Thursday, June 25, 2015

Union Pearson Express hits ridership targets but can be tough to find, survey of riders finds

Toronto's new airport train is hitting its ridership and approval targets.

But nearly half the riders say finding the stations isn't as easy as the journey between Pearson and Union. 

"Our feedback is really good but we're getting some good, practical advice about wayfinding, " said Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins.

The provincial agency's own survey…


Bicky said...

One of my co-workers used it to get to the airport. Her experience was mostly positive. She had a few complaints (cost prohibitive for families and even singles without a Presto card, not much to see along the way). She liked the cleanliness and she thought the professionalism of the staff was great.

Anonymous said...

Q.I have a business meeting in NY, my flight leaves at 6.30am so i have to be there by 4.30am
A. Our first train leaves at 5.30am

WTF! a 5.30 train would only allow you to catch a flight after 8am at the earliest.
From what i have heard, it's a ghost train!

Saul T Knutts

Anonymous said...

if you mean ghost train as nobody is on it. your right!!

Squiggles said...


Based on your comments, I took a look at the schedule.

Seriously! They are closed for 4.5 hrs in the middle of the night!

Which brainiac thought that was a good idea? Because of my preferences (and less of a chance of delays) I tend to take the first plane out in the morning. That means getting to the airport at 4am.

Then, this past February, my flight back was so delayed I was wandering the airport at 3am waiting for the other people in my shuttle. Came across the UPX signage and thought that had it been running, it would be a feasible option.

Guess not.

Anonymous said...

OK, can we please put this all into perspective? This is not a commuter train (a la GO or TTC) it is a direct, and VERY FAST, link to the airport. it competes with taxis @ $55 + tip. I don't know what that Pacific Western shuttle bus cost but I believe it was also around $30/person. Every time I pass it downtown it is packed - especially coming from the airport, every seat is taken when it's pulling in and there is ALWAYS about 1 - 2 dozen people waiting in the lounge to board it to the airport.

Why does everyone feel this service needs to be prices like a TTC ride or something? Why does everyone think this is a commuter train? Why does everyone who complains about the cost of getting a family there not explore one of the other options like a van or limo or taxi to the airport (totaling well over $120 for a family of 4 because it's expensive and/or you need more than 1 vehicle to fit a family of 4 and their luggage - might I add)?

Are you all insane or do you complain about everything until everything is given to you for free and then you can complain when it goes out of business?

They are hitting targets. Do you know that about 3/4 of projects - and I mean projects in every industry an every segment - never hit targets for either use or revenue or other metrics?

Please, please, please, find something of real concern to complain about, but more importantly DO something about!

You live in the greatest society in the world. This city is subsidized to obscene levels for its infrastructure by the rest of the province. Your level of convenience is unprecedented (just ask someone from Thunder Bay who has to bring their child to Toronto for cancer treatments how convenient their ordeal is or how cheap it is).

Thank you CJ for allowing me to rant. Had I not, I might have had an aneurysm this morning, and thank you to all of you, particularly those of you whom I've offended, for having an open mind and considering other people's points of view.

Squiggles said...


Yes, you do bring up a few good points, however, I am not seeing the rage-inducing criticisms you are referring to. All the comments on this particular article are in the "Not Bad" category. And many are bringing up valid concerns.

UPX is not a commuter train, but it has been set up as a rail link to the airport mainly for business. It is leaving out/ignoring a huge market of business people who catch the red-eye.

Because they have left out this market, they have ignored the trickle effect. If a business person took it and had a good experience, then I can see them taking it for their personal travel as well. But, considering how they left out a huge section, this won't happen and people will continue looking elsewhere for their rides to the airport.

This doesn't even include the international travelers. I know when I was travelling internationally, nine times out of ten we landed in the middle of the night.

I am just hoping they take a look at this and make improvements. But, for the meantime, unless I am downtown and heading to the airport after work, I won't be taking this train.

Anonymous said...

Being on the Kitchener line, I have the joy of riding parallel to the UP shuttle coming into the City and leave the City. So far I have not seen more than 6 people on it.

Robert Wightman said...

Metrolinx staff says it runs 140 trips per day to carry 3200 passengers per day. That works out to less than 23 passengers per run. Each train has an engineer and a conductor in the cab plus a ticket checker/seller. That gives a passenger to crew ratio of 8 to 1 (no decimals I round up.) As well in Pearson and Union there were a load of people to try and direct you. The UPX trains cannot make the run in 25 minutes with a turn around in 5 minutes so they are operating 5 trains instead of 4 so there is always a train in Person, sometimes 2.

This is a very labour intensive operation. Five trains require 15 crew members plus at least another 15 in the two terminals for 30 crew on the line plus whatever there is behind the scenes. Assuming that the operating crews' wages and benefits are around $40 per hour this puts their cost at $600 per hour (15*$40.) If we use $25 per hour for the other 15 employees the cost goes up by another $375 per hour and we haven't counted maintenance, management, or fuel costs. This operation is going to bleed money even at an average fare of $20.

I rode the line from Union to Pearson with about 15 passengers on board. Coming back I rode from Pearson to Bloor. Five people got on my coach at the airport, another 1 got on at Weston and 4 got off at Bloor leaving only to to go to Union. Hopefully the loading will pick up but I doubt that is cast recovery from fares will be anywhere near as good as GO's.

TomW said...

@Robert Wrightman: Yes, the combined service is cost is over $1,000/hour. 23 passengers/train is 46 passengers/hour (because you get one run every 30 minutes). At $20/passenger, that's $920/hour... which is pretty close to your calculated costs.

Passenger numbers will increase over time, so it's reasonable to expect UpEx will cover its operating costs within a few years.

Robert Wightman said...

TomW said...

@Robert Wightman: "Yes, the combined service is cost is over $1,000/hour. 23 passengers/train is 46 passengers/hour (because you get one run every 30 minutes). At $20/passenger, that's $920/hour... which is pretty close to your calculated costs.

"Passenger numbers will increase over time, so it's reasonable to expect UpEx will cover its operating costs within a few years."

Actually there are 4 trains in each direction per hour or 8 total for a total of about 184 passengers per hour so I guess that you cannot figure out the schedule. Even at this rate the line is still loosing money because we do not know what the overhead expenses are. The other problem is that this line is using up more than half the capacity in the Weston corridor which could carry a lot more people if it ran as a proper GO train or RER or even SmartTrack. My biggest complaint is the amount of money and capacity that it has used up for such a crappy service. Don't forget that a lot of its capital costs are hidden in the total construction costs for rebuilding the corridor for GO which now can't use it to its full extent. I cannot get all day service from Brampton so that Metrolinx and the Province can have this "World Class Service" to the airport/