The MBTA has begun a series of public meetings to get input on its plan for a better way to collect money from passengers. The idea is to install an automated fare system within the next two years.

There is one group of riders for whom that will be a hard sell. At one meeting in Roxbury, residents were concerned that cash would no longer be accepted on buses.

Will Justice is a member of the T Riders Union. He said people in low-income communities cannot easily apply for credit or debit cards.

"They trust the cash system a lot better, and now you're telling them, 'No, you can't pay for whatever you need [with cash]. You have to go to this place or that place [to get a card]," Justice said.

Mela Miles, lead community organizer of the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, said the end of cash — especially on buses — will deter some from using the T.

"People do not want their personal business to be out there if they may be undocumented or something, and its going to send more people into hiding," she said.

Stacy Thompson, executive director of LivableStreets, a transit advocacy group, praised the T's efforts to make paying fares simpler. However, she said that new technology isn't going to solve some of the biggest fare-related problems for the people most in need of public transportation.

"A large number of people who use the system are low-income, and we don't have a low-income fare," she said. "There are conversations around distance based fares, but we're displacing people further out of the core, and technology isn't going to solve those bigger questions."

Justice said upgrading the system shouldn't burden those least able to afford it.

"The fare is almost $3 already," he said. "They're about to [raise it] again for technology and they're talking about putting the technology in other places, the upkeep of this technology is going to cost money."

The new fare collection system will cost lots of money — $750 million — but T officials say it's needed to make the fare collection system easier to use, so more fares are collected and the commute is faster.

The cash issue is just one of many the MBTA must consider as it works on its new automated fare collection system. There will be more public hearings before it is rolled out.