Starting March 9, ticket prices for the struggling Union-Pearson Express (UPX) train, will be reduced by almost 50 percent.
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced the lowered ticket prices at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“This is in the interest of providing middle-class families and commuters with more affordable options so that we can help reduce gridlock on our roads and highways,” Del Duca said.
UPX was not intended to be a commuter service. It was to cater to a small niche of business travellers. The transit line has been operating at only 10 percent capacity over the past few months, prompting the change of its business model.
Lowering fare prices is a good start, but more work needs to be done in order to make UPX more accessible to the masses, critics say.
“Right now if you catch the Union Pearson train, then catch the TTC afterwards, you have to buy two tickets,” says Jessica Bell, executive director of TTCriders, an advocacy group for transit.
As more commuters use the line, Bell says UPX will need to buy bigger trains to fit more people. Currently, the trains have less capacity than a subway car.
Aside from fare integration, more stops needs to be added to serve west-end commuters, says Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri Dinovo.
As chair of the public accounts committee, Dinovo says that the government has been vying for this drop for almost a decade.
“They consistently ignored our calls and those from the Auditor General for information on the cost of running the UPX, how much money they’ve actually lost to date and how the new fares is going to work into the overall budget plan,” Dinovo says.
These changes would not be needed if Metrolinx opted for a mass transit line from the beginning, instead of a luxury route for business travellers.
“They were out of touch with what Torontonians want,” Bell says. “They had the wrong vision.”