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UP Express Fare fiasco raises warning signs on road ahead

January 17, 2017

New emails reveal mixed signals, mismanagement on costly Metrolinx mess

Kitchener – Ontario PC Transportation Critic Michael Harris is asking who’s pulling the strings on costly decisions impacting vital transit projects in Ontario, following email revelations behind the messy U-P Express 2016 fare retreat.

“Today’s reports of emails from the Premier’s office directing UPX fare reductions are in stark contrast to what the Minister told Committee members, and leads to further questions as to who’s in charge of our billions slated for transit investment in Ontario,” Harris indicated. “While it now looks like that, after months of Opposition pressure to make government realize their airport ride had become a “ghost express”, it was the Premier who actually directed reductions, the Minister had been telling Committee members he only spoke to the Premier after they had, ‘settled on a game plan to go forward, and I made her aware of what the game plan was’.”

Harris pointed out that the contradictions are nothing new from a Minister that oversaw the UP Express launch and fare setting without even reading the nine taxpayer funded reports that were considered key in setting the fares in the first place. (See Minister’s admission here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIxmunXF2W8)

“The Minister admitted to me in Committee he hadn’t read the reports and then went ahead with the unaffordable rates anyway, with predictable results in creating what became a white elephant on rails,” said Harris. “It was only after months of foot-dragging and near-empty trains leaving the UPX station that the Minister announced fare reductions – reductions he said were planned ahead of any discussion he had with the Premier.”

Counter to the Minister’s contentions, Shawn Jeffords of the Toronto Sun today revealed emails that indicate, “Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office played a major role in the decision to slash the price of the struggling UP Express in early 2016.”

“While the UP Express fare setting and excess has been a costly journey in itself, the continued miscommunication and mis-leadership between the Premier’s office, the Minister and Metrolinx raises serious red-flags on the road ahead towards the billions in infrastructure spending Metrolinx is responsible for,” Harris concluded.

Watch Minister Del Duca indicate he only discussed UPX reductions after the “game plan” was settled here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAhkaQwhXkg