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Early City of New York
Toll Bridges, Plank Roads
|Pre-TBTA Agencies||Port of New York Authority |
Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey
|State of New York||State of New Jersey|
Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority / MTA Bridges & Tunnels
the Seal of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority
The Triborough Bridge Authority, upon absorbing the New York City Tunnel Authority / Queens Midtown Tunnel in 1946; was now renamed the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (colloquially called "the TBTA") and remained so until 1994.
Under the auspices of the TBTA, we would see the openings of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (long planned as a bridge since the 1930's), the Throgs Neck Bridge in 1961 and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in 1964.
With these final three crossings, the TBTA would now have a total of nice bridges and tunnels to administer to (actually ten if you consider the Manhattan span of the Triborough Bridge a separate crossing), and all of them borough to borough crossings; that is any bridge or tunnel crossing within the city and state of New York. These crossings include those between:
* Before progressing any further, it should be noted that this website will be using the classic (yet incorrect) spelling of Verrazano, because that is the spelling so used on scrip and token issues.
The correct spelling is with two z's: Verrazzano.
Also, while not within the scope of this website; the TBTA also administered to and operated several other non-parkway / bridge properties, those being the: Jacob Riis Park Parking Field, Brooklyn Battery Garage, East Side Airline Terminal and the New York Coliseum.
The TBTA name remains in use and still exists; however, in 1994 it became part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Bridges and Tunnels. While it still exists, it conducts business as ("d/b/a") MTA Bridges & Tunnels in keeping with the unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority theme, i.e.: MTA Transit (NYC Subways), MTA LIRR (Long Island Rail Road), MTA MNCR (MetroNorth Commuter Railroad), etc.
.Henry Hudson Bridge Toll Booth Locations
April 1, 1986 - One Way Tolling at Verrazano Narrow Bridge
While tolls for most of the bridges and tunnels of the TBTA are collected in both directions; commencing in April 1, 1986 tolls would be collected one way (eastbound / towards Staten Island) only at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
In 1985, U.S. Representative Guy V. Molinari (R-Staten Island) co-sponsored a bill that would require the MTA (parent agency for the TBTA) to institute one way only collection of the toll at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge's and for the Staten Island-bound direction only. This bill was a result of Staten Island residents complaining about pollution from idling vehicles waiting to pay their respective tolls, and of which during rush hour; could stretch two to three-miles along the Staten Island Expressway.
In December of that same year, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill that prohibited the MTA from collecting tolls from Brooklyn-bound vehicles, under penalty of a loss of highway funding. Accordingly, in March 1986, the MTA started a pilot program where it charged a $3.50 toll for Staten Island-bound vehicles rather than charging a $1.75 toll in both directions. This $3.50 seemed especially punitive as an already and previously scheduled fare increase for January 1986 also took place, which saw the toll raised from $1.50 to $1.75.
Which each subsequent raise in toll rates, added double the burden at this particular crossing. Yes, people traveling in both directions received a free pass on the Brooklyn-bound leg of their journey, but many motorists as well as commercial vehicles traveling one way westbound were burdened with an extra high toll that could not be recouped on a return trip.
December 1, 2020 - Return to Bi-directional Tolling at the Verrazano Narrows BridgeWith the advent of cashless electronic tolling, as well as "cleaner" vehicles, and as the one way "cash" cost for a standard automobile to cross the Verrazano Bridge was now $19.00 as it had become in 2019; public outcry became loud enough to demand legislative action to split the toll to bi-directional again. Pollution from standing vehicles was not longer issue as it had been, as cashless tolling allows for vehicles to be scanned at speed and sending a bill to the registered address of the vehicle owner, as E-ZPass users had been doing for decades prior.
For the record, this $19.00 toll has the distinction of being the highest toll charged for crossing a bridge or tunnel in the United States (The Chesapeake Bay Bridge - Tunnel came in second place at $15.00 each way).
The change back to two-way tolling was accomplished through a new bill passed in Congress in 2019, that had been sponsored by first-term U. S. Representative Max Rose (D-Staten Island).
Taking effect December 1, 2020; drivers who use the Brooklyn-Staten Island span will pay $6.12 each way with an E-ZPass, instead of the current $12.24 to enter Staten Island, but will no longer have a free ride to Brooklyn. Staten Island residents will pay $2.75 both ways, and cars without an E-ZPass will be charged with a $9.50 toll by mail.
At the time of first publishing this website in October 2019; the only paper issues that I had encountered for the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority, were IBM style punch card tickets from the 1963 and an empty booklet cover from about the mid-1980's.
With the assistance of Ms. Hankins, I can now compile the following list of scrip and token issues and usage dates over the decades.
Also, it should be noted; the naming of the scrip issues (First, Second, Third, et al) are not official TBTA terminology; but names I have associated with the various designs to more easily identify and categorize the various issues.
"First" and "Second" Issues all appear to be printed by the Elliott Ticket Company of New York. The "Third" Issue or "Univac" Series, were printed by either Univac, IBM, Osceola Graphics and a possible fourth yet unknown printer. Examples of the "Fourth" Issue (large barcode) are known to have circulated but printer(s) are unknown. The "Fifth" and "Sixth" Issues, while known are printed by a currently unknown printer.
As for Token Issues, some issues are known to have been struck by Roger Williams Mint.
Please remember, and I cannot stress this strongly enough;
Tickets from earlier issues were redeemable even after a new design issue was released
(a new design issue did not render the previous issue void).
Therefore various issues were used concurrently.
Upon the absorption of the Queen Midtown Tunnel into the Triborough agency in 1946, the name of the agency was changed from Triborough Bridge Authority, to the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. Therefore, all tickets bearing the new entity's name were issued no earlier than 1946.
All denominational tickets of the First and Second Series appear to share the same dimensions: 3 7/16" L x 2" W, with the exception of the Garage & Servicing Ticket seen immediate below and of which appears to be larger format. It also appears at this time that all First and Second Series denominational tickets were printed by the Elliott Ticket Company.
In 1963, a new style of toll scrip was introduced and circulated: the punch cards.
Some dedicated searching of the world wide web revealed some information on the the toll ticket machines used by the TBTA; from the "VIP Club", a club of retirees from IBM, Remington Rand, Sperry, Univac, Unisys, and other assorted information technology development firms.
On page 158 of "UNIVAC PRODUCTS - ST. PAUL A Handbook of Major Products Designed, Developed, and Manufactured a ST. PAUL 16, MINNESOTA; 1947 to 1959" the following is found:
The .75 and $1.00 denomination tickets; do not reflect a printer, but have Univac and IBM style holes. They carry a serial number prefix of UD, and both carry a printing code of P25191R: the 75 cent is P25191R.14 and the dollar is P25191R.16. about 8 months later, I then acquired two books, of .10 cent tickets in a $2.00 book and .50 cent tickets in a $10.00 book. Both of these are Univac (round) punchhole only. The 10 cent is P25191R.2 and the .50 cent is P251R.10
Shortly following the internet publication of this website (like, within hours), George S. Cuhaj submitted two examples of tickets from his collection for inclusion. His two tickets are marked for Univac 25191R.2 (.10 cent) and IBM Z38345
Noting the two different style of punchholes, the Univac style has round punchouts (also known as Hollerith style, after the inventor of punch cards, Herman Hollerith), while the IBM style has rectangular punchouts. These punch cards allowed automatic tabulation and accounting upon issue and upon redemption. There are also tickets using both types of punchholes, so we now know of three distinct types of punch cards known for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority: (Cross Bay Bridge). So we are now able to conclude the type of machines used for toll collection.
