A Metrolinx report quietly released today shows ridership levels on the controversial UPX train have dropped 23% since they were last reported.

Despite the shocking drop, Metrolinx maintains the train is a success stating in its report that “we are very pleased with ridership so far”.


  1. Please join us at and hand out fliers and then watch the Metrolinx board meeting on Tuesday, September 22 at 97 Front St, West. We’re flyering from 9.15am to 9.45am.  The board meeting starts at 9.45am.  Contact Dane if you’d like to join us! (416) 892-3620 · renodane at rogers.com.
  2. Tell Metrolinx and the Wynne Government to convert the Union Pearson train into a truly useful clean public transit line with stops in our neighbourhoods and TTC fares.

These new figures mean that nine out ten seats are empty if the trains run at their full 3-car capacity.  On average 16 people take each 173 seat train.

“The Union Pearson should be the Downtown Relief Line for the west, but instead it’s an empty luxury line for jet setters,” said spokesperson, Jessica Bell. “This is poor transit planning,” she said.

Today’s report, posted quietly on the Metrolinx website, says that the UPX train is averaging just 2,500 riders a day since launch, a 23% drop since the last report on ridership figures.  In its last report Metrolinx said that an average of 3,250 riders were taking the train each day. 

Metrolinx has failed to release month-by-month ridership figures that would give the public a clear indication of ridership trends.  Instead Metrolinx has just released the overall cumulative average ridership numbers since launch which obscure the details of the full ridership drop since free tickets for the Pan Am Games ended. 

“While these virtually empty UP Express trains pass us by, the rest of the airport’s 40,000 workers, as well as 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,” says Shaun Cleaver, TTCriders spokesperson. 

The 23-km UPX train line is nearly as long as the 26-km Bloor-Danforth TTC train line, and like the Bloor-Danforth line, it runs through one the most heavily populated regions in Canada. 

However, while the Bloor-Danforth line carries about 180 million people a year, the UP Express line will carry just 2.94 million by 2031, provided the train meets Metrolinx’s ridership growth goals.   By 2031, these trains would still be just one third full. 

TTCriders is calling for the Union Pearson train to be converted into a truly useful clean public transit line with stops in our neighbourhoods and TTC fares.   

The Wynne Government and Metrolinx might want to look to Vancouver on how to do it right. Vancouver’s new 19-km train line from the Airport to downtown has 16 stops, and it costs the regular public transit fare to ride it within the city.  Riders pay a $5 fare surcharge if they use the Airport stop, but many riders are exempt, including monthly metropass holders. 

“There will come a day when Metrolinx and the Wynne Government wake up and convert the UP express into a truly useful, affordable train,” says TTCriders spokesperson, Shaun Cleaver. “This report tells us the Wynne Government and Metrolinx are still asleep at the wheel.” 

Metrolinx’s spokesperson, Anne Marie Aikins told Metro News that Metrolinx is still confident about meeting their ridership target of 5000 riders a day (and even then the trains would be running at just 18% capacity). She said that “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.”

The truth is that Pearson Airport traffic is actually highest in the summer months. Take a look at this statistical report  released by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority.   Let’s take 2014 as an indiction of passenger trends.  In 2014, passenger traffic during July, August, and September during 2014 was 11,043,705.  Passenger traffic during October, November, and December was 9,156,954.  That means two million more people travelled through Pearson during Summer than the Fall last year.  And the highest month for airport travel was August with 4,009,081 passengers.

Anyway, we at TTCriders see this as beside the point.  The Union Pearson line shouldn’t cater to just jet setters and their schedules; it should be useful for you and me and everyone in Toronto.

Read Metrolinx’s September 22 report on the UPX.   

Metrolinx not worried about UP Express ridership, After six weeks service averaging 3,250 riders daily, News Talk 1010, July 17, 2015

Tell Metrolinx and the Wynne Government to convert the Union Pearson train into a truly useful clean public transit line with stops in our neighbourhoods and TTC fares.

Read Metro News Luke Simcoe’s article on the drop in Union Pearson ridership.

UPX By the Numbers

Trains per day:  156

Seats per 3-car train: 173

Seated capacity per day: 26,998

Average daily ridership since opening (today’s report): 2,500

Average daily ridership since opening at last report: 3,250 

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One Response to Metrolinx “very pleased” with 23% drop in ridership on Union Pearson train. We’re not.

  1. […] the ttcriders article here and the Metrolinx report (you’ll need to patiently wade through the corporate […]