Right now, the Circulator is primarily a service for downtown. That's appropriate given that it's paid for mostly by higher parking fees in city garages. That kind of fee-for-service represents a closed loop of financing — downtown visitors mainly pay for it, and downtown visitors reap the advantages. This isn't a perfect fit — after all, some federal money, passed through the state, is involved as well — but in principle, it's not a free ride. The fare is simply paid at the moment you park, not when you board.