the end of the year customers who piece all 12 passes together will have a one of a kind TTC collectible that celebrates Toronto. One can only imagine the untold millions that 12 Metropasses will sell for future generation. So too should this city create a thriving marketplace of token-based accessories. Yes, for profit, but also to commemorate the times that our travel was at the whim of a leprechaun. Parting is such sweet sorrow, and even sweeter when you make money off of it.

website@nowtoronto.com | @vmochama

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