SEPTA: fake tokens ‘very rare’ but not impossible to come across

    Every now and then you’ll get change the store and find a Canadian penny in the mix. No big deal; the penny looks just like U.S. currency and only the most observant cashier would notice the difference when you tried to pass it off later.

    But there is no Canadian penny equivalent of fake SEPTA tokens. Get a bum token in your pack and there’s no way that thing will make the turnstyle work. So then how do the phonies end up sealed in your token pack in the first place?

    The most likely explanation? “Somebody put a fake token in the machine and it got repackaged,” SEPTA press officer Andrew Busch explains.


    Though the mix-up happens pretty rarely, Busch says the coins and tokens from SEPTA machines get taken to a third-party packaging site where they’re sorted by weight.

    See that laundromat token to the right? It came wrapped tight in a pack of tokens I bought a few months ago. It’s similar to the one Behavioral Health reporter Maiken Scott got recently. It must have weighed just about what a token weighs and ended up sealed in with the real deals.

    SEPTA revenue attendants take the tokens and coins to be sorted and bundled into the appropriately sized packs. Packaging Services, Inc., a large company with facilities in Connellsville, and McAdoo, Pa., puts the tokens in those plastic wraps you buy from SEPTA.

    So what do you do if you get a non-token?

    “Make sure you examine them right at the point of purchase,” Busch advises. Once you walk away from the desk, the token purchase is considered final. While Busch says SEPTA is “not inflexible” when it comes to working with customers short a token, walking up to a booth with several non-tokens in your hand won’t get you very far.

    If you’ve ever gotten a non-token from SEPTA, tell us where, when and how. Have a photo? Even better. Use that Feed the Feed feature to the right of the page, or email us directly.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal