“The price is a bit high, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind”: why people are paying $27.50 to ride the UP Express
“The price is a bit high, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind”: why people are paying $27.50 to ride the UP Express

By Justin Li | June 12, 2015

By Justin Li | 06/12/2015

(Images: Giordano Ciampini)
The long, anxiety-ridden journey to Pearson Airport is a Toronto tradition—but now, for some people, it’s a thing of the past. On June 6, Metrolinx launched its long-awaited Union Pearson Express, a 25-minute train service from Union Station directly to Pearson’s terminal one. The only issue is the price: at $27.50 for every one-way trip (or $19 with a Presto card), tickets might be a little too costly for riders without expense accounts. We asked some passengers why the price of admission was worth it for them.

317566 <strong>Sverre Soraa, 50</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> CEO of a seafood company<br />
<strong>Destination:</strong> Norway<br />
<br />
“I can check out from the Fairmont Hotel and just go across the street. Of course I’ll take it. It’s very comfortable and convenient. We have the same system in Norway, but a bit cheaper.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-SVERRE https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-SVERRE-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-SVERRE.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-SVERRE.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-sverre/ union-pearson-express-streeter-sverre 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317563 <strong>Richard Yin, 50</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Marketer<br />
<strong>Destination:</strong> China<br />
<br />
“My home is close to Union Station, so the UP Express is convenient for me. Sometimes I take taxis, but they’re small. Here, there’s more space. And the price is reasonable.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-RICHARD https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-RICHARD-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-RICHARD.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-RICHARD.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-richard/ union-pearson-express-streeter-richard 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317567 <strong>Wariz Anifowoshe, 26</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Student<br />
<strong>Destination:</strong> New York<br />
<br />
“It’s cheaper than a cab. Also, I haven’t been in Toronto since my childhood, so I’m not familiar with the TTC. The express is more simple.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-WARIZ https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-WARIZ-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-WARIZ.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-WARIZ.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-wariz/ union-pearson-express-streeter-wariz 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317557 <strong>Jake Gold, 22 and Andrew Mark, 21</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Students<br />
<strong>Destination:</strong> Israel<br />
<br />
Jake: “It’s convenient, and far cheaper than taxis.”<br />
<br />
Andrew: "We’re from Montreal, so we don’t feel comfortable taking the TTC." (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-JAKEANDREW https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JAKEANDREW-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JAKEANDREW.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JAKEANDREW.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-jakeandrew/ union-pearson-express-streeter-jakeandrew 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317555 <strong>Don Wallace, 67</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Corporate credit manager<br />
<strong>Destination:</strong> Atlanta<br />
<br />
“Driving to Pearson, taking the 401, I had to schedule to anticipate traffic, which you can’t always do. With the train, I can avoid that issue and the stress. The price is a bit high, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-DON https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-DON-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-DON.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-DON.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-don/ union-pearson-express-streeter-don 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317558 <strong>Jason Hickman, 44</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Lawyer<br />
<strong>Arriving From:</strong> Tampa Bay<br />
<br />
“I used to take the TTC to Pearson, and this is better. It’s faster and you don’t have to take a long bus ride after a long subway ride. The price is not completely unreasonable and out of range for me, but hopefully they can make it a bit more affordable for others.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-JASON https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JASON-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JASON.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JASON.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-jason/ union-pearson-express-streeter-jason 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317559 <strong>Jay Denney, 37</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Political Advisor<br />
<strong>Arriving From:</strong> Victoria, British Columbia<br />
<br />
“For me, travelling solo on the UP Express is half the price of a cab, and I enjoy the predictability. I do wish it was cheaper, though. In Vancouver, it’s only $4.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-JAY https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JAY-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JAY.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-JAY.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-jay/ union-pearson-express-streeter-jay 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317562 <strong>Pauline Eaton, 53</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Vice president of a clinical services company<br />
<strong>Arriving From:</strong> Florida<br />
<br />
“It could be a bit cheaper. If I went in on a cab with my husband, we’d be paying about the same.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-PAULINE https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-PAULINE-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-PAULINE.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-PAULINE.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-pauline/ union-pearson-express-streeter-pauline 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317561 <strong>Miranda Su, 49</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Vice president at the Joy Factory, a tablet accessory company<br />
<strong>Arriving From:</strong> Los Angeles<br />
<br />
“It goes to and from the city pretty fast. It’s also comfy and the free Wi-Fi is an excellent feature. In L.A., we have a train but it doesn’t go directly to the airport. We wish we had something similar to this.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-MIRANDA https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-MIRANDA-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-MIRANDA.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-MIRANDA.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-miranda/ union-pearson-express-streeter-miranda 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317560 <strong>Maz Marqa, 22</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Student<br />
<strong>Arriving From:</strong> Pearson Airport, where he'd picked up a friend<br />
<br />
“I’ve tried all the different ways to get to Pearson, and so far the UP Express is the best. It’s easier, more convenient, and more efficient. I expected a GO train, but this is much more fancy.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-MAZ https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-MAZ-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-MAZ.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-MAZ.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-maz/ union-pearson-express-streeter-maz 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317565 <strong>Sophia Samander, 22</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Student<br />
<strong>Arriving From:</strong> The United Kingdom<br />
<br />
“In the UK, you can take a cab or the subway or a coach. The subway is underground, so you don’t get to enjoy the the view like this, and the coach costs £20 [$38 CAD].” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-SOPHIA https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-SOPHIA-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-SOPHIA.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-SOPHIA.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-sophia/ union-pearson-express-streeter-sophia 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
317564 <strong>Rob Dickinson, 56</strong><br />
<strong>Occupation:</strong> Biomedical engineer<br />
<strong>Destination:</strong> South Africa<br />
<br />
“I saw the UP Express advertised in a magazine and had to take it. I would rather take this than two or three buses, any day. I think this is good for your city. Your taxes are being put to good use.” (Image: Giordano Ciampini) union-pearson-express-streeter-ROB https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-ROB-150x150.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-ROB.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/union-pearson-express-streeter-ROB.jpg 1200 800 [] https://torontolife.com/city/the-price-is-a-bit-high-but-its-worth-it-for-the-peace-of-mind-why-people-are-paying-27-50-to-ride-the-up-express/slide/union-pearson-express-streeter-rob/ union-pearson-express-streeter-rob 0 0
(Image: Giordano Ciampini)
When something’s cheaper in Norway you know you have a problem

