After a few years of promises and construction Union Pearson Express train became a reality. Operated by Metrolinx, one way ticket on UP Express was over $27.50+ tax which to anyone who does not live across the street from Union station never appeared like a reasonable fair especially when traveling with more than one person because an average cab from your door to the terminal gate is around $50.
Needless to say UP Express was struggling to fill the trains so earlier this year Metrolinx dropped the prices to $12 ($9 if you have a Presto card) but not after blaming the Torontonians for it’s lack of popularity. So armed with my recently acquired Presto card I decided to give UP Express a try on my way to Vancouver.
The good: The train runs every 15 minutes and does take “25 speedy minutes” from Union to Pearson. The seats are quite comfortable so the ride is pretty pleasant and if you are closer to Bloor or Weston there are stops there as well. On the Union platform there is a Mill St Brewery Pub, Balzac’s Coffee, and a mini Drake General store. There is supposedly an UP Magazine available on board but I have not been able to locate it.
The bad: You still need to find, and pay, your way to Union station with whatever luggage you are carrying. The platform for UP express is located 15-20 min away from Union station through constructions and paths and once you arrive to Pearson you have to take the airport train to get to your gate. In my case it took nearly an hour and a half to get from Downtown core (with 3 subway stops) to security point.
Additionally, if you are using a Presto card you have to be careful where you tap on. The train is apparently also used by riders to get from Union to Weston which is a different fair so if you tap onto the train using a green Presto machine your fee is going to be applied incorrectly and remain open until you use it the next time. The silver UP machine is across from the Presto machine and neither of them are clearly marked.
Ridership on UP Express has supposedly more than doubled since the fares were cut but unless you leave right near the station 25 min and $9 will not be your only investment which is perhaps why the trains are still fairly empty. I will likely use it again but never with a heavy suitcase or on a tight schedule.