The few times that I’ve used the light rail to get to work faster (when I sleep in!) I’ve received dollar coins as my change. This got me thinking about the situation with coins in the US.
On a trip to Israel and England last year I found that their currencies had far more coins of larger value. I found myself using coins much more. Being unaccustomed to using so many coins it was strange at first, but I began to adapt and by the end of two weeks I was much more comfortable with the idea. This has got me to thinking… why won’t Americans accept the dollar coin? We’ve had so many of them, yet they’re never used in general circulation.
Consider the situation with light rail. If I take paper bills I run the risk of being unable to get the machine to successfully accept my money. Bill readers are notoriously unreliable! If I take quarters I have to feed the machine eight quarters. The time to do this is small, though still annoying, not to mention the bulk of six extra coins.
Today, with much trepidation, I tried one of my dollar coins in the vending machine at work. Success! It recognized it! That is MUCH easier than feeding a bunch of quarters, nickles, and dimes!
Considering that the average lifetime of a coin is something like 30 years, vs less than two years for a dollar bill, and that it’s 100% recyclable, vs something like 20% for paper bills, the dollar coin is even more appealing. Though, I wonder how the transportation emissions to move the coins from the US mint to the various banks compares.
I think that the next time I go to the bank I’m going to ask for a roll of dollar coins to start spending, especially on the transit vending machines!