They aren’t smart enough to figure out how to use Uber.

All engineer’s lawyers, CEO’s and a few clueless tourists. I don’t see as many people as we should see on the train. Who knows, it might last, it might not. The future is in the age of technology, so if they think this system can keep up with whatever improvements of commuting from A to B brings, such as Uber or Lyft, then best of luck.

Who are the engineer’s lawyers you refer to? The CEO’s what?

A guaranteed 25 minute ride either way (or less if you take it from Bloor or Weston) is pretty amazing as is the fact that you can take a train every 15 minutes. Although I agree the price is high (much less with a Presto card), it is all about convenience and stress-free travel. it works well for people who live along the corridor (many residents of Toronto live in the South and West), those who can get quick access via the TTC, those who have to take the Go Train, VIA train or Amtrak to get home inside and outside of the GTA, and those who do not want to park at the airport for an extended vacation and pay more overall. There are definite advantages. This will catch on eventually. UBER is great for sure but traffic in T.O. can be terrible at times. I would ask that people try it first and see how it works for them. I have and it works really well. This is part of an overall transit plan.

It is reliable, convenient and for a single person or any couple that, after a long transatlantic flight, needs to get Downtown, it is faster and cheaper than a taxi. Of course Uberx is cheaper, but if you can only get UberBlack taxis then the UPE is the right option. I have tried it 4 times and it makes sense. And no, Lorenzo, I am neither a clueless tourist, lawyer or engineer. But I will be happy to discuss further with you once I become a CEO. I am sure that the train will repacked when the PanAm games starts up.

Neither Uber nor Lyft can guarantee a 25 minute trip from Pearson to Union. Time is valuable.

Union to Pearson with a Presto Pass is $19 and takes 25 minutes. Last time I took an UberX during slow commuter times it took about 40 minutes and cost $38. There’s a lot going for both sides of this, but one thing is for certain and it’s that I will never be taking TTC then the 192 Rocket to get to the airport.

I don’t understand why the $19 ticket price is so offensive to people? That is a reasonable price, and express trains to international airports are relatively standard for large cities. It’s nice to see a little ambition coming from TO, so let’s appreciate that.

