TORONTO – High ticket prices and low ridership have prompted the province to reduce fares on the Union Pearson Express (UPX).
The direct train from Toronto’s Union Station to Pearson International Airport will have costs for riders reduced by more than half starting on March 9.
Prices for the entire UPX route will go from $27.50 to $12 without a Presto card and from $19 to $9 with one. Boarding the train at either the Bloor or Weston stations will now be on par with GO fares.
“This is in the interest of providing middle-class families and commuters with more affordable and accessible options,” Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said. “Every new service launched takes time to build awareness and customer loyalty. We have listened. We have learned.”
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The provincial agency had said the upscale ride to and from the airport was originally geared to attract more business clientele.
“If they weren’t so obsessed with making this boutique luxury train the way it is it wouldn’t have cost $27.50 in the first place,” MPP and opposition transportation critic Michael Harris said.
Transit users in the city have widely criticized the Metrolinx service for not making the prices more accessible to those regularly paying to ride the TTC.
“We’re not looking at a train line that will make a profit,” TTCriders spokesperson Jessica Bell said. “We’re looking at a train line that will be useful and affordable for everyone in the city.”
Original projections and goals were to reach 7,000 daily passengers within three years but the last few months of 2015 only saw about 2,200 people using the train every day.
The entire UPX project cost the province $456 million to build and lower fares likely mean more time for any return on investment.
“Obviously there’s a challenge with respect to the financial numbers,” Del Duca said. “Our job right now with this announcement today is to encourage more people to take it so we drive up the ridership.”
Airport employees were also critical of the cost to ride the express train before special fares were arranged. Those monthly passes will now drop from $300 to $140.
The one-way fare for families with children 19 years old and younger will be $25. Kids under the age of 12 will continue to ride for free.