That's about to change, as Port Authority gets ready to implement a new system that would allow riders to pay the fare through an app on their smartphones.
Next week, Port Authority will begin to install hardware on a small percentage of buses so employees can test the function of the system. The public won't be able to use the system during the initial test. If all goes well on the 50 test buses, Port Authority will fully install the hardware on all 720 buses, plus the light rails and inclines.
The system will include a mobile app where customers can purchase various types of fares, including single trip, weekly, and monthly passes. Riders can pay for the fare on the app and use it as a digital bus pass and scan it when they board the bus. The app, however, will function separately from the ConnectCard, so bus fare purchased on the app will not transfer to a physical card, and vice versa.
According to a press release, the hardware and software for the system will cost the authority about $2 million. The app is set to be available to the public sometime later this year.
This addition is only the latest in a series of updates to technology at the Port Authority. In October, it announced a new fleet of buses that would have electrical outlets. In December, it was announced that free WiFi across its buses.