This train was designed for business people and tourists, that is it. The average person is totally screwed by the cost and inconvenience of getting to Union.

Unless you’re right at Union Station it’s another $3 to get there and you have to factor in the amount of time to get to Union Station, as well. So for two people traveling together without Presto cards, you’re looking at $61 to get to Pearson. It seems like the price was determined to make sure cabs servicing the airport don’t have to compete on cost. Why would people traveling together go this way? The convenience of getting picked up and dropped off wherever you like more than outweighs the marginally higher cost. If UP Express is really supposed to change behavior, the cost is way too high. It’ll go belly up with taxpayers on the hook for it.

So it sounds like the game plan is going to be this:

1) Buy a presto card ($6?) ASAP.

2) Never pay $27.50.

3) In the early morning/late evening when commute times are not an issue, take uber (where are you Lyft?).

4) When there is congestion, use this.

5) If I don’t have too much luggage and am coming from Bloor, just keep using the 192 shuttle from the Bloor Line.

In Chicago, the train to the airport costs $3. In Boston it costs $2.25. The only place I can think of that’s more expensive than this one is from Heathrow to London and that’s only if you want the express (which is faster than UP Express, although Heathrow is father from central London than Pearson is from Toronto). The local is only 6 pounds 50 and takes 45 minutes.

All 12 people who took this to the airport were interviewed for this.

True. But who’s going from Pearson just to Union? 95% of the people in Toronto don’t live right by Union Station, so they need a cab or the TTC from there.

And then there’s the cost of the plane ticket to think of… honestly, quit your bitching. If you can afford to travel, $19 – because that’s the cost for anyone with five extra minutes to grab a Presto card – is not expensive. The minimal cost of the card itself still balances out in one trip. Take a cab or the TTC if you don’t like the UP.

Won’t be the five of us in our family. Don’t think we’re the target market.

Depends on your location in the city and approximity to transit and the airport.

For me, taking the subway to take the bus to the airport is a cost convenient option but the time and inconvenience factor is huge. And getting back to the city from the airport is usually an ordeal. So subway/bus usually gets ruled out despite the cost advantage.

A taxi usually will take me $70.00 to $80.00 in total, one way. An airport limosine with flat rate, is $60.00. So in comparison, taking the UP Express from Union for less than $30.00 is a great option to me. I have already used the UP Express several times since it opened and while $30.00 each way seems inconvenient, it is still better than the taxi or limo, is quick, quiet, and direct from Union. It really has made things easier.

Should the cost of the UP Express be more compatible to GO Train rates? Absolutely. But I am still winning in cost and time/convenience compared to the other options.

Inconvenience of getting to Union?

I don’t know how inconvenient it is. It’s the hub for all of GO transit, including buses, it’s in the downtown core, it’s obviously on the subway line, hell you could even take a Via rail train to get there, and if you must drive for some reason then the Gardiner and DVP are quite close to Union as well.

If you’re anywhere around the downtown area or to the east in places like East York and southwest Scarborough then this makes sense.

Taxi, drive, or TTC to Pearson from somewhere east Yonge and south of St. Clair? No thank you.

I recently took the train from Pearson International Airport to Union Station. The ride was a bit shaky but OK. The signage at the airport is very poor. I had to ask several people how to get to the train and most of them did not know. The signage at Union Station to get to a taxi was also very poor. Metrolinx will have to work on directions after we pick up our luggage at the airport. If this is not done, people will take a cab instead because of the difficulty to find the platform for the train. I live in the St. Lawrence neighborhood so the taxi fare cost me $7.50 to get from Union to my home plus a tip. So I ended up paying about $35.00 in total because I am a senior. For me it worked out cheaper than taking a taxi which cost me $57.00 plus a tip when I went away before the train was working. If I was travelling with a partner, I would have taken a taxi. MY BEEF. Work on the signage. It might be a good idea if the fares are made cheaper when two or more people are travelling together. No need to spend all that money to take the train, especially when they have to get to and from Union Station. They can get a cab to and from their home for less. It is a shame that Management did not think of all these things before.

Check the regular prices again. I am assuming that is if you travel all the time on certain transit systems and have a Presto card. I may be mistaken about the Presto card. I hardly use public transportation because everything is within walking distance from where I live.