If you live in downtown Toronto, there are certain amenities considered the staple of the urban dweller; essentials like having a great coffee shop steps from your door, being within walking distance of a purveyor of fitness and well-being (or a great park), and having a Metropass are three that top the list. Well, there is a year-old transportation service that is struggling to join this list and become a 'go-to' choice for Toronto travelers: The Union Pearson Express.
Just in time for the Pan Am games this past Summer - and an influx of international guests - the ribbon was cut on the new Union Pearson Express. UP Express connects the country's two busiest transportation hubs: Toronto Pearson International Airport and Union Station in downtown Toronto. The goal of the project is to transform the way people travel between the airport and downtown, a journey that can often be tedious and traffic-congested.
Image courtesy of upexpress.com
It provides guests with an elevated (quite literally) travel experience, soaring 28-metres above the highway on an elevated spur track. Trains depart Union every 15 minutes, and take about 25 minutes to reach Pearson. Along the way, it takes on passengers at Bloor/Dundas West Station and Lawrence St West (at Weston Road).
Image courtesy of upexpress.com
Some fun facts about the UP Express:
• UP Express will be the first rail service in North America to use Tier 4 diesel which reduces airborne particulate emissions by 90 per cent and nitrogen oxides by 80 per cent compared to the existing technology.
• A three-car train accommodates up to 173 seated passengers
• There are 18 UP Express cars in service, making 140 trips per day.
• Amenities include: free WiFi, flight disruption information, overhead luggage storage, luggage racks at access doors, space for oversize baggage, power outlets, tray tables on seat backs, and literature like Toronto events information
Image courtesy of blogTO
I've had the pleasure of taking this journey myself, and was quite impressed with how fast the trip was, and how courteous and attentive the staff were. While the UP Express doesn't boast the most attractive colour scheme, the interior of the trains is an example of practical comfort. This isn't luxury travel; it's comfortable. Though the understated terminals at Union Station and Pearson win points for their modern and minimal design that will likely age well.
What was I less impressed with? The cost, which starts at $27.50/adult for a one way trip from Union Station, though children under 13 are free and if you're traveling a shorter distance (like from Bloor/Dundas West to Pearson it's only $22.00 one way or $36.40 return - Check out the fares here - .The cost has been the sticking point for many Torontonians - even those originally excited about a new rail track opening - who are re-evaluating the cost-benefit of the UP Express versus the TTC.
However, if you're a frequent traveler - and you live within walking distance to a stop - then cutting down your commute to 25 minutes or less to the airport is pretty phenomenal in a city where gridlock can strike at any time. In fact, we have one such listing for sale that's a four minute walk to the Bloor Go Station for the UP Express (and also steps to the Bloor Subway line!). Check out Sizzle And Spice In Bloordale Village offered for $589,000 just west at Bloor and Lansdowne!
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