(Last year, SEPTA took in $197,000 from its transit gift store at 13th and Market in Center City, according to spokesman Andrew Busch.)
Spicer noted that PATCO had no interest in operating a bricks-and-mortar store; Zazzle hosts the virtual PATCO emporium for free. The California company produces the promotional doodads on demand and keeps 90 percent of the price of purchases, which range from $9.95 for a small tote bag to $29.95 for the aforementioned neckwear.
Puzzles, mouse pads, and clocks also are available; the transit agency gets a 10 percent cut of the price of all items. PATCO markets the merchandise in-house.
Selling space on the tickets may prove more lucrative. PATCO will earn $5,000 by selling Rutgers space on a month's worth, or about 200,000, tickets. The 14.2-mile line connects South Jersey and Center City and carries 37,280 riders on an average weekday.
"City Hall station is one short block from the Rutgers-Camden campus, [so] it simply makes sense to remind PATCO commuters of this convenient opportunity to earn their Rutgers degree," spokesman Mike Sepanic said. "The Rutgers School of Business is taking advantage of this chance to reinforce the Rutgers brand."
"I'm all for that," says Rutgers-New Brunswick alumnus J. William Vigrass, who helped build PATCO and retired from the system as assistant general manager in 1988.
The Cherry Hill resident, 82, well remembers how resolutely uncommercial the trains used to be.
"General manager Robert B. Johnston wouldn't hear of it," Vigrass recalls. "He didn't want his cars defaced."
Johnston died in 2001, at 80. Vigrass is diplomatic about the branding effort.
"I can't say that it's bad. Let's say I'm in favor of it," he says. "As long as it's done in good taste."
Those trucker hats, conventional T's, and standard key chains are as utilitarian as PATCO's original cars.
And as a longtime rider who remembers when the fleet was less than a decade old - and was saddened when the line began to show its age - I'm heartened by the improvements of recent years.
The online store sounds like something other public agencies might emulate. As long as, say, the Camden County Soil Conservation District or, heaven forbid, the Cinnaminson Sewerage Authority don't start selling souvenirs.
Contact Kevin Riordan at 856-779-3845 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at www.phillynews.com/blinq.