I never pay the fare on Tri-met. As a homeless person here in Portland, I spent a month saving up cash to afford myself a room somewhere indoors before winter arrived, and barely was able to do so. Tri-met fares are so high that I would've been unable to pay to ride while looking out for my own basic winter survival needs.
While most drivers seem aware that they are prohibited from denying service to non-paying riders (apparently someone was short 20 cents, ended up in emergency psychiatric care, and then was killed by police two days later), other drivers have abused their position at the wheel of the bus by denying services and even calling in police to deal with non-paying riders.
Just tonight I was publicly humiliated by a driver who called the attention of the entire bus (which was full of people)to my lack of bus fare. I was allowed to ride at the cost of my integrity. Last month I was kicked off a bus for defending two elderly homeless people who had no fare and were being denied service by the driver. The two were obviously caught off gaurd by the driver's aggressive attitude and were hovering at the front door in a state of confusion when the driver lost patience, put the bus in park, and announced she was calling the police if they didn't move quickly. Perhaps a bit delerious from lack of sleep, the two slowly attempted to lift their belongings and leave the bus, while the driver gave a description of them to authorities. I simply stood up and asked her to think again before doing this to these people who were obviously in need. She shushed me, and then I put it out there one more time, asking her to reconsider the crime she was about to commit. She then placed another call to the police, this time describing me, saying I refused to leave the bus when asked (true enough, but something had to be done while other riders just sat there). I hung around outside the bus for a minute with the other two people, wondering what to do, and then had to run into an adjacent neighborhood to hide from the approaching sirens.
Let's all remind the drivers once in a while that they can't kick people off the bus who don't have the money to pay.