Funny money

I don’t know where I’ve been for the last years, but I just didn’t know that there exists a secret currency for bus users.  How neat.

I’ve just found out about them.  Maybe it’s me, but I’d never heard of ‘National Transport Tokens’ before.  ‘National Transport Tokens’ are coins of ‘money’, but ‘money’ that can only be spent on the bus (or, I think, the train).  They come in £1, 50p, 20p and 10p coins.  On boarding a bus you hand the tokens over just as you would hand over normal money.  You can also use some of the tokens and add real cash, as long as the combined total equals the fare.

How can I not have known about these before?  I mean, as a radio anorak I have had, over the years, to rub shoulders with some of the ultimate bus anoraks.  In many a 16 hour conversation, I’d have thought they’d have come up.  I mean, I know all about issuing emergency tickets when the machine’s stopped working, and stuff like that, but never a mention of the ‘National Transport Token’.  This has to have been a secret the bus anoraks wanted to keep from me, because I’m sure they’d have been collecting the coins.  They seem to have a variety of different transport related pictures engraved onto the back (or is it the face?) of them.  I would have thought the bus anoraks would have strived to collect all the set.  So, why did they keep it from me, eh?  Was it they feared leading me down a criminal path?

As far as I can tell, this ‘funny money’ is handed out to students at some colleges to assist their travel costs (well, at least this is the case in the Merseyside area), but it could equally be given to pensioners or those needing or qualifying for subsistence, but not qualifying for a full-time free pass.

When first shown the coins I immediately started wondering how easy they are to make compared to the coins of the realm.  I’m pretty sure that one can be locked up in the Tower of London or beheaded for producing counterfeit official currency, but what are the rules about tooling up to produce copy travel tokens?

As far as I can see, there’s a private company that produces them.  They sell them to places, like the colleges or local authorities (I wonder how much more they have to pay than the face value) and the company buys them back from the bus service operators (I wonder how much less they get for them than the face value) on a monthly basis.

So, it seems to me that I could manufacture them and flood the market with them, with the original company only able to sue me in a civil action which doesn’t include any beheading as a punishment.  Now, I could embark on this money-making (literally!) venture by speaking to the bus operators and selling them, say, £1Million face value of coins for, say, £500,000.  No one loses.

Or, maybe if the companies were a little twitchy about doing such a thing themselves, I could approach the individual bus drivers and swap up their real cash for my copy tokens at half their face value.  Once again no one loses.

If they were a little worried, then maybe my answer would be the hang around school gates, alongside the dope peddlers, selling them to the kids directly.  Oh no, I can’t do that, I forgot, there’s a court order not allowing me within 50 metres of schools.  But, as a concept this would work, surely?

I mean, with so many different weirdo things being printed onto real money, sometimes it’s hard to work out if it’s fake.  No chance with this funny money.  But equally, it doesn’t appear to have specific weights and the other things that can be easily measured in real money, so I doubt anybody’s really checking to see if it’s fake.

This is definitely my best money making scheme so far.  I need distributors in other areas though.  Who’s with me?