The TriMet board voted 6-1 in August to start charging for buses in the zone, saying the new system would help the agency by bringing in additional revenue.
Yet TriMet still gives away free MAX rides, still subsidizes the City of Portland Streetcar (which is not a TriMet function) to the tune of $3 million annually - with an additional $2 million earmarked for eastside loop operations, gives away free Vintage Trolley rides, gives away free parking at the Park & Ride Lots (most of which are near MAX stations), stopped charging for boarding bikes on the bus bike racks, and still pays some $20 to $30 per boarding ride for WES because its costs are astronomical.
TriMet continues to employ staff whose job is to do nothing but plan capital intensive MAX lines to Milwaukie and Vancouver; while we have one of the oldest, least reliable, most maintenance-intensive, and most fuel-guzzing, carbon polluting bus fleets in the United States; many of the buses which carry full loads (and when doing so, actually return a profit to TriMet).
TriMet had no problem paying "retention bonuses" to managers who ended up leaving TriMet, buying transit supervisors shiny new sport utility vehicles, and spends millions on "art". And TriMet added a "Mall Shuttle" MAX train whose job is to do nothing but run circles up and down the Transit Mall - even though there are already Green and Yellow Line trains which do the same thing every 7-8 minutes. Each of those shuttle trains runs entirely in fareless square, so those trains cost TriMet over $300 per hour to run, and collect not a single penny in revenue. (In comparison, a bus costs about $60 per hour to run.)
So, TriMet will get $600,000 a year by charging bus riders (many of whom will just board the "free" MAX trains), so TriMet probably won't even see a revenue increase out of this - but will get to claim more MAX ridership to further its goal of discriminating against the bus system and its riders - by giving away free MAX service while making bus riders pay for a substandard service. It would be like TriMet owning a restaurant chain - placing restaurants similar to McDonald's in most of the city, and restaurants similiar to McCormack & Schmick's in a few select areas - but charging the same for a hamburger (despite the clearly obvious difference in quantity and quality.)