Metra tickets, 1990–1991
Every month, Chicago’s commuter rail system releases a new ticket design. We examine the typographic diversity found in this batch of early 1990s ephemera from the collection of Nick Rougeux.
C82 is the website of Nicholas Rougeux, a Chicago-based designer and data artist. One of the many great things one can find on C82 is his collection of train tickets sold by Metra. Every month, the commuter rail system in the Chicago metropolitan area releases a new ticket design. In 2004, Nick started collecting. Over the years, and with the help from other ephemera enthusiasts as well as of Metra, the archive considerably grew in size. At the time of writing, it includes an impressive 1,395 tickets, spanning more than fifty years of commuter history.
This post highlights the monthly tickets from 1990 and 1991. In a recent blog update, Nick comments:
In the early 90s, ticket designs varied significantly with new typography and visual styles appearing each month. I can’t say these are some of my favorites but I recognize that this may have been in an effort to curb counterfeiting. However, I do enjoy some of the typography from the 1990s tickets. I owe a big thanks to fellow collector John for these and others.
Each of the tickets features a different typeface. Many of the chosen fonts stem from the libraries of ITC (Korinna, Quorum, Serif Gothic, Zapf Chancery, …) and Letraset (Caxton, Italia, Romic, …). There are also classics that go back to the era of foundry type, like Beton, City, or Optima, and Monotype originals like Albertus and Plantin. The typographic smorgasbord is completed by designs as diverse as Moderne Schwabacher, a turn-of-the-century blackletter; Salut, an upright script first cast by Gebr. Klingspor in the 1930s; and Checkmate, a futuristic sans with chamfered corners, dreamt up at Schaedler in the 1970s – all of which were either used still as phototype, or in the form of early digitizations.
For the year 1990, all abbreviated month names are shown in vertically stretched letterforms. The source of the stacked numerals (“90”) was identified by Quinn as City Bold, see comments. The bitmap caps (“D/A”) are likely custom. While the spelled-out month names and the ticket numbers are similar to OCR-B, the specific font appears to be a proprietary design with some differences, probably from a specialized printing machine.
- Ephemera (985)
- unknown (3093)