Two years ago, T riders were told to get ready for the future — and an overhaul of the entire fare system for buses, subways, trolleys and the commuter rail. Cash would no longer be accepted aboard any of the vehicles, and riders would have to buy tickets or recharge a new type of Charlie Card at kiosks slated to be installed at stations and near bus stops. Riders would also be able to pay with credit cards or smartphones.

The goal, the MBTA said, was to make boarding go faster — by pre-paying for tickets, riders could board through both the front and back doors of trolleys and buses.

“[We predict] up to a 10 percent improvement in speeds of our buses, because it so significantly reduces the time it takes to get on and off of buses,” David Block-Schachter, the MBTA’s now-departed chief technology officer said at the contract’s signing in 2017.

The $723 million deal to handle the fare collection system, dubbed AFC2.0, was inked with Cubic Transportation Systems of San Diego, along with its financial partner, the John Laing Group of London. Cubic would run the system for more than a decade, and the contract called for it to be up and running by 2021.

But last spring, both Cubic and the T said the project would be delayed, declining to explain why. More than six months later, a pilot program and testing scheduled for this year have failed to materialize, and the project is solidly behind.

And it's not just the public that hasn’t been told the reason for the delay. Transit groups that sit on the MBTA’s ad hoc AFC2.0 working group say they’ve been left in the dark as well.

“We’ve been paying attention and all of a sudden it just drops off the radar,” said Lee Matsueda, co-executive director of Community Labor United, a grassroots coalition that calls for fare equity. Their discussions with the T have included figuring out ways to handle cash for those who don’t have smartphones or credit cards.

“Right now, there hasn’t been much of a report back of what we should be expecting. All we know is we’re not on a timeline to have a system piloted, and ... there’s going to be severe delays, of not just the pilot but the final program,” Matsueda said.

Stacy Thompson, executive director of the LivableStreets Alliance, which is also a member of the AFC2.0 Working Group, also said she hasn’t been told why the program is delayed. She said one reason may be uncertainty about how exactly the T will check and enforce fares when riders board buses, trolleys and the commuter rail. Thompson said there’s a real fear of racial profiling or civil rights violations, if fare checkers or police are perceived to be enforcing the new rules for one group of riders and not another.

“It doesn’t matter how ambitious the plan is or how great the technology,” she said. “We’re still going to have problems.”

So what’s causing the delay? T spokesman Joe Pesaturo remained tight-lipped, saying in a statement, “the MBTA is unable to adhere to the original timetable.”

Pesaturo said an update will be presented to the T’s Fiscal Management and Control Board next Monday.

As for riders, those already frustrated with the system say delays have become expected.

“I’m not surprised that it’s late,” said Asia Clark, who uses a Charlie Card to ride the Green and Red Lines, and uses her phone to board the commuter rail. She said she was looking forward to one seamless way of paying. But she’s not holding her breath.

“There’s a lot of things with the T that don’t happen on time,” Clark joked.