As Metrolinx tries to figure our how to get more people to ride the Union Pearson Express, it should consider using it as a downtown relief line, Premier Kathleen Wynne said.
"While it wasn't designed for that, there are two stops — there's the Dundas West and the Weston stop — so, you know, there is the possibility for it to be used in some partial ways for getting downtown."
Wynne suggested Metrolinx explore that possibility but added that the priority is to get more people riding the train.
"They have to look at all of the options and figure out how to get more people," she said. "I mean, that's the bottom line. How do we get more people riding the UP Express?
"I think it's self-evident that it needs to happen," Wynne added.
The $456 million airport train, which made its first trip last June, is running more than 90 per cent empty.
The most recent ridership report shows monthly ridership peaked at 79,000 in October, dipped to 65,593 in November then rose to only 67,000 in December, generally a busy month for airplane travel.
UPX averages less than 20 passengers per trip, according to the report. Each standard two-car UPX train can carry 113 passengers, meaning the service operates, on average, at a fraction of its capacity.
The cost of riding the train has also come under fire.
In November, Metrolinx reduced some fares and offered a 2-for-1 deal for passengers who pay the $27 fare. That deal expired at the end of January. Children under 13 now also ride free, up from the initial six years of age. There's also now a $27.50 return fare for someone who travels to the airport to meet or drop off someone.
While Wynne is concerned about low ridership, she said she doesn't view it as a white elephant.
"I think there needs to be an assessment of what's in the best interest of the people who are travelling from the airport to Union Station and how can we be doing various things how can we get more people to ride the UP Express because it is a great service and we want it to be fully used," Wynne said.
"I think there is the potential for more people to ride the UP Express, that's what we're looking for," she said.