And while punch cards are commonly thought of as mid-Twentieth Century technology, use of punched cards for tabulation dates back as far as 1896.
Even I have to admit, I originally thought that the TBTA punch cards may be a circa 1950's issue. However, this was an incorrect presumption on my part. If the information received from Ms. Hankins of the TBTA archives is correct (and we have no reason to suspect it otherwise), the all Univac are the first issued punch cards, first issued in 1963; and the Univac / IBM are from circa 1970. She did not specify when the all IBM card were issued; but we can presume with IBM's acquisition of it competitors and its growing monopoly in the office machine / accounting world, the IBM style tickets appeared last, 1973.
Tabulating the known printing codes reveals the following:
Also, as more booklet covers begin to be seen, we can observe the complex assignment of values to various classes of vehicles at differing locations. Generally speaking, tolls at tunnels cost more than bridges, and the Verrazano being the newest crossing, was priced higher than other crossings. It made for a very confusing system and as you can see, the list of applicable locations on the .50 cent booklet cover takes up the entire cover.
All punch cards are single sided with a beveled bottom right corner and all appear to be uniform in size and thickness: 3 3/8" (width) - 2 13/16" (height) - 0.0075" (thickness).
In regards to the following cover for the Cross Bay Bridge / Veterans Memorial Bridge (which is for the ticket above); my internet research has not revealed what year "Veterans Memorial" was added to the name. Knowing this, would definitely give a fair approximation of the issue date. Since the Marine Parkway Bridge is overstamped on the booklet cover, can we conclude this booklet was issued soon after 1937 when the Marine Parkway Bridge was built, until new tickets including the bridge could be printed?
But, I also took note that this issue has 5 digit zip codes listed for neighborhoods in Rockaway:
11691 - Bayswater 11692 - Arverne 11693 - Rockaway Beach 11694 - Rockaway Park 11695 - Far Rockaway 11697 - Roxbury
As the US Post Office Department did not institute the 5 digit zip code until July 1, 1963; I think we may have a better approximation of the issue date of these tickets. I also note that they are called "postal zones" and not zip codes. "Postal zone" was the old nomenclature prior to the 5 digit zip code, so by the combination of the old name and the new 5 digit zip code, I would say these were issued very shortly after July 1963. Confirming this issue date is Ms. Hankins' reply to my inquiry..
The next chronological issue of toll payment to be released following the Univac punch cards is technically the token issues; which entered circulation in 1976.
These tokens are covered in a separate chapter on this website a little further on and following the scrip, and as I wanted to keep all the paper scrip issues together.
"Fourth" Series Large Barcode Issues (unseen) - ca. 1976 to June 19, 1986
"Fifth" Series Small Barcode Issues - June 19, 1986 to ca. 1994
After reading the above memo outlining the new small barcode issue of scrip; and only having a black & white copy, I was feeling like something was missing. I also was feeling a little creative, so with a little work with Picasa image editor and MS Paint, I have come up with an approximation of what the "Fifth series" small barcode tickets should appear like, based on the colors listed in the above memo.
When referencing the March 1989 ticket book order form, there is a row to order $2.50 denomination tickets. It is believed a $2.50 ticket as well as a $6.50 denomination was issued in 1989 (and after the above memorandum was issued); with the $2.50 replacing the $2.00 denomination (Class 1 Major Crossings), while the $6.50 was issued for Class 8 Minor Crossings. However this is not confirmed at this time.
Ticket dimensions are not known at this time, but appear to be proportionate to that of the Sixth Series in the next chapter below.
According to a study performed by the firm URS for the TBTA: "HISTORY AND PROJECTION OF TRAFFIC, TOLL REVENUES AND EXPENSES and REVIEW OF PHYSICAL CONDITIONS Of the Facilities of TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE AND TUNNEL AUTHORITY - April 29, 2005"; it states on page 14:
"Over the years, various discount programs have been introduced. In March 1987, the Staten Island Carpool Program was initiated. Staten Island residents were offered 30-round trip coupons for vehicles with three or more occupants at a discounted price of $30.00. This program was revised to 24 coupons for $30.00 in July 1989, to 24 coupons for $42.00 in May 2003, and to 24 coupons for $54.00 in March 2005."
With this information, the first two dates (March 1987 and July 1989) fall into the usage era of the Fifth Series. While the VNB Carpool tickets mentioned for this issue has not yet been seen, it can be presumed to be similar to the approximate design:
"Sixth" Series (and final?) Issues - ca. 1994 to 9/30/2017
I had been hoping that at some point, an issue of TBTA scrip would appear that would correspond to the empty booklet cover I have in my collection. The ticket stubs in my booklet have backs of light green security printing consisting of a repeating TBTA seal. Under the glued black binding of front and rear covers, is 06-2109B-560 (A), and on the front of each of the 24 remaining stubs is 06-1X09-B570 and VN-CAR.
I had therefore concluded this was a commutation booklet for passenger cars for Verrazano Narrows Bridge. But what did the tickets look like???
As I processed the images contained within the emails from Ms. Hankins to use here, and as I saw this issue was orange color for most of the scrip, I was growing worried I may never find the answer to my quest. That was until I saw the V. N. Carpool ticket. Green! So, I can now confirm visually that tickets went into my booklet: VN-CAR = VN Carpool. And it is refreshing to know I was correct - for once! ☻
Visual examination of the tickets in this series, reflect all denominational issues are orange, with the TBTA seal security underprint. In the center of each note, is an unprinted white rectangle which contains the serial number in barcode format. It is presumed the barcode is UV reflective, but this is not confirmed. I also noticed, that the denomination of each note is now carried in two locations on the face: on the bottom approximately left of center, and on the right edge of the note oriented vertically.
As previously stated, the Verrazano Narrows Carpool ticket is green, the Special ticket is slate gray and the Garage & Servicing Randall's Island ticket is lilac / lavender. But the interesting issue for this series is undoubtedly the New York Militia ticket. It is printed in a desert camouflage style and without the repeating TBTA seal. In research for this website, I located an image of half of a ticket that appeared on the cover of a New York Naval Militia newsletter. I made a request to the New York Naval Militia for a scan of the whole ticket was denied (despite their being no longer in use or valid for redemption). So again, with a little time and effort in MS Paint, I recreated a close approximation of its appearance.
Ticket dimensions are 3 3/4" L x 2 5/32" W, stubs are 15/32" wide. Booklet covers are 4 1/4" L x 2 5/32" W.
According to a study performed by the firm URS for the TBTA: "HISTORY AND PROJECTION OF TRAFFIC, TOLL REVENUES AND EXPENSES and REVIEW OF PHYSICAL CONDITIONS Of the Facilities of TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE AND TUNNEL AUTHORITY - April 29, 2005"; it states on page 14:
"Over the years, various discount programs have been introduced. In March 1987, the Staten Island Carpool Program was initiated. Staten Island residents were offered 30-round trip coupons for vehicles with three or more occupants at a discounted price of $30.00. This program was revised to 24 coupons for $30.00 in July 1989, to 24 coupons for $42.00 in May 2003, and to 24 coupons for $54.00 in March 2005."
With this information, the first two (March 1987 and July 1989) VNB carpool tickets mentioned for this issue has not yet been seen but presumed to be similar to the Fifth Series design in the preceding chapter. The second two tickets for May 2003 and March 2005; are represented by the Sixth Series issue immediately above.
As far as it is known, this was the last series of scrip tickets to be printed and issued by the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority; presumably as a result of the expanding success of E-ZPass RFID units.
