Obsolete Muni fare system becomes token of the past

As Muni moves into a new era of payment options, the metal transit token is going extinct.

Introduced in the 1940s, the dime-size tokens have been unavailable to the general public since 2005, according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Judson True.

Good for 90 minutes of travel, the tokens are being phased out because of their incompatibility with Muni’s increasingly modern system.

“We believe that it’s important to provide clients with prepaid fare media, and that means transitioning to smart-card technology,” True said.

Greedy transit riders are also partially to blame for the tokens’ demise.

Taking advantage of the fact that Muni’s fareboxes are unable to tell when a token was purchased, some people bought them up before fare increases went into effect. After the fare increases, the token-holders could travel at a discounted rate.

The tokens are now dispensed only to nonprofit organizations that have clients with special needs, according to True. Only about 50 of these organizations still request tokens, which were replaced in 2005 with paper-coupon booklets that cost $15 for a set of 10.

Metal tokens still in circulation are the small amount handed out by nonprofits that cannot afford to give each client a $15 coupon booklet. The paper coupons are not accepted by Muni drivers unless they are ripped from the booklet at the point of sale.

No new metal tokens have been purchased since 2005, True said.

wreisman@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Methamphetamines (Sophia Valdes/SF Weekly)
New search launched for meth sobering center site

Pandemic put project on pause but gave health officials time to plan a better facility

Hasti Jafari Jozani quarantines at her brother's San Francisco home after obtaining several clearances to study at San Francisco State University. (Photo courtesy Siavash Jafari Jozani)
Sanctions, visas, and the pandemic: One Iranian student’s bumpy path to SF State

Changing immigration rules and travel restrictions leave some overseas students in limbo

Woody LaBounty, left, and David Gallagher started the Western Neighborhoods Project which has a Balboa Street office housing historical items and comprehensive website dedicated to the history of The City’s West side. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Outside Lands podcasts delve in to West side’s quirky past

History buffs Woody LaBounty and David Gallagher have been sharing fun stories about the Richmond and Sunset since 1998

After the pandemic hit, Twin Peaks Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic, a situation lauded by open space advocates. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New proposal to partially reopen Twin Peaks to vehicles pleases no one

Neighbors say closure brought crime into residential streets, while advocates seek more open space

Protesters rally at the site of a proposed affordable housing project at 2550 Irving St. in the Sunset District on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)
Sunset District affordable housing discussion flooded with ‘scare tactics and hysteria’

Project would provide 100 units, some of which would be designated for formerly homeless families

Most Read