Salt Lake City has a free-fare zone in downtown, for both the buses and the TRAX light rail system, and (come winter) both hold a substantial (and pungent) homeless population. But one memorable evening, snowy and bitter cold, one of those dudes spoke up. He was drunk, but he still had a good point-"Where the hell else do you expect us to go?". I can't blame him. I was doing the same thing. I had fifteen minutes to kill, and rather then standing in the frigid cold, I was riding the train to keep warm.
It's not an issue limited to downtown either. Many times, I've ridden the train down to Sandy, late at night, with someone from Salt Lake, obviously homeless. Once we'd hit Sandy, the south-most end of line station, he got off and boarded the northbound train. Two and a half hours of warmth and comfortable seating for $2.50? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Beats sitting in a diner. Free or not, the homeless are going to ride the train.