Commuters may soon be able to get around with just a mobile phone and app.
A number of regional councils and transport organisations have formed a working group to look at future ticketing options for buses, trains and ferries.
Project Next chairman Wayne Hastie said there were about 16 different ticketing systems around the country with little choice in the way passengers pay.
He said the idea was to pay using one system.
"It will give customers the ability to pay for their public transport in most places in New Zealand using their mobile phone, credit or debit card, or a single nationally issued transit card," Mr Hastie said.
The working group was asking for expressions of interest from companies which could provide the ticketing technology.
Once it gets up and moving, New Zealand would join other countries, such as the Netherlands and Switzerland, by offering one integrated transport system.
Commuters in Wellington would be the first to try it out from 2021, with other regions to follow.
Paula Warren, a spokesperson for the Public Transport Voice group, said it was well overdue.
"Very late... NZTA did a pilot in Auckland years ago... and that was suppose to flow on to cities like Wellington and it never did," she said.
Paula Warren said the replacement system needed to fair and reward public transport use.
"If you use the services frequently, you're not penalised, you're actually rewarded for that... so systems with caps for example... so that once you've used your card a certain number of times... after that you don't pay for public transport for the rest of the week or month is a good idea," she said.