On The UP & UP: Open Jaw Test Drives Union Pearson Express
with Martha Chapman
A smiling greeter at ticket sales
The shiny new interior
Arrival at YYZ
And viola! Onto the concourses
don't live in the greater Toronto area, you were probably spared all the
hoo-haw about the Union Pearson Express train service (nicknamed UP) which
debuted recently to coincided with the Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games. “Too
expensive." “Too noisy." “Too polluting."
thought we'd take to the rails to see what the service is actually like. Why
not join us for the ride?
Arrive Union Station by subway and proceed to try to find the UP service. Given
my awful sense of direction and the Station's status as the largest transit hub
in the country, this is a good test. Fortunately, there are signs, albeit small
ones, about every 20 ft to take you along the 5 min. walk to the UP platform.
Along the way are cheeky ads for UP: “Hit the road, road."
at the sparkling ticket counter to be greeted by friendly UP girl in much
ballyhooed uniform. Purchase one way ticket to the airport for (gulp) $27.50.
(The fare is only $19 if you use a Presto card which is valid on several
regional transit systems such as the GO commuter trains.) Notice you can also
check in for AC, WS and UA flights here.
onto shiny new train which features generous luggage racks, free WiFi and
screens listing any flight delays. Also a very hipster UP magazine in the seat
pocket. My car also features about 10 pax and strong 'new train' smell.
glides out of station. It picks up speed and we are soon leaving the downtown
core, leaving me 25 min. to chat with fellow pax. One YYC man, who's
already a repeat rider, comments: “They've done it well. Lots of staff,
spotless trains, beautiful experience." From a YUL'er: “Fantastic. I'm
impressed by the low emission engines. I'm a big proponent of mass transit and
you cannot get to the airport in 25 min. any other way. Legally, that is! This
way it always takes the same amount of time, it's roomy. I'd definitely ride it
again." One staff member mentions that pax appreciate the comfort, convenienc,
and speed. “Yes it is expensive compared to public transit, but that can be
confusing especially if you are from out of town." (The TTC, our local transit
commission, offers a non-stop luggage rack-equipped bus service from the
westernmost subway station included in your $3.00 one way cash transit fare.)
pull into one of the 2 stops enroute to the airport. No one gets on or off at
passing a stunning golf course and the light industry surrounding the airport,
the train glides to a halt at a shiny new platform. Excellent signage points
pax to walkways to the concourses of Terminals 1 or 2, and there is a short
monorail ride to T3.
3:00 I make
my way to the TTC bus service at arrivals level which will take me within a
block of my home. I board the tired old bus with shuffling airport employees
and a few luggage-laden visitors; deposit my 3 bucks; bus has noticeable old