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Metrolinx to further optimize the Union Pearson Express train

It was announced this week that Metrolinx will be making changes to the popular UPX train service that connects Union Station to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. This is an interesting transit story. And as someone who will be moving to the Junction (adjacent to one of the stops along the way), I have a vested interest in this announcement.

The UPX started out as a high-priced boutique train service to the airport. A one-way fare was $27.50 per person (without a PRESTO card). This was too much and I argued that here on the blog. If you looked at the math and compared it to the alternatives, such as taking an UberX, most people were not going to take this train.

The fares were ultimately dropped — by a lot — and the service then took off not only as a link to Pearson but as an inner-city commuter service. I now sometimes call it the Union-Junction Express, because the actual train ride from Union to Bloor St (at Dundas West) is about 7 minutes once you’re on the train.

The announcement this week merely solidifies the train’s evolution from high-priced boutique service (which didn’t work) to airport/commuter service (which is really working). The trains are expected to run more frequently now, some of which will continue to make the same stops as today and some of which will stop in new locations along the line.

As transit-advocate Cameron MacLeod said in the Globe and Mail yesterday, “there’s both good and bad news here.” The good news is more frequent service. Even quicker trips in some instances. And better integration with the broader GO train network. The bad news is the award-winning UPX station at Union will no longer be needed. The service is expected to move to a new platform.

Photo by Sean Thoman on Unsplash

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