Beginning on November 20, 2016; "Cashless Tolling" also known as "Tolls By Mail" would be phased in, in increments:
With the final crossing being converted September 30, 2017, there are no more toll collectors to issue change or take scrip; and TBTA / MTA Bridges & Tunnels are now strictly an electronic tolling and billing system.
This table was compiled using both visually confirmed tickets, as well as those listed on order forms. Issue dates are not known for certain and some questions remain as to the yet unseen Fourth Series:
It is unknown if the Intra-Governmental Order used Fourth Series scrip, Fifth Series scrip or a special scrip. It is assumed they were comprised of Fourth Series as several issues were denominated in fractions of a dollar, that match denominations of the Fourth Series, (albeit with additional denominations of $6.00 and $9.00 and the omission of others); and while the Fifth Series consisted of almost all whole dollar amounts.
In regards to the third issue, there are three types of tickets: Univac, Univac / IBM and IBM.
According to the 1984 Tariff Bulletin, tickets in lieu of token were issued for Rockaway Residents: Between January and October 1979; Rockaway Peninsula residents were able to purchase 40-ticket books for $10.00 for use of the Cross Bay Bridge.
It also states beginning in 1980, reduced rate auto tolls ($20.00, 40 tickets, .50 cent per trip) for residents of the Rockaway Peninsula were implemented on June 16, 1980 along with the 75 cent cash tolls on the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges.
Also of particular note is an experiment from June 1981 through April 18, 1982, where tolls on the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges were collected at double the one-way rate in the southbound direction only.
Loose TBTA Tokens are the most common issues out of all of the toll memorabilia. At any given time, you can find several, if not dozens; of individual examples for sale on eBay. Later intact rolls (1987 and newer appear infrequently. Early intact rolls or wrappers are another matter.
As the tolls increased from the point where a single dime or quarter would cover the toll, increasing amounts of individual coins were needed to pay the collector (two quarters, two quarters and a dime, three quarters, etc. or the time it required to make change from currency. These transactions took longer and traffic built up at the tolls. By having tokens denominated in the basic fares for the Triborough Crossings was expected to alleviate this lag time at the toll booths.
As it is stated in the Hearings before the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation; House of Representatives - Ninety-Fifth Congress; (September - October 1977)
June, 1976, TBTA introduced exact-toll tokens in an effort to reduce
congestion at its seven bridges and tunnels within New York City.
So, with that little blurb; we now know when the "Wheel" tokens first entered service and circulation. But the planning for the use of the tokens actually goes back as far as at a board meeting taking place in May, 1973. Samples of tokens were handed out at a subsequent board meeting in January, 1976, when they (the board) approved the original commutation rate, which was just free passage with the purchase of 20 tokens.
With a little more digging; I happened across this rather lengthy article in the New York Times; which contains quite a bit of information regarding the earliest of token issues: the 50, 75 and 100 and the Toll Collectors strike that occurred shortly after their release:
Takeaways from this article reveal the following:
It is assumed the reporter is referring to the $1.00 tokens (twenty x $1.00 = $20.00). There would be no advantage for the motorist in paying more than face value for twenty 75 cent (worth $15.00) and twenty 50 cent tokens (worth $10.00).
The only discount per se, for purchasing the 20 packs of tokens was a free token at the time of purchase of the pack of the 20 of either of the denominations.
Six months ago from June 1976 would be December 1975. This would correspond with the 1975 date in the Atwood Coffee catalog for these tokens, which in actuality is now understood as an order date, not an issue date.
It now remains to be learned whether it was 500,000 for all three varieties (166,666 each denomination) or 500,000 of each denomination. Somehow, 166,666 tokens does not seem like to be enough to cover all the crossings in New York City at once. 166,666 tokens = 8,333 packs of 20 token plus loose? But, as Ms. Hankins points out: "the market share initially was very low, because keep in mind that cash and tickets were still being accepted. By July, 1977 token use was only at 8%."
While it remains unknown for certain, Roger Williams Mint was located in Massachusetts and Rhode Island; and Scovill Manufacturing was in Waterbury, Connecticut. Both of these were located in New England, along with other manufacturers. Hopefully in the near future we will be able to determine exactly which manufacturer produced these issues..
As more documents are furnished to me by Ms. Hankins (the TBTA archivist), several interesting facts come to light:
As stated in the 1982 and 1984 Tariff Sheets accompanying bond structuring, it is learned that after the initial release of the .50, .75, and $1.00 "Wheel" tokens in 1976, sales of these tokens was discontinued May 19, 1980 at the Henry Hudson, Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges.
It is also learned from these documents that $10.00 booklets of 40 tickets (25 cents per trip) was used for the Rockaway Residents between in January and October 1979; followed by the $20 booklets of 40 tickets (50 cents per trip) was used for Rockaway Residents from June 16, 1980. These tickets were used in conjunction with the tokens which were apparently used for non-residents.
Furthermore, from June 1981 through April 18, 1982; tolls at the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges were doubled in the southbound (to Rockaway) direction only on an experiment basis.
Rolls and Packs:
It has to be kept in mind, that the intent of the tokens were not to permit or control admittance to the bridges or tunnels, as the subway tokens were used to gain admittance to the subway. The TBTA tokens were used to encourage prepayment and speed in paying the toll for regular commuters and toll users by using the exact change lanes, and thereby reducing congestion and dwell time at the manned toll booths.
To further encourage the use of the tokens (and in allowing the agency to hold your money in advance); token rolls (as well as books of scrip) were offered at a discount, to include the toll payment due at that moment of passage. In other words, if your rolled up to the toll booth in your car and the cash toll was 50 cents; you could hand the toll clerk a $10 bill, and say "a roll". You would get in return: a roll of 20 tokens, a dollar bill for change, maybe a smile and away you drove.
And so, in consideration of purchasing that roll of tokens in advance, your toll fare was discounted 10% to 45 cents. And that passage at the moment of purchase would be discounted as well.
It should be known that the discounted price of token rolls varied over time and was not set to one fixed amount due to several factors, whereas the scrip was fixed to a 20% discount. The factors determining the token discount were:
As a result of these variables, my calculations reflect that over the years the discount varied between 5% up to 44% for the Resident issues. The following table is a comparison of cash (full fare) tolls, regular discount token amounts, the discount offered.
While the individual tokens are nice to collect and display so as to admire the design, it is the roll and / or wrapper that is the essence of history. While individual tokens are seen plentifully for sale, intact rolls are another matter.
Since the same token may have been used for different values over it history, it is pertinent to the serious collector to know which values, and rightly associated with that, the dates of usage.
Only patience (which I suffer from a deficiency of) is needed to fill in the gaps of which rolls were used when. As research into this subject continues, more and more roll and pack quantities come to light. To date, we are now aware of rolls of 8, 9, 10, 11, 19 and 20 and packs of 5, 10 and 20; but keep in mind, not all rolls or packs existed at the same time. But it is only until the roll or wrapper appears, that we can we actually visualize which was used where, and when.
When token packaging first began in June 1976; the .50, .75 and 1.00 "Wheel" tokens were packaged in plastic bags containing 20 tokens. The only "discount" was a free token given with each package. As a result, the discount was minimal: around 5%.
Unfortunately, I have not found any images of intact rolls or packs of the "Wheel" style tokens as yet. But I now own wrappers for those rolls thanks to George Cuhaj. The following two wrappers where for the "Wheel" style tokens release in June 1976. The .75 cent wrapper is not included in this set, but it appeared almost the same, albeit in orange ink and marked for .75 cents.
