Union Pearson Express | ?m | ?s | Metrolinx | MMM Group Limited

Woodbridge_Heights

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If the UPE is overcrowded this suggests the price is too low. Same as when it was underutilized when the price was too high. So, increase the price until the trains are full, but not over capacity. This will return the UPE to greater revenue per rider. We all have other means of getting to the airport.

From premium service to commuter 'milk run': Is the UP Express rolling in the right direction?

I would argue it is not. Return the UPE to it's original purpose, that of an premium airport express train.
I support bringing the UPX back to it's originally intended purpose (Transport to the airport from downtown). That GO/Metrolinx can't be bothered to get off their rears to provide the service that is clearly demanded along this route is irrelevant to the UPX
 

Admiral Beez

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I use UPX to get to and from the Convention Centre, Skydome Rogers Centre, and/or Scotiabank Arena. Especially when there is no GO Train running (or would have to wait forever for the next GO Train). So it is used NOT just to get to and from the airport.
But it should be. Like the https://www.heathrowexpress.com that starts at Paddington Stn and goes to Heathrow, with no stops in between. There are many other similar rail links to airports, most intended for airport travelers, not those unwilling to use commuter rail already in place, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airport_rail_link#North_America

The fact that folks are transit-hacking the UPE for non-airport travel demonstrates its failure in fare management. It's only a matter of time before intracity users start demanding additional stations, completely taking the Express out of the UPE name.

Now that airport users have had a taste of the UPE convenience, it's time to jack up the price to push out the non-airport crowd and start making money on fares on the now hooked Pearson flyers. Personally when it was $15 or whatever for a trip I loved it, train wasn't crowded and when I'm expensing a $2,000 fare to China the UPE is a bargain.
 
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innsertnamehere

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I live in Weston, commute to downtown on the UP. Its overcrowded when running 2-car trainsets, and generally everyone can sit if they're running 3-car trainsets.

If you're leaving from the Weston station:
UPX: 14 minutes to Union, $5.02 per trip....~$220 per 40-trip month (every 15 minutes).
GO Transit: 19 minutes to Union, $4.76 per trip....~$169 per month PRESTO (2-4 times per hour)
TTC: 59 minutes to Union, (via Lawrence West station), $3.10 per trip....~$138 per month PRESTO

When the price went up in April from $169/month to $220/month, there were very few people who moved from the UP platform to the GO platform to commute, as the Kitchener trains are almost always standing room only in-bound at rush hour, and there is a much better chance of getting a seat going downtown on the UP, even if its a 2-car train. For comparison, no other GO Station within the City limits is more than ~$185/month for GO PRESTO, with those just outside the City boundaries, like Rouge Hill, at about $235.

I'd argue that a 30% premium on a monthly basis for commuters using UP over GO is already high enough. And that's still 18% higher than the outermost GO stations within the City limits (like Guildwood, Milliken or Long Branch).
Rouge Hill is within the City of Toronto, not Pickering. That said, it's about 26km from Downtown, instead of 14km for Weston.
 

micheal_can

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The UPE is not a public service, at least it shouldn't be. When people are using the UPE for their daily transit downtown as opposed to using the TTC service ready-made for that service, the UPE is too cheap. In my book, the UPE should be only lightly subsidized since it's often used by business travelers like myself, who don't care what it costs. Increase the fares until the demand meets the supply.
It is still owned by the government. Therefore, it is a public service.
 

mdrejhon

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The UPE is not a public service, at least it shouldn't be. When people are using the UPE for their daily transit downtown as opposed to using the TTC service ready-made for that service, the UPE is too cheap. In my book, the UPE should be only lightly subsidized since it's often used by business travelers like myself, who don't care what it costs. Increase the fares until the demand meets the supply.
It's more lightly subsidized at the current price than back when it was >$20 (non-presto). Earlier napkin math of farebox recovery of UPX is approximately 50%-60%, similar to GO Transit, and far better than most North America transit. For better or for worse, I suspect UPX is now on a different path to becoming an upgraded rapid transit service (e.g. GO electrification, Pearson Hub, etc).
 

W. K. Lis

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Fair enough. And I want that public service to be sufficiently expensive to keep you off it, unless you’re going to/from the airport, as it was intended.
We don't have the numbers for UPX yet, but GO Transit had a farebox recovery ratio of 77% (2015/16) and the TTC had 72.8% (2017). The best for North America. See link.

If someone can provide a link for UPX, please supply it.
 

mdrejhon

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If someone can provide a link for UPX, please supply it.
Estimated UPX Farebox Recovery Ratio
My number is napkin mathed based on known published data:

Operating Expense: About $55M-$60M
First year opex was $63M/year (link). However, there were cuts to frills (elimination of magazine business, UPX suits, certain UPX-specific staff, etc) and some shared GO efficiencies when the UPX structure was merged into GO. So operating expense is likely slightly south of $60M.

Ridership: About $25-$35M/year
UPX ridrership is averaging between 10K-11K -- an article mentioned a 10,800 average. Recent years have been hovering 5 digit daily ridership averages. At current ridership at approx 11K per day (4M per year), at a rough estimate average $7.50 revenue = just slightly above $30 million dollars farebox per year. It was about 2.76M passengers from 2016-2017, but it's gone up to at least 4M. If we lowball to $6 average fare (commuter bias), that's $24M/year. If we highball to $8.50 average fare (airport bias), that's $34M/year. It's probably somewhere in between.

