SEPTA tokens are becoming a thing of the past as SEPTA stopped selling tokens last month as part of its transitions to the SEPTA Key. But if you miss those little metal discs, you can still get them – in jewelry form.
Token of Affection, a three-woman business based in the Philly area, opened in recent months and has been making a brisk business selling their unique pieces of jewelry and other accessories like keychains, all made out of transit tokens.
“For a lot of people, tokens have been a part of their life,” said Anita Mastroieni, 53, a Roxborough native who is one of the co-founders of Token of Affection. “I’ve used those tokens my whole life, and I’m going to miss using them, I’m going to miss seeing them.”
Mastroieni, along with two lifelong friends, Bernadette Moyer and main jewelry designer Sally Ludwig, all felt such an affinity for the SEPTA token, they decided to find a way to give them new life in jewelry. The three were high school friends who lived in different neighborhoods across the city, Ludwig in North Philly and Moyer in Kensington.
“We would ride SEPTA back and forth to visit each other. Our relationships were all forged using tokens and riding SEPTA,” Mastroieni said. “When SEPTA decided to discontinue them, it was like, ‘Wait, we’re losing this?'”
The company has expanded to create pieces with the defunct SEPTA ‘school tokens,’ which were slightly smaller tokens exclusively sold at Philly schools to students. They’ve also made and sold jewelry with tokens from other cities’ transit systems, including as far away as Wichita, Kansas.
“As archaic as those tokens seem to be, I think people are going to miss them. ” she said. “A lot of our business is from people who no longer live in Philadelphia, but grew up in the area. For them, it’s sort of a reminder of where they came from.”
Philly was one of the last cities in North America to sell and accept tokens in its transit system. Tokens are still accepted, sold at third-party retailers, and distributed through some social service agencies, but SEPTA doesn’t sell them, as of April 30. Toronto still uses tokens, but Boston, DC, and New York City all discontinued tokens years ago.
“For folks like my friends and I, SEPTA was part of your formative years … It represented freedom for many of us in the city,” she said. “There’s a lot of nostalgia wrapped up in that.”
What’s new with SEPTA Key
The latest victim of the SEPTA Key was announced on Monday: paper SEPTA transfers.
The $1 paper transfers will be discontinued Aug. 1, and from that date on, riders must pay for transfers using your SEPTA Key, the transit agency said. Third-party sales of tokens and magnetic strip passes also will end Aug. 1.
Keys first were activated in June 2016. “SEPTA has taken a deliberate, gradual approach to phasing out its outdated legacy fare instruments, while educating customers about the benefits of switching to the Key,” the transit agency said in a press release.
New Keys cost $4.95. The SEPTA Key ‘chip’ card can be loaded with a weekly/monthly TransPass, a one-day convenience pass, or you can pay per fare using the Travel Wallet. SEPTA Keys registered online can also be protected from theft. SEPTA is planning to expand SEPTA Key sales offices.
To learn more, visit septa.org/key.