By Eric Stevick
The Everett Herald
EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Fiji showed up the other day.
It is the latest currency to land in the Everett Transit fare box.
The problem is the transit agency runs on U.S. dollars and coins — not kronas, loonies and pesos.
While some people try to evade fares altogether, others either intentionally or unknowingly plink foreign coins and other round metal objects into the box.
Many of the coins from hither and yon find a spot on a world map on a wall at the Everett Transit center.
In the last few years, 50 coins representing different countries from six continents have made it onto the map.
Island countries — Barbados, Cuba and French Polynesia to name a few — are well represented, too.
“It’s people putting in whatever they have in their pockets and calling it a fare,” said Tom Hingson, Everett Transit’s director.
It doesn’t just happen in Everett. Community Transit has fished out coins from Azerbaijan to the United Arab Emirates. In any given month, it collects roughly $12 in Canadian coins that must be exchanged.
“We also have a variety of tokens ranging from Chuck E. Cheese to Woody’s Car Wash,” said Martin Munguia, a spokesman for Community Transit.
Ah, tokens. Everett Transit has collected its share of them.
Hingson rattles off from the list: Wonderland Golf Course of Spokane, Kelly’s Espresso of Sacramento, California, the Narrows Plaza in Seattle, Weiss Guys of Phoenix, Arizona, the Detroit bus system, U Car Wash of Adams, Massachusetts, Air Canada in Toronto “and of course, Chuck E. Cheese.”
At first glance they can look remarkably like nickels and quarters, particularly when gazing at them through glass.
“I can see why things could go in and look like real money,” Hingson said.
There also has been the old sheet-metal punch plug.
Some coins dropped in the box pique the imagination.
Everett Transit has recovered World War II-era steel pennies, British crowns and half crowns and a coin from the pre-World War II, U.S-occupied Philippines.
“Our oldest coin is a 1927 Canadian nickel that appears to be in mint condition,” Hingson said.
It’s not always coins that give transit workers pause.
A few years back, a rider gave a driver a 15-cent ticket that said “full fare” on it. At the time, the bus fare was 75 cents.
The ticket he possessed was one of many he had found dating back to the 1960s, to an era before Everett Transit existed as a public agency.
“We had to honor it since it didn’t have an expiration date,” Hingson said.
The agency ultimately worked out a deal to exchange current tickets of similar value for the old ones. (end)