Torontonians are getting a raw deal on Union Pearson Express
The airport link is an express service. So comparisons cannot be made to rail links in Vancouver, Newark and Chicago. Yes, it is far less expensive to travel those routes compared with the expected $22-$32 fare for UPE. But Newark’s line is part of a regional rail network. Vancouver’s is municipal light rail. And Chicago’s connections are also via municipal rail. They're all just stops along the line.
Union-Pearson is something more akin to Heathrow Express. That line runs from Paddington Station to two stops at the airport southwest of London. The least expensive fare for that shuttle runs the equivalent of about $38 Canadian.
Using that figure, our new rail line may sound like a bargain. But it's not.
The simple argument for why UPE needs to be more affordable lies with who paid for it. We did. Heathrow Express ended up being financed by British Rail, which is a private company. UPE is being built – and will be operated – by Metrolinx. This, as you probably know, is an agency of the government of Ontario. While Metrolinx has been adamant that the Union Pearson Express should not be considered “public transit,” the service is being built and will be operated by a crown agency that receives its funding FROM THE PUBLIC.
If Metrolinx would like to promote the link as a "premium" form of public transit, many of us might be able to swallow that claim, along with a premium fare that goes with it. But truth be told, this rapid service is not being built for the average resident of the city. It's being built for business travellers who probably don't care if the trip costs $22, $32 or even $52 because they're going to be flipping the bill to their company anyway.
TTC riders shouldn't be expecting this incredibly convenient service to be available to them for three bucks or a wave of their Metropass. But all of us who pay taxes in this province should expect value for money. Paying highly exorbitant fares for a ride we've already funded upfront is simply unfair.