Get your free rides on the Portland Streetcar while you can — come next year, the MAX may be the only free transportation downtown.

In a Wednesday meeting with their citizen's advisory committee, Portland Streetcar Inc. recommended to eliminate streetcars from the once Fareless Square — now Free Rail Zone — in tandem with a monthly pass price boost. The change must be passed by Portland Streetcar's board in early November, followed by Portland City Council's stamp of approval, to go into effect by September 2012.

An enraged protester at a 2009 rally

After the TriMet bus system backed out of Fareless Square in 2009, resuming regular bus fares in all zones, the downtown area was renamed the Free Rail Zone. Now, another name change may be in store, leaving MAX as the only free public transportation in the zone.

Amid a debated push towards costly expansion, the streetcar has set its sights high when it comes to fares. If the request passes, the base streetcar fare would be $2.10 across the system. In addition, the monthly pass would spike from the current $8.33 per month to "hopefully" less than $45 per month, according to Streetcar Director Rick Gustafson.

This change would also bank on faithful ridership — specifically within the penny-pinching Portland State University crowd and South Waterfront residents. At the Wednesday meeting, Gustafson based this change on fairness by asking for across-the-board pay from all riders in all zones. The Streetcar staff plans to conduct a public outreach process over the next seven weeks to fully examine the possible impact of the November decision.