NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Subway and bus riders in New York City may soon be saying goodbye to their MetroCards.

The MTA is working on a plan to phase out the MetroCard over three years, replacing it with a new fare payment system. It will likely be touch-free technology that will allow riders to pay using their smartphones or bank cards.

The agency wants to begin phasing in the new system in 2016 or 2017, wiping out the MetroCard by 2019 or 2020.

But an independent consultant contracted by the authority told board members the agency should budget for more time. He says MTA’s peers in North America have taken 5 to 10 years to implement a new system.

MTA officials are determined to move on, saying in a statement:

“We are aware it is an aggressive schedule, but at this point we believe it is achievable and want to hold ourselves to our current schedule as a reachable goal.”

That said, the MTA is preparing for delays and is taking steps to secure funding to keep MetroCards through 2023.

But a spokesman says it’s only a matter of when, not if, the iconic cards will become a part of city history.

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