Remembering the original SeaBus fare machines and their long photocopied coin receipts

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Burrard Pacific Breeze departing Lonsdale.For the first time since the original two vessels were launched in the 1970s, Vancouver has a new SeaBus passenger ferry, the Burrard Pacific Breeze, in operation since the end of last year. (Lame name: the previous two are the Burrard Beaver and the Burrard Otter. Should have stuck with the aquatic mammal theme, I say.)

The two pioneering SeaBuses have been remarkably reliable for well over 30 years. When they premiered in 1977 with their flashy full-orange paint jobs, the system included the city's first automated fare machines—ancestors of the units now found on every one of our buses and at every SkyTrain station. Those introductory units in the two terminal buildings were a bit more primitive, yet delightful. I'm not sure how long they were in use, but they were certainly gone by the mid-'80s.

They were essentially photocopiers. You'd drop your change into them, push a big round plastic button, and the machine would spit out a long, cash-register–style receipt that showed black and white images of every coin used for your fare. This was before Canada had dollar or two-dollar coins in regular circulation, and before transit fares were high enough that anyone would need to use bills.

So if you paid with pennies—as you could, and as kids like me often wanted to do—you'd get a really long receipt (sometimes a metre or more) with dozens of photocopied pennies on it, which you'd have to roll up or fold and carry with you as proof of purchase. I kept many of mine in my room for awhile, and wish I'd preserved one for posterity—although I suspect the images might have faded to nothingness by now.


Yep. doing it with pennies was fun...

I can remember doing that. Can also remember being very disappointed if the image of the coin wasn't complete.

Loved those machines with the big button!

You know if you dropped the pennies in some of the machines - really really fast it would spew out the entire roll of paper.

Wonder if Translink has those machines around anywhere?

Great post.

Just in case you're interested, there's a picture of the machine and some more anecdotes about using them on the Buzzer blog :)

Sadly, the transit enthusiasts who explained the machine to me said the tickets were made out of thermal paper, which doesn't keep well over the long run. Nobody could produce a ticket example to show off!

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