Your humble correspondent took an airport express train yesterday—not our airport express, mind you, but the one in Vancouver, another world-class city that, you remember, hosted the Olympics, not merely the Pan-Am Games.
It was great: fast, clean, with room to spare, plenty of stops, and a drop-off right at the airport. It was also $4. Yes, $4. Not the roughly $25 the fare is likely to be on the UP Express in Toronto.
In Vancouver, you do pay a premium to take the Skytrain to the airport. From downtown, it’s an additional $1.25 (less than you’ll pay to not park at Pearson). Leaving from the airport, it’s an additional $5 if you don’t know enough to buy a ticket at the 7-11 downstairs.
The exorbitant fares for the UP Express have been drawing lots of attention lately. Councillor Josh Matlow is asking Metrolinx to make the fares affordable. So is Frances Nunziata, who also criticized the proposed fares in 2012. The fares have also been catching heat on Global News, The Star, and the CBC.
Metrolinx has not been responsive to the criticism. A spokesperson told the Star:
“Business travellers are used to paying the cost of a cab and this will definitely be cheaper than the cost of a cab from downtown… it’s looking to be comparable to the express bus.”
Mind you, the Airport Express bus is going out of business, a cab will take its fare to wherever she wants to go (not just Union Station) and will carry her luggage. Further, business travellers are generally able to expense the costs of cabs.
Even with the high fares, the Auditor General of Ontario said that there is no business case for the UP Express: Metrolinx will be unable to find a combination of riders and prices that covers costs.