News / Toronto

UPX ridership drops by 23 per cent

A new Metrolinx report claims only 2,500 people are using the service daily.

The Union-Pearson Express runs from downtown Toronto to the airport every 20 minutes.

Steve Russell/Torstar News Service

The Union-Pearson Express runs from downtown Toronto to the airport every 20 minutes.

Numbers released Friday by Metrolinx show ridership on the Union-Pearson Express has dipped 23 per cent since July.

Two months ago, Metrolinx claimed 3,250 passengers were using the service daily. However, a report slated to go before the transit agency’s board next week says the service is averaging only 2,500 riders each day.

“We are very pleased with ridership so far… and we anticipate that we will reach our daily ridership target of 5,000 riders by the end of the first full year of operation,” the report reads.

Ridership has been a controversial issue since the airport rail link started operating in June of this year. Critics claim that at $27.50 for a one-way trip ($19 with a Presto Card), the service is too expensive to attract passengers.

Transit advocacy group TTCriders has called for UPX to be incorporated into the TTC and priced appropriately. The group did its own count of riders earlier this summer and found the 173-seat train was averaging only 14 passengers per trip.

“While these virtually empty UP Express trains pass us by… the thousands of residents who live in Toronto’s west end are stuck in traffic or packed like sardines on the chronically underfunded and overcrowded TTC,” Spokesman for TTCriders Shaun Cleaver said in a press release.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said the initial numbers were reported after only two weeks of service, which included the opening day’s events. She’s confident UPX will meet its ridership goals by the end of year.

“Ridership is building and now that we are out of the low travel period of the summer we are seeing all the business and convention travellers,” she said.