Good news for frequent flyers: Metrolinx, along with Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, has announced that fares for the Union Pearson Express (UPX) will be cut in half.
As of March 9, it will cost riders $9 to use the UPX with a PRESTO card and $12 without one. This is a far cry from the original prices of $19 and $27.50 respectfully. Metrolinx is also integrating its transit with that of the TTC by offering commuters transferring from the Bloor and Weston stations a special price — they will only be asked to pay the same as GO users: $4.71 for a single stop and $5.02 for two stops.
Fares will also be reduced for airport employees.
The price change is an attempt by Metrolinx to increase ridership after a lousy December report stated that on average 2,400 people per day have used the train to the airport. Metrolinx previously predicted about 7,000 daily users, which means they are quite off target. These numbers have caused the province to re-think their strategy and the use of the express train after eight months of operation.
“This is still a new service – we are still getting started. Based on the positive feedback we’ve heard so far, and the new pricing structure announced today, we are confident that ridership will grow,” said Bruce McCuaig, CEO of Metrolinx, in a statement.
During the long weekend, Metrolinx allowed Torontonians to ride the UPX for free in hopes that it would entice interested commuters to use the mode of transportation more often. A little over 10,000 people per day showed up to try the express route to Pearson International. They enjoyed the comfy chairs, the spacious nature of the cars, and the fancy in-house magazine “On The UP.”
This experiment proved one thing: Torontonians understand the UPX is a great product. They just aren’t willing to pay for it.
The UPX is benchmarking at about 97 per cent in customer satisfaction and performance. Metrolinx has tried to boost awareness of the program by introducing better signage, offering incentives and complimentary tickets to hotels, as well as digital outreach. But, as the long weekend experiment proved, it’s not about the UPX itself. The tickets were just too expensive.
Here’s hoping this fare cut will change those ridership numbers for the better.
Metrolinx will host a special board meeting Tuesday night to review the UPX business strategy where they will most likely approve the fare changes.