Following those wrappers above, came the next issue: the revised .75 cent token (NY630AZ) larger and thicker than the first.) Note how the diagonal stripes have been replaced with an elongated and alternating isosceles triangle. This token was issued in 1979, therefore the roll / wrapper is assumed to have been issued at the same time as well.
The earliest intact rolls I now have in my collection, are the brass "Big M" NY630BA M 100 tokens. I was fortunate enough to acquire two different rolls at the same time, each unique on their own. One is red printing and has images of the tokens adorning the wrapper. The other, containing the same tokens, is printed in blue and without the token images.
At this time, I am unsure of which wrapper was issued first or at the same time. I would surmise that the more ornate red wrapper was issued first; then simplified. As the NY630BA tokens were issued August 23, 1980; we at least know the earliest date these rolls would have been issued. The question remains, does the blue wrapper denote a change in value and was issued when the cost of the tokens as raised to $1.25? In any case, it is currently thought (by me) the latest these rolls would have been issued is presumably 4/18/1982 when the NY630BD copper plated "List" tokens were released.
The roll of tokens issued after the above tariff schedule, would be these shown below. This roll issue would be the first for the Major Crossing "List" tokens - NY630BD.
Continuing with the NY630BD copper plated "List" token; we now see roll quantities of 9 and 19 for the 1987 tariff.
The roll of 9 or 19 may seem like an odd quantity to roll coinage or tokens. Well, there was a reason for this: most daily commuters bought a roll of tokens on payday or on the first day of a work week, and most of those drivers made two one-way trips per day: one to work, another to come home; for the five business days per work week. That equals 10 trips through the toll booth per week or 20 trips per two week period. But, you also had to charge for the trip through the toll booth you were on at that moment to buy those tokens. If the rolls were 10 and 20, that would equals 11 or 21 tokens, and that would mean coinage into the mix.
So the rolls of 9 and 19 "and this trip" made things nice and simple for the commuter.
Then came the fly in the ointment. On March 15, 1987, the TBTA enacted one-way double tolling on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in the westbound (Staten Island / New Jersey) direction. This meant eastbound (Brooklyn) direction traffic would not need to stop at the toll booths. This was done to alleviate traffic back ups at peak travel times waiting to pay their tolls, which was causing excessive emissions & pollution to hang over the local residential neighborhoods of Arrochar and Grasmere, which bordered the Staten Island Expressway.
For this, a new roll quantity and denomination had to be devised, especially so for the Staten Island Resident. Since any Verrazano Narrows Bridge user would now need to use two tokens to cross westbound (and none eastbound), and as the roll of 9 or 19 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP would not break down evenly for a one or two week commute.
So, the TBTA introduced the ROLL OF 18 AND THIS TRIP - $32.00. Two tokens for each westbound crossing multiplied by 9 days (equaling 18 tokens) and that first trip would be included in the initial purchase (which equated to two tokens) and this came to an even 20 token sale The appropriate amount of tokens for a two week Monday through Friday commute. This came to $1.60 per token (the Staten Island Resident discounted rate for that tariff when the double tolling was enacted) x 2 tokens = $3.20.
What is surprising to learn, is that the standard Major Crossing "List" token was utilized for this Staten Island Resident discount roll. This in effect could allow the driver to use a single token (purchased at the $1.60 Staten Island resident discount rate) at any of the other TBTA crossings, for 10 cent less rate than the standard token discount: $1.70; but at the expense of "throwing off" their appropriate count for their Staten Island crossing. This apparently could not be too much of a concern, with what I would hypothesize the TBTA concluding the 10 cent loss was more than made up for with the double tolling at Verrazano Bridge.
The use of the NY630BD token, and not a special marked token as we would see with the later issue, is the reason for inclusion in this chapter.
The next Major Crossings roll issued chronologically is this example. Again, NY630BD remains the issued token. The wrapper is unbleached kraft paper with light blue ink. Notably, the numeral 9 is underlined (to differentiate it from an upside down 6): 9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP $21.00
As I stated previously, I had known of the existence of the roll of "9 tokens and this trip", but did not have one in my collection. This roll below needed a home too; so I purchased it as well. If my calculations are correct, this $30.00 roll is dated from the institution of March 24, 1996 toll schedule; whereas full toll rate was $3.50; and the discount token (with purchase of a roll) was $3.00: $30.00 ÷ 10 = $3.00 x 10% discount = $2.70. That would mean actual purchase price of the roll would be $27.00: 10 x $2.70 = $27.00.
Wait. $2.70 per token??? That does not make sense as tokens were not discounted to $2.70. They were either discounted to $2.50 (from the $3.00 full rate in 1993 to 1996) or $3.00 (from the $3.50 full rate in 1996 to 1998). And it definitely would not be from full fare $3.50 to discounted $2.50, as that would entail a 28.57% discount, substantially more than the prepaid books of 20% discounted toll scrip!
So, it led me to start recalculating. Why the difference in discount amount? It is known that the discount for ticket books increased from 10% to 20% circa 1985. While unconfirmed, it stands to reason the discount for a token roll purchase increased as well.
And, we also know the price of the discount for a token roll varied depending on whether a regular token, a Staten Island resident or a Rockaway resident. So it is therefore concluded at this time the discounts for rolls varied (including fractions of a percent) depending on time frame and use.
As I computed I noticed the discount varies based on the prices. If a straight 10% discount existed throughout all toll rates over history would require loose change. While $1.00 discounted 10% = 90 cents, a roll of 10 therefore would cost $9.00. Easy enough, a dollar change for a $10 dollar bill. But remember! There were 50 cent tokens, 75 cent tokens as well as $1.00 tokens.
And as the tolls went up, to $1.25, then $1.50, and so on, the rate of discount was adjusted to keep the token value close enough to the nearest quarter, i.e.: $3.50 cash toll discounted 10% = $3.15. 3.15 x 10 = $31.50. Change would at least have to include two quarters and three one dollar bills, and possibly a five dollar bill if a motorist was handing over two twenties.
So, there was need for the discount percentage to be adjusted, otherwise multiple coinage and bill denominations would come into play in both paying and handling change, and thereby slowing down the transaction at the booth.
My calculations reflect that for this roll (9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP) and amount ($30), the corresponding discount would either be 16.67% to reduce the amount from full fare $3.00 per trip to the discounted $2.50 (1993 to 1996); or 14.29% to get it from full fare $3.50 per trip to discounted $3.00 (1996 to 1998). So at a 14.29% discount, the roll of tokens cost an even $30.00.
Therefore, I believe this roll / wrapper / value combination to be the last roll style issued for sale and should have seen use until February 3, 1998; when token sales for the Major Crossings were officially discontinued. (Resident tokens remained for sale.)
The tokens themselves would remain redeemable until September 30, 2017.
Oh, those Rolls of 8!
In an article from the New York Times, dated July 16, 1989; it mentions
However, the discovery of the roll of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" leaves us really stymied. To what purpose would 8 serve? One per day, an extra plus "and this trip"? Was it to keep the purchase price of the roll to the nearest nickel or dime? I just did not know at the time and neither did Ms. Hankins the TBTA archivist.
Until finding that roll of 8; I had personally only encountered rolls of "9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP". I would learn; by reviewing one of the order forms of the TBTA for December 1986, it is reflected that one could order rolls of 60 cent tokens for $11.40, and 1.30 tokens for $24.70 each. This equates to rolls of 19 tokens per roll, but this is an inter-governmental order and I didn't think much more about it.
Ms. Hankins has not located any rolls or wrappers saved for posterity in their archives as yet, nor did she have knowledge other than the rolls of 19 (to which I immediately knew was not complete accounting). With my procurement of this roll of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP", she is now adding this data to the archives to reflect its existence and research is ongoing. The packs of 20 are mentioned in a New York Times article.
