MP Mike Sullivan says the UP Express will waste more than $2.5 billion in taxes—far more than the cancelled gas plants that badly burned the provincial Liberals. In an open letter to Kathleen Wynne, he says that the thrashing failure should be converted to an electrified public transit line to stop the bleeding.
Taxpayers will, Sullivan says, pay an astounding $53 to subsidize each rider on the UP Express—$83 after the costs of electrification are factored in.
He says that the solution is fill every seat on the train with paying public transit riders:
there is room for 180 passengers on each train between downtown and the airport. The Metrolinx plan is to have an average of 24 per train…. By adding a few more stops, and making the fare equivalent to a TTC fare, those trains would be full. All day. Yes, the business elite the train is designed to serve would have to rub shoulders with ordinary citizens going to work, but that should be a small price to pay for efficiency, and provide a better return for the taxpayers’ investment.
The math here doesn’t work; Sullivan says the business passengers will be paying $30 – $40 a ride, and 24 passengers x $35 leads to more revenue than than 180 passengers paying $3 a ride. Using Sullivan’s numbers, converting the line to public transit will actually cost taxpayers more. On the other hand, though, taxpayers would actually benefit more from the staggeringly ill-conceived line.