Have a stash of old TTC Metropasses? An east-end artist wants them for colourful collages

Seasoned transit riders with an aging stockpile of soon-to-be-extinct TTC Metropasses have a chance to help turn the useless plastic into colourful works of art.

TTC to phase out monthly Metropasses by end of the year

Nina Okens cuts up old TTC Metropass cards to make colourful transit-themed collages. (Submitted by Nina Okens)

Experienced transit riders with an aging stockpile of soon-to-be-extinct TTC Metropasses have a chance to help turn the useless plastic into colourful works of art. 

Nina Okens, a Toronto hobbyist who transforms odds and ends into visual art, put out a call on social media this week seeking old Metropasses to use in her ongoing series of transit-themed collages.

"I'm not really sure where the idea came from. But I've been saving them for 20 years, thinking eventually I would think of something to make with them," she said in an interview with Metro Morning on Thursday. 

The plastic fare cards have been in use on the TTC's network since the 1990s, with a new version appearing each month. They often featured depictions of city landmarks and street art. But the passes are set to be permanently phased-out by year's end, with Presto cards officially taking their place. 

Okens, a long-time east-ender, has her own collection of Metropasses dating back to 1998, the year she moved to the city. 

Your monthly Metropass may not hold much value once the month is over, but as the iconic transit cards are phased out at the end of this year, one Toronto woman wants to turn your commute into art. 5:54

"I just couldn't bear to part with them. I thought they were so pretty," she said. 

But now she needs a fresh supply to fashion new works. 

Okens started with her own Metropass collection, which dates back to 1998. Now she needs a new supply of the cards to make more works of art. (Submitted by Nina Okens)

"I've been slowly working through my own stash, and my own friends from work have been giving me some, as well," ​she explained, adding that she's run out of red ones. 

Okens struck a deal with a number of coffee shops, including one in the west end (Fantail) and three in the east end (Lazy Daisy's Cafe, Rooster Coffee House and Sweat & Soda) where people can drop off their old Metropass collections for her. 

Each small collage takes about eight hours to complete, while bigger works can several days to craft. Okens said she hopes that contributions from the public could facilitate making even more elaborate pieces. 

A mosaic of the TTC subway network is currently on offer for purchase through an online auction to raise money for the Hanlan Boathouse, while a word search collage will be available through a fundraiser for the Morse Street Junior Public School in the coming weeks. 

Okens said that a six-inch by six-inch collage generally takes about eight hours to complete. (Submitted by Nina Okens)