Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Glen Murray announced at a press conference yesterday in the Union Station Skywalk that the Union Pearson Express is on time to be built for the 2015 Pan AM/Parapan Am Games. Murray was on hand with Kathy Haley, President of the Metrolinx Union Pearson Express (UPX), and Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx, to give an update on the UPX Union Station terminal's progress, as well as present updated renderings of the station. The bulk of the press conference, however, was Murray answering questions about a potential Scarborough subway. We have two new renderings, and the details of press conference below!

Image of the UPX Skywalk ticket station, courtesy of Metrolinx

As reported earlier, all parts of the rail link are now underway. Murray stressed how the terminal would connect with other major transit infrastructure such as the TTC and Via Rail, and what a boon it would be to be able to connect passengers at Pearson Airport with Downtown Toronto in approximately 25 minutes.

“The system accommodates people and the most important innovation and invention in human history: wheels on luggage. This will be a seamless connection.” The Union Station terminal will have barrier-free access to Front Street and the rest of the transportation options via elevators.

Murray seemingly took a few jabs at Toronto City Council, saying that the line was 100% provincially funded.

“Too many parts of the [GTA] have waited 20, 30, or 40 years while people talked about transit. We're actually building it.”

New rendering of the inside of the UPX Skywalk terminal, courtesy of Metrolinx

Old rendering of the inside of the UPX Skywalk terminal, courtesy of Metrolinx

McCuaig praised the work that had been done by Metrolinx.

“We're focused on providing a transportation system that is modern, efficient, and integrated.”

Neither McCuaig nor Murray made any mention about the potential fare for the service at the press conference. It is understood that the cost of a ticket will be over $20 one-way.

Haley then took the podium to present the new renderings of the station to the crowd.

“This clever design [by MMM Group and Zeidler Partnership Architects] maximizes the space, and creates an 18,400 square foot experience for guests over two levels. Our guests will even have the opportunity to experience Ontario first hand, through a unique partnership with Ontario businesses to provide a sampling of some of our local specialties.”

Questions were completely dominated by the news that the Liberal Government might be caving into the demand by Mayor Ford and some councillors to turn the approved LRT into a subway. Murray chastised Toronto City Council for their inability to stick to a decision.

“We had the Miller plan which we worked through, we had the Ford plan, the Stintz plan, and now we may have another contradictory motion.”

He also ribbed the Federal Government for refusing to help fund investment in transit infrastructure.

“Only one of the three orders of government is stepping up and putting its money where its mouth is, and getting stuff built.”

New rendering of the outside of the UPX Skywalk terminal, courtesy of Metrolinx

Old rendering of the outside of the UPX Skywalk terminal, courtesy of Metrolinx

Murray, however, did not shut the door on a subway for Scarborough. While he stood by LRTs as a good investment and maligned those who compared it to a streetcar, Murray said that if Toronto City Council could make the case for a subway, then he's be willing to talk. He made it clear that Scarborough would be getting new transit investment one way or the other, stressing that there was no project that was more important. But Murray indicated that it was ultimately the provincial government's call to make.

“The decision about Scarborough will not be made at [Toronto City Hall] , the decision about Scarborough will be made at Queen's Park. I am not fussed over whether it's an LRT or a subway. This is about jobs and investments.”

Murray stressed that getting new investment in Scarborough, such as new office development, would only happen if the transit was in place. But he also warned the city to get their zoning in place to avoid repeating the lessons of the Bloor-Danforth subway, where some argue investment in properties nearby was hampered by restrictive zoning that has prevented growth. He reiterated however, that the council would need to be firm with their decision.

“If you're asking me if I'm ready to drop everything and say 'okay yeah we're just going do a subway? No. We work in partnership with the City. We need to see a lot more work done than just passing a motion at council and saying 'we changed our mind like we changed our socks.'”

Visual of the Union-Pearson Express, courtesy of Metrolinx

What do you think about the new renderings? How about the Minister's comments about the Scarborough LRT/subway debate? Leave a comment below, or join the conversation in our forum!

Related Companies:  AECOM, Carillion PLC, City of Toronto, EllisDon, entro, Entuitive, FGMDA, Hatch, Metrolinx, MMM Group Limited, Morrison Hershfield, NORR Architects, PARTISANS, Priestly Demolition Inc., RJC Engineers, WSP, Zeidler Partnership Architects