Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

A passenger has her ticket scanned on the Union Pearson Express airport rail link in Toronto on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

Michelle Siu/The Canadian Press

The head of Toronto's troubled airport train has resigned after months of disappointing ridership, sparking calls for her superiors to take responsibility as well.

The departure of Union Pearson Express president Kathy Haley comes amid desperate efforts to attract passengers to the train. Fares have been slashed on the premium service she launched, allowing it to act more like a commuter train.

Plans have also been taking shape to move UPX under the purview of GO Transit, leaving no obvious role for Ms. Haley. She chose to resign instead, and her last day will be March 31, according to a spokeswoman for Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates the train.

Story continues below advertisement

A request Monday to interview the departing executive was not answered. Metrolinx will not say whether Ms. Haley is leaving with a package.

"It's unfortunate that Ms. Haley is now falling on her sword ... but the buck really should stop at the minister [or] the Premier," said Progressive Conservative transportation critic Michael Harris.

"We saw an extraordinary amount of pressure coming from the government with regards to this project, so they were simply just following orders. To make Kathy Haley the scapegoat, after the fact, does nothing really to ensure government accountability."

UPX launched last summer as a separate division within Metrolinx, with Ms. Haley as founding president, a structure that left open the possibility of spinning it off if it succeeded. But the train – designed as a high-end service between Union Station and Pearson airport, and priced to match with a cash fare of $27.50 – failed to catch on with riders.

Metrolinx insisted for months that the train just needed time. The agency said the price was not holding back ridership, and it produced reports that fudged the numbers to make the train's performance look better than it was.

"Nobody on the Metrolinx board said anything really seriously against it until it was up and running and started to look like, well, you know, maybe we got a problem here," said Toronto transit blogger Steve Munro. "Everything was smiles all around. So the board cannot basically say, 'Oh, it's just this one person.'"

Ridership edged up in the early months and then flatlined in September and October. It dived in the last two months of 2015, prompting a push from Queen's Park to change course. Last month, the Metrolinx board voted to cuts fares by more than half. Informal numbers from the agency suggest ridership has doubled as a result.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies