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Environment Canterbury approved the move this week as part of the rollout of the National Ticketing Solution (NTS) on the Greater Christchurch Metro Network.
Spokesperson Thomas McNaughton said operators had advocated to remove cash to help reduce incidents and safety complaints on buses and ferries.
"Over the last 18 months, Environment Canterbury staff have worked closely with operators and other partners to improve network safety for both staff and customers.
This has been in response to an increase in incidents and complaints around safety," he said.
The move would double as a national pilot in cashless public transport.
Currently, about 12 per cent of trips on the Greater Christchurch Metro Network are paid for in cash.
There were a variety of reasons customers made that decision, he said.
Under the NTS, customers will be able to pay by debit/credit card, NTS pre-paid card, or smart devices.
Cash could still be used to top-up pre-paid cards at service centres, and card purchases and top-ups would be available through an extended network of retail outlets, he said.
There would be further communication around cashless payments in the lead-up to the transition to the new system.