It’s no surprise that the UPX continues to lose money. The Auditor General said it would, the private partner backed out because it would, and now, the Globe and Mail says it has evidence. The line loses about $20 million a year.
The math simply isn’t working. No fare can attract enough riders to cover the costs. By my calculation, at its current price, it would need to attract about 15,000 daily riders to break even; in other words, every train would have to be about half full. That might happen, but it’s not happening yet. Even free, the UPX only attracts 10,000. The Globe says the math is bad too: each person costs the province $5 in subsidies.
That’s bad, but it was much worse before:
A Globe and Mail assessment of the most recent available data shows that fare and other revenues fell $23.3-million short of operating costs over the first eight months of UPX operation. The result was a taxpayer subsidy of about $46 a rider, considerably more even than the Toronto Transit Commission gets for each user of its Wheel-Trans service.
Shocking. More shocking: I was right about something. I said the subsidy was $40.
It’s not all doom. I was on the UPX this weekend; it’s lovely. It’s unnecessarily lovely. The have an in-
flight ride magazine, for crying out loud. It is also extremely well staffed. There is room, I dare say, for efficiency.