For 44 years it cost a five cents to ride a bus or subway and all riders needed to get on board was a nickel. When the fare rose to 10 cents in 1948, the city refit the turnstiles to accept dimes. In 1953, when the fare rose to 15 cents, engineers could not figure out how to make a turnstile operate with a dime and nickel or three nickels. To solve the problem, they devised their own 15-cent currency. That is how first token in New York city public transportation came to be. Here is an image of 1953 token:
On one side was the legend “Good for One Fare,” on the other “New York City Transit Authority.” In the center were the letters “NYC” with the “Y” cut out.
That token lasted 17 years, surviving a fare hike to 20 cents.