Another purchasing variable concerning token sales that has come to light, is in the way of an letter dated January 13, 1992 from Michael C. Ascher; President of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority in reply to a letter to the editor, published December 20, 1991 in the New York Times:
"To the Editor:So while I knew of the rolls of "9 TOKEN AND THIS TRIP" were prolific; when this roll of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" appeared on eBay, I knew I had to bring it home.
I have since added another roll of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" to the collection, this one marked for $25.00 (seen below). But I still had not been able to figure out what the rolls of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" were for. My math shows $21.00 ÷ 9 = $2.33 and $25.00 ÷ 9 = $2.77. Neither of those amounts are listed in the schedules, but the Class 2 tolls (for private auto with single axle trailer, three axle motorhome and three axles franchise bus) are close: $2.25 (1987) and $2.75 (1989) respectively. Close, but no cigar...
However, adding an additional 10% discount to the amounts, will bring us to within a few hundredths of a cent to $2.10 and $2.50 respectively; which were the discounted token amounts with purchase of the rolls. But this is essentially a doubled discount. What class of vehicle or user would be entitled to a doubled discount? None according to the tariffs, and discount tokens were not offered to the Class 2 vehicles.
Even as something as simple as that letter to the editor above and its reply raised questions: the letter to the editor was written in December 1991 and the reply January 1992. It mentions "nine-pack rolls of tokens". So where does the roll of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" factor in, as it too was issued during this time period: 1989-1993?
One of my faults, that I freely and openly admit to, is my obsessing over problems. I had to know what these rolls of "8 TOKEN AND THIS TRIP" were used for, and I kept looking on the web. Ironically, President Ascher's letter to the editor of the New York Times, January 30, 1992 kept coming up, so I read it over and over again.
So reluctantly, I decided to do even more math. (For the record, I hate math. I'm better at science and even better as a historian!) On a whim, I worked out the token value with the sales breakdown above: two rolls of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" (9 trips total x 2 = 18); plus one loose token and the one trip being taken at the time of purchase: 18 + 1 + 1 = 20 trips for $42.00.
$42.00 ÷ 20 trips = $2.10. Now there is a number I can live with! The $2.10 token value was precisely commensurate with the $2.50 full cash fare collected July 16, 1989 through January 31, 1993!
To test this equation, I tried the same math with the $25 roll of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP": $25.00 x 2 = $50.00 ÷ 20 trips = $2.50 per token! Which is of course is exactly the discounted token amount for January 31, 1993 through March 24, 1996.
Attempting this equation with the rolls of "9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" does not work.
So it my conclusion at this time that while the "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" rolls could be sold singly (for $21.00), their intended purpose was to be sold two at a time with one loose token and the trip at that time for $42.00. Let us hope this can be confirmed by some document in the TBTA archives!
Another minor observation made from the comparison of the roll of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" and the roll of "9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP"; the rolls are of the same length (wrappers are of the same width), but the crimp on one end of "8 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" is deeper than on the "9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP"; thereby taking up the space of the ninth token.
Rolls for "Minor Crossings"
As with the Major Crossings, we know of rolls for the Minor Crossings as well.
Acquired from George Cuhaj, is a wrapper for 19 Tokens $12.00 INCLUDES THIS TRIP. So, $12.00 ÷ 20 = .60 cents per token.
We also bear witness to a roll of 20 TOKENS INCLUDES THIS TRIP for $14.00. And, with a little time between purchases (about 2 months) we now know there are currently two distinct varieties of these wrappers known.
Both are unbleached kraft paper with red ink; however, one roll which (we will call Type 1); has the M logo with splayed legs (which appears visually to be an upside down W).
The other (which will be referred to here as Type 2) has an simple straight legged M. Also the line spacing between MARINE / HENRY HUDSON / CROSSBAY is wider on the Type 1 than on the Type 2, and the font not as large or bold.
At this time it is not known which type preceded the other or if it was due to the result of different printing contracts.
The "11 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP - $10.00" for the Minor Crossings roll.
The existence of this next roll is due to images that were located on the web as part of a completed auction value aggregating service from a listing some time ago. I have since acquired a wrapper from George Cuhaj.
This quantity also does not configure to the 5 and 10 trip per commuter week. And again we find ourselves asking: why? But, when we do the math, the $10.00 roll amount divided by 12 trips = .833 cents per token. This conforms to the tariffs for minor crossings perfectly for the time range listed in the tariffs.
In August of 2020; I encountered an eBay auction for a partial roll of Minor Crossing tokens. At first it didn't look like anything special, but then I requested images of the wrapper and the seller responded. Images showed 9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP - $10.00, which I did not have in my collection. So, I bid on it and won. Upon arrival, I repaired the wrapper as best as I willing to accept.
At first, I had a little difficulty determining the era of usage. I really need to learn how to take my time, read slower and in more detail. As it would happen, I did not notice the first twenty times I referred to the tables; that the toll discount was different between the Henry Hudson and Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridge for the period January 31, 1993 through March 24, 1996:
$10.00 divided by 10 trips = equals an even $1.00 per trip. That is simple enough math. But the fun really began when I went to fit it into my tabulation. When you reference the toll tariff tables, the only period of time that the toll was $1.00 with a token and for a minor crossing is January 31, 1993, where the full fare was $1.50 at the Henry Hudson Bridge. The token fare was .833 at Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges (full fare also $1.50). But, as we can see, the roll is clearly marked for all three bridges.
This raises the question: were the rolls simply marked for all three bridges, yet actually sold for different amounts even though marked for $10.00? I inquired of my contact at the TBTA, Ms. Hankins; and our correspondence follows:
I kept telling myself, how many drivers would have really looked at the printing on the rolls to notice if it said $10 or $11? But Ms. Hankins had a point in regards to accounting. So this got me thinking some more - the token makes the passage interchangeable among all three crossings. But was the wrapper itself used at all three or was there one wrapper for use at Henry Hudson Bridge and marked for $10.00 and another in a different quantity of tokens and sale amount for Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges?
I pondered this for several days. Then I had an epiphany. If one references the tariffs for the period before, (July 16, 1989) the discount token was .833 for all three Minor Crossings. But with the January 31, 1993 tariff, only the Henry Hudson toll increased; the Cross Bay & Marine Parkway remained the same at .833. This means, only the roll wrappers sold at the Henry Hudson would have to be adjusted for the new prepaid token discount rate of $1.00. Whatever roll that was in use for the prior tariff would just stay in use again, albeit only at Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges.
I had been thinking about it all wrong. One roll did not replace another roll, as I have come to expect with a change in value, but in this case they were both sold during the same time frame with the rolls of 11 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP - $10.00 sold only at Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges and the 9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP - $10.00 sold only at the Henry Hudson Bridge. But since the tokens were interchangeable, they were marked for all three crossings. This is the second time I got caught thinking this way, like I did with the Major Crossing Rolls of 8, which were sold alongside the rolls of 9 only with the rolls of 8 sold in pairs.
And this raises an interesting fact which I had mentioned to Ms. Hankins. With the Rockaway rolls of tokens priced cheaper than the Henry Hudson Bridge roll of token, what was to stop an enterprising (a/k/a cheapskate) Westchester or northern Manhattan resident from buying the rolls at a Rockaway Crossing and using them at the Henry Hudson thereby saving 17 cents a token or $1.70 per roll? In reality, nothing; except it was a 40 mile round trip through two or three boroughs between Westchester and the Rockaways (depending on how you went), all with traffic, traffic lights, etc. For that era, what with an average vehicle economy of 20 mpg would have eaten most of the "profit" considering a 2 gallon round trip at $1.30 per gallon for that period of time in New York City.
