Here’s a fact: bad news is always released Friday at 4.
Dateline, Weston, Friday 4 pm: The UPX numbers are out. And they are bad.
If, like me, you are interested in sophistry, the report is worth reading. Metrolinx buries the lead behind delicate apology:
It takes time to build awareness and loyalty. Feedback from riders has been overwhelmingly positive, giving us confidence that the more people who try UP Express the more long-term customers we will gain.
While we acknowledge that ridership levels are below what was projected, we now know much more about consumer behaviour and the realities of the market than we did when those projections were made. We are adjusting to meet the challenges. Because of the positive feedback we have received from people who are using UP Express, we have every reason to believe ridership will grow over time.
That last part is a lie: there is no reason to believe that ridership will increase. Ridership in November and December tanked.
- 2186 people rode the UPX daily in November
- 2184 rode it daily in December–even though Pearson is much busier that month.
The report says, optimistically, that daily ridership is “approximately 2400”. I don’t know how they got that number.
Ridership has been declining since service began. When it started in July, about 3250 people rode the train daily. By September, 2500 people were riding it. Last month it had dropped by another 100.
Metrolinx had promised that ridership would be 5000 by the end of the first year of operation (to break even, it needs more). The last time I tried a calculation, I figured it was losing about $100,000 a day. That should surprise nobody: the Auditor General said the train would be a dud, and the private public partnership folded because there was no profit to be made.