Union Pearson Express: Will Toronto's airport train be too pricey?

Coun. Josh Matlow fears Toronto's new $450-million airport train will cost so much to ride, that many families and couples may opt instead to take a cab or limo.

One-way fares above $30 could mean couples, families take a cab instead, councillor argues

A city councillor is worried the fare to ride Toronto's airport train will be so high many passengers — including couples and families — will opt to take a cab or limo instead.

Coun. Josh Matlow is worried Toronto's airport train will cost so much to ride, many passengers will instead opt to take a limo or cab. (CBC)

Coun. Josh Matlow has written a motion asking council to make Union Pearson Express fares affordable "for most Torontonians" and competitive with other forms of transit.

Slated to begin service next year in time for the Pan Am Games, the express train will connect two of Canada's busiest travel hubs: Pearson airport and Union Station downtown.

Trains will depart Union every 15 minutes and the 25-kilometre journey is slated to take 25 minutes, with stops at Bloor and Weston GO stations.

Regional transit planning authority Metrolinx has not said how much it will cost to ride the $450-million airport train. But any price that exceeds $30 (one way) means it could be cheaper for families and couples to take a taxi or limo to the airport. A taxi ride from downtown Toronto to Pearson airport currently costs $50 to $60.

In Vancouver it costs $9 via the SkyTrain to travel from the airport to downtown, a distance of about 15 kilometres.

A 'boutique' service for executive travellers?

"A fare of $20 and $30 is too much because it's not competitive with limos and taxis," said Matlow Tuesday in an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "It shouldn't just be a boutique service for business travellers."

But according to Metrolinx, business travellers are the target demographic.

"It is primarily targeted to business executives," said Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins Tuesday, although she doesn't agree with Matlow's description of the train as a "boutique service."

Aikins said the service will try to establish a fare structure that offers a break for families, children and seniors. She also said the UP Express will add "another option" for travellers heading to and from Pearson, along with the TTC's Airport Rocket service, which is a direct bus to the airport from Kipling subway station for the price of a regular TTC fare.

A fee 'for not parking at the airport?'

One of the more controversial components of the UP Express fare is a $1.85 fee intended to compensate the Greater Toronto Airport Authority for lost parking revenue. Matlow argues this will discourage travellers from using the airport train.

"We're going to be paying to not park at the airport, which is absurd" said Matlow, "This fee would penalize air travellers for making a choice that helps fight congestion," he adds in his motion to council.

Aikins, however, said the fee was a requirement of the GTAA on whose property the airport stop will be located.

Below is a video about Union Pearson Express produced by Metrolinx.