An Up Solution?; TTC stops needed on uP Express route: NDP MPP

June 27, 2016

24 Hours Toronto
Mon Jun 27 2016
Page: A2
Section: News
Byline: Terry Davidson
Source: Postmedia Network
An NDP MPP is calling for additional stops along the struggling UP Express airport rail line – and for the TTC to operate them.

Cheri DiNovo said the UP Express, currently a three-stop train running between Toronto’s Union Station and Pearson Airport, should be made into a commuter line that could offer up relief to the TTC’s service.

One way, she said, would be to add additional stops that the TTC would operate.

DiNovo’s comments come after a Toronto Sun story reported the Ontario government’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts had recommended that Metrolinx, the provincial body overseeing transit in the region, “explore ways to integrate the UP Express with the TTC,” rather than have it operate as a separate service.

DiNovo sat on the committee as a substitute member when the report was tabled.

Launched in June 2015, the troubled UP Express was to be self-sufficient within three year to five years.

But the $27.50 fare proved too steep and it ended up with an average daily ridership of only 2,500. Metrolinx dropped the price and the number increased to 8,500 a day.

However, the UP, which costs $68 million per year to run, will now require a subsidy from taxpayers.

“The only way that (the UP Express) can function … is to somehow make it a commuter line,” DiNovo said Sunday. “So one of our suggestions was integrating (it) into the TTC because they are the operational folk …

Ultimately it would cost … taxpayers less if that line was being used by a significant number of people, and it’s not.

“Why not integrate this into the (TTC),” she added. “Make it a relief line, make more stops, (and) work with the TTC on making this possible.”

PC MPP Michael Harris, who is also on that committee, said the report was written before the fares were lowered and ridership increased. Additional stops, he said, “would defeat the purpose of a … link from Union to Pearson (airport).”

Liberal MPP Peter Milczyn, also a committee member, said integrating the UP Express with the TTC could mean fare integration or better physical integration between the current service and TTC stations.

“I think the more immediate issue is better physical connectivity, better marketing and promotion, and … fare integration,” he said.