Skip to main content

A Union Pearson Express train departs Union Station on April 22 2015.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

With mounting political pressure to get more people onto Toronto's struggling airport train, staff are promising to move fast on adjusting the price and acknowledging that the first year's ridership goal may not be met.

The train that runs between the city's downtown and Pearson International Airport has become a major headache for Metrolinx, the regional transit agency, and the provincial government. Early assumptions about how many people would use the service have proved optimistic and a recent report showed that the train – which cost $456-million – was running at less than 10 per cent capacity.

The goal was to have 5,000 passengers a day by the summer, at the end of the first year of service, which is more than twice the number of riders it averaged in November and December.

Story continues below advertisement

"I think, based on the ridership projections, that we will get there eventually," Kathy Haley, president of the Union Pearson Express (UPX), said in an interview on Wednesday. "I can't say that we'll get there in June. And I think it'll depend on what we're doing over the coming months."

Those changes will include better service and more promotion. But the most obvious shift is likely to be the price. The train now costs $27.50 for a one-way trip, although there are a variety of discounts and it costs $19 with a Presto fare card. Critics have long said the price was dissuading would-be riders and called for the train to be made more accessible.

Metrolinx officially has traditionally dug in its heels on the base fare, while proposing special offers and coupons. Although it is still loath to say the price was set too high, there is a new acknowledgment that it may need to drop to boost ridership.

"Obviously we need to attract more people, so we, and I, are open to taking a look at that price," Ms. Haley said. "I think that we need to … determine what is the right price that will attract people to try this service."

The whole slate of fare options – including the base fare – are to be examined. A change in price would have to be approved by the Metrolinx board, which does not meet again until the summer, though a special meeting could be called if recommendations are finalized earlier.

With the province, which oversees Metrolinx, pushing for results, the changes are not expected to take long.

"Ridership numbers are not where we want them to be, they're not where they should be," Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca told reporters Wednesday after sitting in for a portion of the quarterly Metrolinx board meeting.

Story continues below advertisement

"I will tell you right now, the fare discussion with UP Express is clearly extremely important, and it's something that we'll be taking a very, very clear and sort of sharp look at in the coming days."

Later at Wednesday's meeting, the Metrolinx board received for information an update on UPX, including the latest ridership numbers. The members spent less than 20 seconds on the report and asked no questions.

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

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

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