Honestly, it could not have been much of an issue for the TBTA as there is some factor built in to the expected revenues and shortfalls due to toll evaders, use of slugs, etc; so there would have to be some sort of "leeway" or "buffer" in the accounting to account for variables such as this.
Moving along to the next tariff sheet of 1996; this next roll was issued: "11 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" but the price is now $15.00. Please keep in mind, there should be another roll similar to this one: "11 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP" but which would be valued at $11.00; and would precede this issue $15.00; but it has not been seen as yet and will be added went it is observed.
Nevertheless, this next roll conforms to the TBTA Minor Bridge toll tariff for the period of March 24, 1996 through May 17, 2003 ($1.75 cash fare, $1.25 discounted token, commensurate with the published 28.57 % discount:
Rolls for "Residents"
Acquired in July 2021, is this roll of tokens for Staten Island Residents. 9 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP- $48.00. This helps answer another question of roll or pack format for the Resident Only Tokens.
Not six weeks later, this roll appeared for sale for Rockaway Residents (Marine Parkway & Cross Bay Bridges): 13 TOKENS AND THIS TRIP - $26.00. As with the Staten Island roll, this helps answer the questions for the Resident Only Tokens. It can be concluded that other roll denominations exist in correlation to the various toll schedules over the period that Rockaway Residents received a discount from the regular toll.
This next chart is a compilation of known token rolls and packs and IS NOT complete. New roll types will be added as they are discovered and some information may change as new data arrives. For the most part, the data contained is either empirical from examples in my collection (√ ), images on the web ( ∞ ), from toll receipts ( Θ ) or those mentioned in newspaper
articles ( ₦ ).
discounted purchase amount marked on the roll
[full cash fare in brackets] (value of token in parenthesis and includes the free trip or free token)
date(s) of use.
Mail orders of tokens ended 5/14/1982
Minor and Major Crossing ("List" token) Roll sales ended 2/3/1998
Rockaway and Staten Island Resident Tokens remained for sale only to the respective residents until 4/30 and 9/30/2017
All token redemption ended 9/30/2017
√ = in authors collection
∞ = visually confirmed to exist (internet auction or archives)
Θ = listed on toll receipts or other official documents
₦ = mentioned in newspaper
Mail Order Sales
Other than purchasing them at the toll booths, token rolls were also available by mail.
To be mailed; the token rolls, due to weight and non-machinability in postal sorting machines; a roll would have either have to have been sent first class mail with a non-machinable surcharge added to the base postage; or parcel post, which is processed at a much slower rate due to irregular sizes & weights than first class.
No mention is made of additional shipping charges for the token rolls by mail; so we conclude the TBTA absorbed those postage costs and incurred a reduced margin of revenue. Ms. Hankins suggested the "and this trip" was not redeemed through a mail order, so this offset the postage costs incurred by the TBTA.
It is mentioned in at least one New York Times article dated April 20, 1982 that:
"Tokens for any of the bridges or tunnels can be purchased at tollbooths or at the authorities administration building on Randall's Island. No credit cards or checks will be accepted. Tokens can also be purchased by mail by sending a check or money order to the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority, Randall's Island, New York, NY 10035."
As the time this was published (the day after the toll fare increase of April 19), the full fare for a passenger automobile (with no trailer) was $1.25. $1.25 reduced to $1.10 works out to a 12% discount.
The use of the word "packet" raised a potential question as well. A packet infers a small enclosed envelope: (the NYCTA offered ten tokens in a clear plastic bag approximately 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" and called a "TimeSaver Pak". But a roll is significantly different from a packet. When someone asks for a packet of coins from a bank, we will be met with a blank stare. Ask for a roll and there are no questions.
The use of a packet, being flatter and more flexible; would allow it to be processed via automated sorting machines and therefore shipped expeditiously via first class.
With the discovery of the June 1976 New York Times article seen at the beginning of this chapter, we now have confirmation of the use of plastic bags for packaging 20 tokens. If anyone out there has an actual token pack (as opposed to a roll) for the TBTA tokens, send an image and we could put this matter to rest.
While the TBTA order forms for the public as seen in the Internal Documents & Reference Materials chapter later in this website clearly show scrip ticket books available by mail, these forms do not list tokens (with the exception of the inter-governmental order).
But, we have confirmation via Ms. Hankins that the TBTA did in fact offer tokens by mail. Because such practice was discontinued in 1982! Included in the minutes of a meeting taking place of May 14, 1982 (not 4 weeks after the New York Time article above), the following is recorded:
Individual Full Fare Token Sales:
If my memory serves me correctly, I also distinctly recall toll collectors selling "the List" tokens individually for full price.
If your journey was to be round trip and the toll rate was $3.50 at the crossing at that time, you could pull up to the manned full service / receipts toll booth, hand the toll collector $7.00 and request a token as change for the return trip.
This way; on your return trip you could save a little time, by avoiding the manned toll lanes and use the exact change lanes. With token in hand, you approached the collection basket at a slow roll in your car, rolled down your window and flung your token into the basket without actually stopping and gunned the accelerator.
There are four major styles of TBTA token issues: "the Wheel", "the Big M", "the List" and "the Resident". These are informal names that I have assigned to them to identify and discuss them easier.
The "Wheel" design is the first issue, and released in June 29, 1976. They are seen in three denominations: 50 (brass plated), 75 (copper plated) and 100 (white metal plated) with several subtypes of the 75 cent token being known: thin border rim, thick border rim, small letter, large letter and a solid brass. Some of these variants may not be intentional design changes (with the exception of the solid brass issue), but a result of contracting with different manufacturers over time.
They all carry the splayed leg 'M' logo of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. As this logo was adopted for use in 1968, the tokens were logically issued after this date. While the Atwood Coffee catalog attributes the earliest issue date as 1975, the newspaper article and internal information from the TBTA confirms June 29, 1976 as the first time the tokens were released for circulation to the public. Therefore, the date listed in the Atwood Coffee may be the manufacturing date. The manufacturer is unknown at this time.
There are several common factors among all four series of TBTA tokens:
1) all TBTA tokens are medallion orientation;
Tokens illustrated below are shown larger than actual size (unless otherwise noted) for detail but are scaled the same for size comparison.
Token types known are thus:
An example of NY630AU in my collection, as well as others seen; appears to be copper or red brass, as it is reddish brown in color and not yellow as brass tokens in this issue are.
It is postulated, that the different sized tokens for each denomination were designed in this manner for automatic sorting, by passing through progressively larger sorting screens. This aided in the use of automatic sorting and rolling machines. The smallest token (50) would drop first, followed by the next largest, the 75; and finally the 100.
Most of the TBTA tokens above are commonly seen in heavily circulated conditions and are available for purchase via online auction or websites. Minimally circulated tokens carry a premium. Unless gold plated, stamped Tiffany & Co and made into cuff links (I'm being facetious), you should not expect to nor should you pay more than a few dollars for each, price commensurate on condition.
The second issue of TBTA tokens, of which only one denomination is known, the dollar (100). The Atwood Coffee catalog lists an issue date of 1980, and fortunately, the New York Times mentions the release:
While not stated in the article, this token issue features a new design. On the obverse: the TBTA seal (bridge over tunnel over TBTA letters):
and a large M over the large denomination 100 on the reverse, hence the nickname: the "Big M".
