Up Express Chief Quits; Troubled train’s pricey tix put ridership off rails

March 22, 2016

24 Hours Toronto

Tue Mar 22 2016

Page: A9

Section: News

Byline: Maryam Shah

Source: Postmedia Network

The president of troubled UP Express has stepped down about two weeks after the service slashed its fares to boost sagging ridership.

Kathy Haley, who first took the helm in 2011, will finish with Metrolinx on March 31.

Tory MPP Michael Harris said her resignation makes Haley look like a “scapegoat.”

“I would say that Ms. Haley is falling on her sword today for the UP Express fiasco but the buck clearly stops with the minister of transportation and the premier,” he said.

Metrolinx spokesman Anne Marie Aikins said the agency would not comment beyond confirming Haley’s resignation.

According to her UP Express bio, Haley has an MBA from Dalhousie University and previously led projects at Canada Post, Royal Bank of Canada, Imperial Oil Ltd., and Allianz Group AG. News of her resignation comes as the provincial transportation agency undergoes an organizational review.

“That’s been underway for quite some time,” Aikins said. “We’ve been looking at our structures over the last few months, now that we are undergoing a massive development of transit across the region, so we’ve been looking at how best to structure ourselves.”

When asked if a change in leadership was considered as part of that review, Aikins responded they were “looking at all of those structures.”

Meanwhile, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca had no comment on Haley’s decision to leave the highly-criticized airport express service. The UP Express was conceived as a way to get airport-goers from Union Station to Pearson International Airport within 30 minutes.

But it kicked off with high fares and low ridership.

UP Express cut its oneway ticket from $27.50 to $12, effective March 9. Aikins said the trains more than doubled their ridership to around 5,300 riders on the first day of reduced fares.

“And we sustained that over the last week,” she added. “So we’re very pleased about that.”