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Toronto council turns up heat on Metrolinx for cheaper ride on Union-Pearson train

Rail link to open ahead of next year's Pan Am Games

Toronto city councillors have voted to put pressure on Metrolinx to wrestle down the cost of riding a rail link between Union Station and Pearson Airport.

A projected cost puts a one-way fare in the $20-$30 ballpark. Trains are expected to start moving along the line in time for the Pan Am Games next year.

Councillor Josh Matlow said Thursday the existing price range would be make the link "inaccessible and unaffordable to most Torontonians." He also submitted it is bad business model.

Councillor Frances Nunziata agreed, suggesting only "rich people" and "business people" will have the cash to use the service, leaving out scores of people who work at Pearson.

"This line will never be paid for because they will not get the ridership," said Nunziata.

Council voted Metrolinx to make the cost of a ride more "affordable" and more in line with GO Transit fares.

Metrolinx has said they expected business-types would make up the bulk of the ridership on the UP Express line.  Matlow does not think that is fair.

"After generations of waiting for rapid transit for Torontonians to our airport, we find out that the focus of this line was not really for us.  It is truly an elite line for business travellers from other countries."

Councillors also endorsed a move to try and do away with a portion of each fare going to directly to Pearson.

The fee is expected to account for roughly $1.85-$2 of each fare. The money is meant to compensate the airport for an expected drop in parking revenue once the UP Express is operational.

Councillor Matlow called the fee "completely inane" and suggested it was somewhat counter-intuitive.

"We are trying to incent people to choose transit and not drive their cars as much, to try and decrease gridlock and congestion. Here we are now having to pay for the privilege of not parking at the airport."

Metrolinx has said the compensation is part of the UP Express agreement and any decision to cancel it would have to be made by the authority that runs Pearson.

Councillor Gord Perks found the discussion of affordable, easy to access transit a little rich.

"This is the same council that refused to vote, in a clear and unambiguous way, to be supportive of revenue tools to pay for transportation in the city of Toronto and for Metrolinx," Perks pointed out.

"This particular cake you can't have and eat too."

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  1. Ernie posted on 08/29/2014 12:34 AM
    This goes to show you that transit really is very expensive - I would not be surprised if the fee does not even cover the real cost of transit.

    Let the users pay for the system. There is NO such thing as a FREE RIDE.
    1. scottd_6746 posted on 08/29/2014 09:07 AM
      @Ernie Sure. Lets drop government subsidies on oil and gas first and then you have an idea.
  2. frankling posted on 08/29/2014 01:53 AM
    Until I read that Metrolinx plans to use the high fares to pay for the entire airport link within three years, I never saw the genius in the high-fare plan. Clearly in the fourth year, we'll be funding those Go train stops to provide relief to the subway system. Heck, this is so much money they might even fund express subway lines, a Sky train up the DVP and another one along the 401. Caching.
  3. dama posted on 08/29/2014 08:23 AM
    So really this Union Station Pearson Airport is JUST for travellers?

    If I work at the airport and living down town, I cant afford to pay $60 bucks a day to take this rail to work, isn't it?; I think it defeats what subway is intended for...

    If Metrolink wants to make sure this rail is run at capacity, they should build a big condo car park at the Airport Station and commuters from Mississauga and Brampton might park there and take the rail to Union.. ease the 401 congestion too.

    .
  4. AbbyW posted on 08/29/2014 08:31 AM
    Typical of our whining city council. As this is an express service it is ludicrous for any councillor to suggest it should be the same fare as the TTC. Time will tell what the right fare target should be.

    More importantly, if we had competent city councils and provincial governments there would have been an extensive subway network that could have extended to the airport, similar to what one finds in world class cities. Instead, we have had a succession of petty-minded councillors and a slew of incompetent provincial governments solely concerned with their next re-election campaign rather than the future of our city.
    1. scottd_6746 posted on 08/29/2014 09:11 AM
      @AbbyW You seem confused. One one hand you say it should not cost the same as the TTC and then you say there should be subways to the airport that do.

      The real issue is that people dont have the courage to raise (our already low Toronto) taxes even a few dollars to pay for anything. A 20$ increase creates a billion dollars a year for transit. Thats the only way things will get built. The whole trend of inaction goes back to Harris.
    2. AbbyW posted on 08/29/2014 09:20 AM
      @scottd_6746 I'm not at all confused. Express service is not subway, it is exactly as described, an express service that should command a premium. How much of a premium will be determined over time as users become familiar with the service.

      If we had an extensive subway system as most "world class" cities do, subways would also be available. It would take a lot longer due to all the stops along the route, but it would either cost the usual TTC fare or there might be a small premium for that portion of the journey, ie. a fare zone system.

      Hope that clarifies my earlier comments.
  5. scottd_6746 posted on 08/29/2014 09:12 AM
    For those that want a deeper look at this read what the Auditor General said in 2012.
    www.auditor.on.ca/en/reports_en/en12/309en12.pdf
  6. IBLeaf posted on 08/29/2014 09:26 AM
    and there is no plan to extend the subway or Eglinton LRT to the airport because???
    1. dama posted on 08/29/2014 10:04 AM
      @IBLeaf because GTAA would lose the income.. limo drivers would lose their livelihood.
    2. AbbyW posted on 08/29/2014 11:17 AM
      @IBLeaf IMO the greatest priority is a relief line downtown, followed by expansion within GTA which airport could be part of. That GTA expansion would help take pressure off driving and likely helps more people than the airport which, is currently serviced by taxis and soon by the Union Pearson Express (eliminating the bus service).

      Sadly, councillors and the province only think of votes, not of the intelligence of service based on demand.
  7. StuG posted on 08/29/2014 01:25 PM
    this is why i agree with elected government oversight of business. because the well to do will always screw the average person if they can. things like this things like Bell scamming the consumer with expiry dates on prepaid cards and lining the pockets of their investors.
    tax payer money funded this project. it should be priced for the average person.
    $2 to the airport for parking loss is another scam that should be stopped
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