Further facts of fare slashing

Twitterers and the community had a few thoughts on the changes that might come to Weston as a result of the new, lowered UPX fares.

Paul Ferreira pointed out that there is little reason to keep the GO stop here if the UPX costs the same and runs much more frequently. Surely few people get off the train here in the morning. The UPX, which runs 19 hours a day could entirely replace it.

I worried that Metrolinx would pull a bait-and-switch and raise fares again. But Bruce McCuaig, the CEO of Metrolinx, took to Metro Morning today to talk about the fares and ridership.

Unsurprisingly, the service will not cover its costs—in fact, he said that making money will be “pushed out in the future. But there are no plans to get us hooked and raise the fare again if ridership increases; prices will be reviewed only once a year.

Finally, the new prices will take effect March 9.

Several questions remain:

  • How will the service be integrated into the TTC? It would be lovely if we could transfer at low cost to the subway.
  • When and how will it connect to the Eglinton LRT in Mount Dennis? It seems impossible that it wouldn’t.
  • Will more stops, in Mount Dennis and Liberty Village perhaps, be built?
  • I think it will be great for commuters out; could it draw commuters in? Will people from elsewhere come work in Weston? Perhaps the low commercial rents and densities could generate a renaissance.

 

The Best Best Fare Structure for the UPX

Finally the barrage of criticism surrounding the Union Pearson Express has had a positive effect. As noted here earlier in WestonWeb, the Premier has ordered a review of the cost of a ticket for the much abused train. Based on the overwhelming response when the fare is zero, we shouldn’t assume that commuters will be tempted by a cost that strays too far beyond GO Train fares. As many have pointed out, if the price is too low, the trains will be overcrowded. However, with limited stops, the demand for a free return trip to the airport shouldn’t be confused with the needs of the relatively rare number of commuters who live close to the four stations along the line.

In addition to this important factor, many of the pundits’ armchair calculations of the revised price are based on cost recovery. This is completely inappropriate. Transportation systems are expensive, never recover their costs and just like roads, must be heavily subsidized by the taxpayer. Cost recovery can therefore never be achieved and is a false flag to go chasing after.

When money is invested in transportation infrastructure, the price may be high but the benefits are many. People spend less time commuting and are likely to be healthier both mentally and physically. Pollution is reduced and health care costs are lowered. Can you put a price on a healthier and happier population? Apparently some people can.

For better or worse, the investment in UPX is gone and will never be seen again. Luckily, the money was converted into some mighty fine infrastructure which should be adapted to serve ordinary folks.

For now, what should the price be? Looking at the abominably unintuitive GO Train fare calculator, the cost of a trip from Union to Malton Station (the same approximate distance as Union to Terminal 1), the full fare cost is $7.70. Given that the UPX train’s schedule is more frequent, a 15% surcharge is probably appropriate. Likewise with fares from Weston and Bloor, the same principle should operate. The only proviso should be that as in the recent free weekend, airline passengers showing a valid ticket should have priority.

The

(GO Train track is in green and UP Express in grey). Malton to Union Station is about the same distance as Terminal 1 to Union.

With those provisos, here is your new unofficial fare structure, labelled using the SmartTrack logo since eventually this line should be incorporated into Mayor Tory’s scheme.

For some reason, GO does not give students a discount. For that reason I have followed their lead. Along the same line of thinking, UP Express gives families a discount. I have removed these as revised costs would not be as prohibitive.

One Stop Fares; old and new.
Old and new one-stop fares for UP Express with GO Train equivalent fares in between.
Two Stop Fares
Old and new two-stop fares for UP Express with GO Train equivalent fares in between.
The Full Distance
Old and new Airport to Union fares for UP Express with GO Train equivalent fares in between.