August 22, 2014 5:45 pm

Pearson workers worried Union-Pearson Express too expensive


TORONTO – The rumoured ticket price of the Union Pearson Express is the subject of controversy again.

The whole purpose of the rail link is to provide a quick path from Union Station to Pearson International Airport with the trip lasting less than 25 minutes. Right now, public transit takes about 1.5 hours.

No one said the UP Express would be cheap, though and the rumoured cost of a one-way fare is in the range of $20 to $30.

That has workers at Pearson, who’d like to use it to commute to work feeling left out.

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“A lot of people (at Pearson) are making minimum wage,” says airport worker Joselyn Dulnuan.  “If the price is going to be between $20 and $30 one way, feasibly, it doesn’t make sense for anyone to park downtown (and) take the train.”

Union reps estimate between 10,000 and 15,000 Pearson employees live in Toronto.

But Metrolinx says the UPE is not public transit:  The link is meant to be used by travelers, not commuters.

“The thing is…they’re using our public funds to do that,” says Sean Smith, mobilization co-ordinator for Unifor Local 2002.

Martin Smith, President of CUPE Local 4047 predicts that if fares aren’t affordable, the public might not use the Union-Pearson Express.

“I don’t think even the executives are gonna use it,” Smith said.  “They can afford a taxi or a limo.”

Comparing the UP Express to other jurisdictions:

  • A ticket for the rail link to London Heathrow costs $47.
  • The train to O’Hare in Chicago costs $5.
  • In Vancouver, the rail link to the international airport costs $9.

The London, Chicago and Vancouver trains are run by their respective municipal transit agencies.

Metrolinx officials express confusion and a bit of frustration about the fare price concerns, because they haven’t actually released a pricing strategy yet.

“Although there has been lots of speculation, our fare pricing strategy will not be released until later this year. We are expecting our strategy to include variable prices for families, children and frequent users,” according to a statement from Metrolinx. “Pricing will also model fare by distance (like GO currently uses) for passengers getting on at Bloor or Weston.”

Metrolinx is currently testing its first train on the UPE. The first passengers are expected to begin using the service by next spring.

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