SEPTA officials announced Wednesday that they planned to award a roughly $100 million contract within the next two months for a new fare-payment system.
At a news conference at the agency's Center City headquarters, spokesman Richard Maloney said the system would let passengers pay with credit cards, debit cards, cellphones, or electronic SEPTA cards.
The system will likely take several years to install, officials said.
John McGee Jr., SEPTA's chief officer for new payment technologies, said introducing the system on buses, trolleys, and subways would involve few changes.
"We will replace the turnstiles. We'll put readers near fare boxes, but not a lot will change," McGee said.
He said that Regional Rail lines presented different challenges and that "SEPTA will be the first agency to introduce modern fare-payment systems to regional rails in the United States."
SEPTA officials said the agency engaged the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group devoted to the region's prosperity, to conduct two meetings with stakeholders from around the region in May and June to discuss alternative fare payment strategies for the rail system. Stakeholders include county organizations and rider groups.
The group considered three payment options, including the current system, a ticket-vending-machine option, and a gated system using barriers or turnstiles.
A committee recommended a gated system in which riders would pay fares coming into and leaving Center City.
SEPTA is inviting interested individuals to take an online survey on the new fare system at the SEPTA website, www.septa.org.