WATCH: Mark McAllister finds out how much people are willing to pay to get to Pearson and if the new express train is too expensive.
TORONTO – The fares for using the new Union-Pearson Express airport link may be much higher than previously anticipated and at least one Toronto city councillor thinks they should be lowered.
In addition to a $20 to $30 one-way ticket between downtown Toronto’s Union Station to Pearson International Airport, Metrolinx, the provincial agency in charge of building the $456 million rail link, also wants to tack on a $2 airport fee.
The fee was added on by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) for lost parking revenue.
Anne Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, said Torontonians have been clamoring for a quick way to get to Pearson for decades and this train solves that problem.
“This is a unique service that will provide a long-held desire for Torontonians and that’s to get to the airport quickly by a dedicated air-rail link,” she said.
Aikins said she’d use it. The Metrolinx worker lives just east of downtown and said she’d much prefer knowing she’d get to the airport on time rather than spending a bit more money and not knowing whether her cab will get stuck in traffic.
But not everyone is pleased with the fare that could reach $30.
City councillor Josh Matlow characterized the train as a “boutique train for business travellers” that disregards the needs of the average Torontonian.
“Torontonians have been waiting for generations for rapid transit to our international airport,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I think a lot of people are going to be very upset that the intent of this new train was not in their interest.”
Aikins said Tuesday the train is geared towards a number of passengers including business travellers but also tourists, groups and families. And Metrolinx will have varied fares depending on where you board the train, your age or how many people you’re travelling with.
Matlow has put forth a Notice of Motion to be reviewed when city council meets next week recommending Metrolinx institute a fair and affordable fare rate for the Union-Pearson Express and request the GTAA cancel the parking fee.
The councillor didn’t volunteer a specific fare he considered fair and affordable but did say people shouldn’t have to pay more than $20 and the fare should be competitive with other modes of travel.
“My wife and I who live in midtown Toronto, if we want to get to Pearson, we can get a cab for a flat rate of $50,” he said. “That’s’ either going to be cheaper or the same price of having to go all the way down to union, then pay $30 for the UP express.”
The Toronto Airport Express bus, which ceases its operations in October, currently charges around $27 each way and a trip from downtown Toronto via an airport limo can cost about $58.
The proposed fare is also far greater than the $5 a commuter would have to pay to get to O’Hare International Airport from downtown Chicago, a city of similar size to Toronto.
The rail link is targeted for completion just in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015.
© Shaw Media, 2014