Union Pearson Express fare slashed from $27.50 to $12

The one-way cash fare for Toronto's Union Pearson Express (UPX) airport train will drop to $12 in an attempt to attract riders. Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at Union Station.

Airport train has struggled to make ridership goals since summer launch

Diljod Chahal said the Union Pearson Express "was way too overpriced, it didn’t make sense to even consider it.” On Tuesday, Metrolinx slashed the fares by more than half to attract more riders.

The one-way cash fare for Toronto's Union Pearson Express (UPX) airport train has been lowered to $12 in an attempt to attract riders. The fare will be $9 with a Presto card.

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca made the announcement this afternoon at Union Station.

  Commuters who want to use the UPX to travel to or from  Bloor West (near  Dundas Street) and Weston will be charged about $5, roughly equal to a GO transit fare for the same distance.

The new fares go into effect March 9.

"We want to drive up ridership as aggressively as possible," Del Duca told reporters, adding that offering free rides on the Family Day weekend helped raise awareness of the service. Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency that oversees UPX, says 43,000 people took the opportunity to ride UPX for free last weekend.

"Now that there's an awareness, more people will take it," he said. "Try the UP Express. Once you try it, you'll come to love it."

The downtown-to-airport train, unveiled last summer ahead of the Pan Am Games, has been struggling to reach its ridership goals — largely due to the $27.50 per ride price tag (or $19 if you're using a Presto card).

"It was way too overpriced, it didn't make sense to even consider it," Diljod Chahal told CBC News. "Taking Uber or a cab would've been way cheaper."

Madeline Ziniak said she hasn't taken UPX but added she will "certainly explore the possibility. I just think they needed to promote it more."

Del Duca announced the new fares standing next to a sparsely filled UPX train.

"With any new service that you put into place there's always time that's required in order to raise awareness about the service itself and to build customer loyalty," he said. "We wanted to make sure that we move forward with a plan that would help grow the ridership, in particular by making it more affordable for middle-class families and commuters across this region."

Progressive Conservative critic Michael Harris said the initial prices never should have been so high.

"We wouldn't need to be here today if the Liberals actually had listened ahead of introducing UP Express on where people felt the fares should have been in the first place," he said."They won't admit it, but it's clearly a step back, a mistake."

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called UPX a "boondoggle" that the government now needs to ensure Metrolinx is able to save.

The board of Metrolinx will vote on the new fares at a meeting tonight.

With files from The Canadian Press