It is also with this series that a striped overprinting has first been witnessed, but which is not listed in the Atwood-Coffee Catalog. The method used in application of the stripes is currently unknown: solvent based spray, anodized or electrostatically applied and heat cured powdercoat? Due to the thin light coating of the stripes, I lean towards a solvent based application for this issue, but this is unconfirmed.
An interesting discovery is that the issue with black stripes is significantly more magnetic than other tokens from other issues; and the regular issue token (without stripes) of this issue which is not magnetic at all.
By significantly more magnetic, I mean it really grabs my magnetic screwdriver, whereas the other slightly magnetic issues only lightly attract the tip of the screwdriver. And the pull exerted on my magnet increases the closer it comes to the stripes, as opposed to being a uniform pull around the entire token.
It is without any doubt, those stripes themselves have magnetic properties.
However a New York Times article dated August 17, 1984;"Plague of Pesos Afflicts Token Machines in City" which publicized the disparaging use of slugs and counterfeits in New York City's token machines:
"The Mexican peso, a coin worth half a cent, has become a $132,000-a-year problem for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. The toll machines on the authority's bridges cannot distinguish between the $1.50 tokens they collect and the silver-colored peso. The use of pesos started soon after a new token was introduced with a fare increase in April 1982, authority officials said. Now, about 7,300 pesos are collected from fare machines each month - the equivalent of $11,000 a month in tolls. In an effort to combat the pesos, the authority plans to spend at least $11,600 a month to lease machines designed to distinguish its tokens from slugs, counterfeits and foreign coins."
"The peso, for example, is made from nickel and a sliver of silver, while the authority's tokens are solid brass."
This article creates a question however: no tokens are known to be marked $1.50. Unless the issue with two black stripes is the $1.50 issue? The unabridged article may be read here (pages A1 and B2): New York Time Digital ArchivesIt is also possible that the token with two stripes was created and used to differentiate between regular issue tokens and those that could be purchased by only by Staten Island residents.
As can be read in the June 23, 1983 issue of the New York Times; New York Governor Mario Cuomo signed legislation the previous day granting residents of Staten Island a 25 cent discount on their toll on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. This discount was because they had to pay tolls to enter the borough from either New Jersey or Brooklyn, so those residents that worked out of Staten Island, carried an additional financial burden in residing in Staten Island. This legislation and discounted token offered them some minor financial relief, and was only available to those residing in Staten Island. The New York Times article mentions a sticker that had to be applied to their vehicle that entitled them to purchase a pack of 20 special $1 tokens:
"Governor Cuomo today signed legislation giving Staten Islanders a special 25-cent discount on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge toll...
The full article can be read here (pages A1 and B6): New York Times Digital Archives. And fortunately, we have an image of that sticker:
It is believed but unconfirmed; that the striped variety of tokens are those special tokens, so the question now remains: whether the striped magnetic token was for differentiating between regular and Staten Island Resident issues or it was an anti-counterfeiting measure?
I did inquire of this in my initial email to Ms. Hankins, who in turn passed along the inquiry to both the present and the retired Directors of Revenue Operations with their responses (and my comments in parenthesis):
“The tokens were brass tokens with metallic stripes which were used to prevent counterfeiting of tokens. The exterior of the tokens were copper plated, but sometimes the copper plate wore off and exposed the stripes.
With this; we have unanswered questions pertaining to this issue that remain to be answered.
In terms of collectability, both the regular issue and the striped variety of this issue are seldom seen, with the striped token being far more rare. The regular issue in average circulated issue is worth $5-10, and the striped issue $15 or more.
The third issue tokens removed the numerical denomination from the reverse of the token and replaced it with a list of crossings that that token could be used at. There are two sizes: 25mm for the Minor Crossings (Marine, Henry Hudson, Cross Bay) and 29mm for the Major Crossings:(Triborough, Bronx Whitestone, Verrazano Narrows, Brooklyn Battery, Queens Midtown, Throgs Neck).
Removing the denomination from the token makes logical sense as by this time, the tolls were now being raised on a frequent basis. By removing the denomination, the same token could be sold, regardless of the toll fare in the future, in similar concept to the present US Postal Service "Forever" stamp. Postage can be raised, but the USPS will not have to print new stamps with a different denomination on them, thereby saving money.
And, by having two sizes; the TBTA could accommodate the cost differential between tokens of the major crossings (Triborough Bridge, Bronx Whitestone Bridge, Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Queens Midtown Tunnel, Throgs Neck Bridge), and those of the minor crossings (Marine Parkway Bridge, Henry Hudson Parkway Bridge and the Cross Bay Boulevard Bridge) which cost a lower fare.
The obverse retains the TBTA seal. The large "Major Crossing" issue is now confirmed to have been struck by Roger Williams Mint. It is believed the smaller "Minor Crossing" issue was also, but this is unconfirmed.
White Metal Stripe
We also see a variety of these tokens with a stripe, this time a single 5 millimeter white metal stripe.
While at first, I thought the stripe was applied over the copper plate, and was to denote Rockaway and Staten Island Resident issues.
But that "freak" token I have, got me thinking. The Atwood Coffee defines this issue as copper plated. I would conclude the underlying token material is brass with copper plating, and the brass is showing through as a result of wear. Nothing surprising there, but:
a) Note how the white metal stripe is almost completely worn off from the sunken areas of the obverse (TBTA seal / copper plated side) with remnants of the stripe on the raised rim and letters. Thinking logically would reflect that the stripe would be better protected in the sunken areas and would remain, with the raised areas more prone to rubbing & wear. Yet the opposite has happened.
b) In contrast to this, the stripe is sharp and defined on the reverse (list of crossings / brass) side in both raised and sunken areas.
c) Logic would also dictate the plating on both sides be evenly wear to almost the same degree. It would also be logical to conclude that if the copper plating wore off, so would have the white metal stripe. Does the white metal stripe adhere better to brass than copper?
So this got me thinking - what if the white stripe was under the copper, and it was the copper plating itself that was wearing off? After finally coming to terms with myself in sacrificing a spare NY630BC (Minor Crossings) token, I conducted a little experiment.
Following online instructions for removing copper plate with simple household chemicals, I commenced in doing so: one part 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, two parts White Vinegar (Acetic Acid). After 15 minutes the solution started to very lightly form bubbles on the token. After an hour, the solution took on a light blue tint and the copper plate began to dissolve revealing the white metal stripe and the brass token:
I changed the solution three times over 16 hours. The end result is clear and revealed that the white metal stripe is embedded into the brass stock, and not applied over the copper plate as I originally thought! Therefore a strip of white metal is believed to have been inlaid at the time of rolling the brass stock, and prior to die punching the blank planchets.
When I run my finger over the token, I can even feel a joint or transition between the white metal and the brass, where the white metal stripe is higher than the brass. Breaking out my trusty Herter micrometer (pre-WWII Germany), the thickness of the token at the rim is .069", while the overall thickness on the white metal strip at the rim is .072". This means that the combined thickness of the white metal strip is .003" inches thicker than the token. This equates to .0015" higher per side.
And the copper plating? Just 5 ten thousandths of an inch at its thinnest (on top of the white metal stripe). This explains why the token wears through first at the stripe on the rim and why the stripe appears before the copper plate is worn off.
all dimensions taken at rim of Minor Crossings NY630BC token
rendering: © 2020 P. M. Goldstein
As for the composition of the white metal, it appears to be a lightly magnetic stainless steel (ferritic, not austenitic), and as it did not etch and remained polished with a high luster throughout the duration of the acid bath.
So my initial conclusions previously published here were incorrect: a) the stripe was not applied over the copper plate, and therefore b) the stripe could NOT used to identify discount Resident issues, as it would be hidden under the copper plate. Therefore, it is simply an anti-counterfeiting device.