Divide $60M by $30M, and you get 50%. But as you can see the bias is likely <$60M opex, and farebox is likely >$30M. This is how I napkin-mathed a slightly-above-50% farebox recovery for UPX.

*****************
EDIT: The numbers might be better than I thought
"So much so that in the past four years, ridership on the UPX has quadrupled to about 4.5 million customers annually, according to Metrolinx. " (CBC link)
The high end of the farebox recovery ratio range could even exceed 70% by now. An opex of $55M and farebox of $38M. But transfers from other routes, will decrease numbers a bit, so let's call it even and say "50%-60% farebox recovery". Single-digit loss per rider, far better than the initial years of Sheppard subway. Nicely blended in with TTC/GO farebox recovery percentages!

Even if my numbers are way off, the farebox recovery is still spectacular by North America standards now. It might be slightly less % than the rest of the network, but certainly not the "Big loss per passenger" days of 2015 and 2016.

Not too shabby considering a lot of North America transit is a dismal well-sub-50% league of farebox recovery. Given an upgrade to a 4-coach EMU and lower operating costs of electric, farebox looks even more promising.
 
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Admiral Beez

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Estimated UPX Farebox Recovery Ratio
My number is napkin mathed based on known published data:

Operating Expense: About $55M-$60M
First year opex was $63M/year (link). However, there were cuts to frills (elimination of magazine business, UPX suits, certain UPX-specific staff, etc) and some shared GO efficiencies when the UPX structure was merged into GO. So operating expense is likely slightly south of $60M.

Ridership: About $25-$35M/year
UPX ridrership is averaging between 10K-11K -- an article mentioned a 10,800 average. Recent years have been hovering 5 digit daily ridership averages. At current ridership at approx 11K per day (4M per year), at a rough estimate average $7.50 revenue = just slightly above $30 million dollars farebox per year. It was about 2.76M passengers from 2016-2017, but it's gone up to at least 4M. If we lowball to $6 average fare (commuter bias), that's $24M/year. If we highball to $8.50 average fare (airport bias), that's $34M/year. It's probably somewhere in between.

Divide $60M by $30M, and you get 50%. But as you can see the bias is likely <$60M opex, and farebox is likely >$30M. This is how I napkin-mathed a slightly-above-50% farebox recovery for UPX.

*****************
EDIT: The numbers might be better than I thought
"So much so that in the past four years, ridership on the UPX has quadrupled to about 4.5 million customers annually, according to Metrolinx. " (CBC link)
The high end of the farebox recovery ratio range could even exceed 70% by now. An opex of $55M and farebox of $38M. But transfers from other routes, will decrease numbers a bit, so let's call it even and say "50%-60% farebox recovery". Single-digit loss per rider, far better than the initial years of Sheppard subway. Nicely blended in with TTC/GO farebox recovery percentages!

Even if my numbers are way off, the farebox recovery is still spectacular by North America standards now. It might be slightly less % than the rest of the network, but certainly not the "Big loss per passenger" days of 2015 and 2016.

Not too shabby considering a lot of North America transit is a dismal well-sub-50% league of farebox recovery. Given an upgrade to a 4-coach EMU and lower operating costs of electric, farebox looks even more promising.
Nice work, I appreciate your math and summary. If the UPE has a flat fare of $10 each way, regardless of starting point would we get closer to breakeven? We’d need to determine the point of diminishing returns.
 

mdrejhon

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Nice work, I appreciate your math and summary. If the UPE has a flat fare of $10 each way, regardless of starting point would we get closer to breakeven? We’d need to determine the point of diminishing returns.
That said...

Personally I prefer UPX to be integrated as a 5-to-10-minute frequency express route in GO Expansion. Basically TTC fare thru Eglinton stop, and an enhanced fare for airport passengers (maybe $6). I don't think there's anymore political will to keep UPX dedicated during electrification, given the woefully undersized trainset and the powderkeg factor of price-increases. I think frequency and train-size increases (e.g. 4-coach EMU, even bilevel) is far more likely than a UPX price increase.

It's more likely to become full flat-fare 416 integration where all urban portions of GO routes show up on the TTC subway map, as part of free timed transfers (~2h-ish) on the former GO/UPX network. Higher fares for outside the 416 zone, including Pearson etc.

A theoretical alternating 4-coach and 12-coach EMU combined with a theoretical 5-minute frequency (10-min Brampton 12-coach, 10-min Airport 4-coach) will help alleviate train-overload concerns for airport passengers.
 

W. K. Lis

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Subway from Kipling Stn to Pearson would make a lot of sense, especially for those working there. I remember spending over an hour's wages in transit each day I worked there in the early 1990s.
The Eglinton West LRT is planned to go to Pearson Airport, as part of the transit plans announced this week. Finch West LRT could be extended to Pearson as well, at a later date.
 

dowlingm

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The Eglinton West LRT is planned to go to Pearson Airport, as part of the transit plans announced this week. Finch West LRT could be extended to Pearson as well, at a later date.
Unless the LRT is lightning fast west of Mount Dennis, I honestly wonder how many people are going to ride it via the planned convoluted route via Renforth/Commerce. I suspect a branch via (under) the Hydro Corridor at Eglinton-Martin Grove direct to YYZ will be proposed at some point. (Such a branch could also be the northern phase of a link to Kipling)
 

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