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Toronto's UP Express is running empty during Pan Ams, advocacy group says

Photo: UP Express

The UP Express – Metrolinx’s gold-plated airport shuttle that runs between Pearson Airport and Union Station – is running virtually empty during the Pan Am Games, according to a grassroots transit advocacy group.

TTCriders reported Friday that according to their informal observations, the UPX is running at 8 per cent capacity – an average of 14 people per train. Each train has a 173-passenger capacity.

The UP Express, which began operation on June 6 in anticipation of the Pan Am Games, departs Pearson every 15 minutes for a 25-minute trip to Union Station. A one-way fare costs $27.50 without a Presto card.

TTCriders manually counted passengers entering and exiting the UP Express at Pearson between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne takes the controls of the Union Pearson Express train from Union Station to Pearson airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

“Toronto is crying for a true public line with stops in our neighbourhoods and TTC fares but instead Metrolinx and the Province gave us a luxury line that even the wealthy aren’t using,” TTCriders says.

The 8 per cent capacity isn’t far off of the numbers Metrolinx itself has been boasting about. On July 11, the Toronto Sun reported that the airport rail link is averaging 3,250 riders per day, roughly 12 per cent of capacity.

“We are very pleased with numbers so far,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said.

Pearson Airport services about 100,000 passengers per day.