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Friday fun trivia: what the heck is this SeaBus token?

Friday fun trivia: what the heck is this SeaBus token?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to see an old-school SeaBus token and help figure out its story!

Results from last week: what years is this ticket from, part 2

OK, so last week I asked you to tell me what year this ticket was from.

An old ticket!
An old ticket!

Congrats to Reva who caught it right away, given the presence of a certain logo:

I’d say this is from 1990, given the Centennial Celebration logo watermark in the background. Ah, high school memories… :) I think I actually have one of these in my limited transfer collection.

Well done to Eric, Dennis, Kevin Ellis, and Chris Yee too for also pointing out the right year!

Yes, the Centennial Celebration logo is the right marker: in 1990, B.C. Transit celebrated 100 years of transit in Vancouver and Victoria. There were a number of celebrations and contests, including a special “Transit Centennial Centre” in Stadium SkyTrain Station. (Here’s the Centennial Centre pamphlet!)

As Reva also pointed out in the comments, special Buzzers with historical content were also produced in 1990. Here’s the ones I have on hand: January 12, February 23, March 23, and June 26.

Okay, now about the ticket itself: I had to talk to four or five people to just get the basic info on this ticket. Special thanks to Derek Cheung, Rob Chew, and John Wollenzin for their help!

Briefly though: in 1990, when you purchased a ticket, it was valid for 90 minutes in one direction only. The operator punched the centre columns for the route number (eg. #3 would punch 003) and then “E” or “W” depending which direction you were travelling.

Spec indicated a “special” bus, such as one assigned to pick up the crowds out of Exhibition Park. Grge was a bus headed for the garage. And Last Section… well, it was used when you were on a route that might let you get away with travelling in both directions. Derek Cheung explains it:

The “Last Section” was used to indicate that the transfer was issued on the latter half of the trip, meant for trolley routes travelling through downtown. In fact the boundary for issuing “Last Section” punched transfers was Homer Street.

Example: the 20 Granville/Victoria line was a U-shaped route which crossed 49th Avenue twice: at Victoria, and at Granville. I lived near 49th & Victoria, so I could conceivably board a northbound “20 Granville” on Victoria to head downtown (transfer issued would have been punched 020, E, Zone 1), do my business then board another “20 Granville” bus to 49th & Granville, then transfer to an eastbound #49 to get home, all on one transfer. The fact that this transfer wasn’t punched “Last Section” would indicate to the #49 operator that I did not originate my trip downtown and I was technically making a return trip.

Confused?

The zone map from 1990. Click for a larger version!
The zone map from 1990. Click for a larger version!

Rob Chew helped out with a zone map to identify how the zones used to work, too. Check out the picture at right. There were basically 6 zones and 36 different possibilities for zone origin and destination! And you thought our current system was complicated….

This week: what the heck is this SeaBus token?

OK, this one is genuinely a “What on earth is this?” question. I’ve dug up some SeaBus tokens from 1979 — can anyone remember how they were used way back when?

Front side of the SeaBus token
Front side of the SeaBus token
Back side of the SeaBus token
Back side of the SeaBus token

It’s about the size of a quarter in real life. Click both photos for larger versions. Let me know if you have any ideas, and I’ll see what I can dig up on these tokens by next week!