While the elimination of the free, downtown bus service may be missed by some, it will, according to TriMet, make taking the bus "less confusing" since most buses go beyond the free area. However, the same can be said of the Light Rail Transit known as MAX.
Fareless Square "was created in 1975 to reduce emissions and auto traffic in the downtown area. Though it has attracted transit users, the square has been faulted for encouraging crime and annoyances on buses and trains. It also made it difficult to collect fares from bus riders who may board in Fareless Square but continue on beyond the zone."
"The Free Rail Zone includes most of downtown Portland (within the boundaries of the Willamette River, NW Irving and I-405), as well as MAX stations from the Rose Quarter to Lloyd Center. Look for Free Rail Zone emblems at rail stations within these boundaries."
From Why we changed Fareless Square to the Free Rail Zone, August 2009:
"This summer, we held open houses and asked for public feedback on the rail-only proposal, resulting in more than 600 comments. 51% supported changing Fareless Square to rail-only, while 21% wanted to keep it as-is, 11% supported eliminating it completely, and 9% wanted to keep a fare-free zone in some form."
Thanks to Ed Braddy