The new card-reading software will accommodate current and new Freedom cards, PATCO general manager John Rink said.
The new cards will be purchased this summer as supplies of existing cards are exhausted. Riders will get the new cards when they replace their existing Freedom cards, which expire after 10 years of use.
Eventually, PATCO expects its system to be able to read the smart cards that will soon be accepted on SEPTA's subways, buses, trolleys, and trains.
For now, however, a card smart enough to work on both sides of the Delaware River is still on the wish list.
SEPTA plans to start its system this year, with test runs this summer and public use by fall. Regional Rail use will follow in late 2014.
In SEPTA's "open" system, riders will be able to use any bank-issued, computer-chip-equipped "contactless" card, such as a MasterCard or Visa card. SEPTA will also issue its own contactless card.
A "contactless" card, which contains a computer chip and an antenna, allows a user to make a payment by merely holding the card close to an electronic reader.
"We are looking to work with SEPTA," said DRPA chief executive John Matheussen. "We want to make sure we coordinate our efforts."
SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said passengers on the two transit systems won't be able to use a single card immediately.
"Eventually, they will. The technology will be compatible," Maloney said. "But agreements will have to be worked out, and those haven't been approached yet."