A piece on Streetsblog makes the policy argument for distance-based transit fares.
They actually use Portland’s Fareless Square as part of their argument, apparently unaware of recent history.
I generally support this line of argument, at least from a pure policy policy point of view. TriMet has argued that one of the pragmatic reasons for a flat fare is easier electronic ticketing. That’s certainly a fair point, but I’m still not sure that it’s the right answer in the long run.
And of course I’d argue that the $1 Streetcar fare is in fact a form of distance-based fare policy, given the relatively short distance trips available on the Streetcar.