Starting April 16, Port Authority customers who use the ConnectCard will be able to load cash or passes onto their cards using a new website, instead of visiting vending machines or retailers.
The new web portal will allow users to use a credit or debit card to add cash; buy passes; set up recurring passes that will automatically bill the relevant card; and let riders to manage multiple ConnectCards from a single account (such as parents who want to add virtual cash to a child's card).
But as I've noted before
— and Port Authority acknowledged in the press release it issued today — none of this will happen in real time.
"Purchases made online will not instantly be available on the ConnectCard and may take 2-3 days to process, especially if a purchase is made on a Friday or over a weekend," according to a press release.
That's because the buses aren't equipped with technology that allows them to wirelessly communicate with the servers that house ConnectCard balances. The physical fare boxes on each vehicle will only sync when they pass through a garage.
Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie has previously said that the transit agency is considering other methods to make the ConnectCard more attractive since many passengers still use cash. One option, he said, might be to target fare increases at cash users.
In the meantime, here's hoping this encourages some riders to abandon the agonizingly slow pockets-full-of-quarters fare payment system.