UP express breaks ridership record during free weekend: Metrolinx
Guest Services Representative Noah Espiritu stands outside the Union Pearson Express train from Union Station to Pearson airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Published Sunday, February 14, 2016 1:15PM EST
More than 10,000 people took advantage of free rides on the Union Person Express on Saturday, a Metrolinx spokesperson said, setting a new ridership record for the airport train.
Amid a struggle to attract riders, Metrolinx offered free rides on the UPX from Saturday to Monday.
Spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said more than 10,000 people took the UPX on Saturday. Between 30 and 50 per cent of them were air travellers. The rest were commuters.
Just four months after its launch, UPX ridership plummeted to its lowest point last November with just under 66,000 riders for the month, according to a report released last week.
In December, 67,229 riders took the train. That means the UPX operated at about 8 per cent capacity during the two months.
Metrolinx is facing mounting criticism that the passenger fare on the $456-million train is too expensive. The $27.50 one-way ticket price, some argue, is to blame for the low ridership numbers.
In the report, however, Metrolinx argues that “it takes time to build awareness and loyalty.”
“Feedback from riders has been overwhelmingly positive,” the report said, “giving us confidence that the more people who try UP Express the more long-term customers we will gain.”
On Friday, the provincial transit agency announced it would reconsider the pricing to attract more customers.
Metrolinx also said it will look to find other ways to grow ridership, including improving signage and promotional programs.