And yes; while this is all highly technical for just the average collector, this experiment bears out that the white metal stripe variety of tokens aren't a variety at all, just a more worn example of the tokens.
If one watches the online auction listings closely, you will note many tokens have the the metallic stripe in varying degrees of visibility. This is all due to handling. As the copper plating wore off, more and more of the white metal stripe showing through and visible, (and not the other way around with the stripe wearing off).
Remember, a lot of these tokens were used in automated toll booths with catch baskets; so regular use of said token included being roughly handled, not to mention the TBTA's automated counting and rolling machines.
This experiment also explains the existence of that half copper / half brass token in my collection. However it occurred, the copper plate was removed from one side of the token revealing the white metal stripe and the brass.
As a result of this experiment, we can now conclude that all the "List" tokens have that white metal stripe embedded, therefore eliminating the need for a variety listing in Atwood Coffee or here. Therefore, I have removed the stripe variety NY630BCb and NYC630BDb from the table below.
As stated, the fourth issue of tokens is believed to have been minted to replace the striped tokens, but to have been used along side the general issues tokens of the Third Issue.
The TBTA issued this series of tokens in 1994, which are now specially minted in relief (raised) markings on the reverse: ROCKAWAY RESIDENT M around the circumference of the rim, with CROSSBAY AND MARINE PARKWAY in the center, or STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT M around the circumference of the rim, and VERRAZANO NARROWS BRIDGE in the center. The obverse still carries the TBTA Seal in relief.
As for cataloging, these two token issues are now listed in the borough specific listings of the Atwood Coffee: Queens - NY631 Queens and Staten Island - NY632, as opposed to all the previous types all listed under New York City - NY630.
It is also known that the Rockaway Resident tokens could only be purchased at Cross Bay Bridge and Marine Parkway Bridge toll booths; likewise the Staten Island Resident tokens only available at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge toll booths and could only be purchased by those residents with the proper pass or sticker in the car window.
After my initial email, I received a reply from Gibson Olpp; marketing manager for Osborne Coin (successor to Roger Williams Mint).
Made in 1993 for Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority Tokens
5,254,000 - 1.095” Staten Island Token
4,246,300 - 0.895” Rockaway Resident Token
That is as far back as the records go.So, a little more information never hurts. But, as with most research; one question answered finds one more needs to be asked: Roger Williams Mint lists manufacturing size in SAE (inches) - Atwood Coffee has them in millimeters.
From what I am able to gather by reviewing the toll schedules, and following confirmation from Ms. Hankins; the "Resident" tokens were sold and accepted long after the regular issue "List" token were removed from circulation. I, in error; had been under the conclusion all token sales ceased February 3, 1998; but again, I was incorrect.
The resident tokens remained for sale to said residents because of the specific language as stated in the New York State statute, which provided those residents of Staten Island and Rockaway a discounted token. After the physical tokens stopped being accepted in 2017, said residents were eligible for "e-Tokens" as so called in the schedules. As they are still called "tokens", the letter of the law is upheld.
These last two token issues were finally withdrawn from use; first at Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges on April 30, 2017; and by September 30, 2017 at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
Footnotes: weights by author via OHaus triple beam Series 700.
In regards to collectability, the Resident Tokens are more readily seen in much better conditions than that of their previous issue counterparts, as they only issued for approximately 4 years and despite having been circulated for 13 years. However they are a little scarcer in my opinion. Higher grade examples should not cost you more than $10 each.
Triborough Bridge 50th Anniversary Commemorative Issue
While not a true fiscal issue used for paying a toll, George S. Cuhaj offered the following item for inclusion into the topic.
It is a Commemorative Medallion issued for the 50th Anniversary of the Triborough Bridge. Its dimensions are identical with that of the toll issues, but this token is gilt plated (gold). From references it was only issued to employees of the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority. It was issued in the plastic protective case with spacer ring just as you see..
Triborough Bridge 50th Anniversary Commemorative Medallion - 1986
gilt plated, in protective case, issued to employees
Roger Williams Mint
(quantity minted unknown, but under 10,000)
Testing of the E-ZPass RFID toll collection system by the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority began in 1991, as seen in the Staten Island Advance article dated February 26, 1991.
In just seven short years, as seen in the New York Times, token sales ended on February 3, 1998 with the widespread use of E-ZPass (radio frequency transmitter tag) being instituted. The transcribed article reads as follows:
Reading the article a little more carefully, I have realized that general issue token sales stopped at 6 of 9 crossings before the article was written, but remained on sale for Staten Island Residents (Verrazano Narrows Bridge) as well as the Rockaway Residents (Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges).
These Resident only tokens are shown for sale as late as the 2015 toll schedule in the pdf file. The exact date of when sales of these tokens ceased is not yet known. It is therefore not known if sales stopped at the cessation of acceptance at the dates below or some time before.
Eventually, acceptance of the remaining tokens was phased out and ceased as well. This took place on two separate dates, those being: first at Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges; and then at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. The following chart lists said dates accordingly:
Have no fear! Those people that still hold tokens can exchange tokens (but why would you?!?!) through a token refund kit from MTA Bridges & Tunnels.On October 1, 2019; I actually called the phone number on the MTA Bridges & Tunnels website for the token refund kit. The nice lady who answered the telephone took my information and asked how many tokens I would be sending in. I told her none, and there was a pregnant pause on the line. I then explained I was a TBTA toll token collector and only wanted the refund kit as part of my token collection. She was quite amused and said that I was the first one that she ever knew to ever do that!
Undoubtedly, the most "disposable" of the memorabilia: the toll receipt. And perhaps the rarest? Scrip & tokens might have been saved because of intrinsic value, but receipts?
If I could tell you how many were thrown away, and how many I found under the seat of my grandfathers car.
I will not hide the fact that I had an affection for traveling, beginning as a young child. And encouraging this, my father would ask for maps, receipts and other goodies at every toll booth during trips; whether it was just across the bridge or down to Florida. I had a pile of them in a box under the seat of the family van. Verrazano, Goethals, New Jersey Turnpike, Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, you name it. All the way down the East Coast from Brooklyn, New York to Miami Beach, Florida, where my grandparents lived; and New York State Thruway, Southern State Parkway, Palisades Parkway, Garden State Parkway, and the New Jersey Turnpike.
But, like the proverbial box of baseball cards or comic books, they were disposed of during a cleaning session at some point. Mine are probably all decayed under the Fountain Avenue landfill by now. But I have managed to accumulate a few since then.
PDF file of official toll tables - ca. 1938 to present;
for all vehicles classes; all notations, E-ZPass, Carpool, Franchise Buses, Staten Island and Rockaway Resident,
E-Token, Staten Island E-Token and Rockaway E-Token Rates
All vehicle classes are listed for crossing opening; for subsequent toll hikes, only passenger autos are listed.
See .pdf file for tolls for additional vehicle classes, Staten Island & Rockaway Resident, Carpool, E-ZPass and E-token toll discount amounts.
Current Toll Fares TBTA / MTA Crossings
Split tolling return to the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge.
As of December 1, 2020 tolls are once again charged bi-directionally
Tolls will be $9.50 each direction until next fare raise.
New E-ZPass toll rates adopted February 18, 2021. To take effect April 2021:
for Current E-ZPass and Commuter Discount toll amounts, please refer to the MTA Bridges & Tunnels website at: MTA Bridges & Tunnels - Tolls
all text & images: © 2020, 2021 Philip M. Goldstein ~ www.nyctollscrip.info