I went in expecting to hate the UP Express. I ended up… well, not hating it.
The UP Express is the Union-Pearson Express, Toronto’s new train from downtown to Pearson Airport. Until now, your only options to get to/from the airport were cab, Uber, or TTC. There used to be an airport bus but it was discontinued long ago. It was always kind of sad for a big city like Toronto to not have a rail link to the airport.
But the UP Express is expensive. There’s been a lot of outrage over the price. It’s a 25 minute ride and costs $27.50 each way without a Presto card, or a whopping $53.00 roundtrip per person. With a Presto card (which costs $6), the fare is $19.00 each way. It’s pricey, especially when you consider that you can take an UberX to YYZ for approximately $28 and get picked up at your door.
For comparison, the Narita Express from Narita Airport to Tokyo is 4,000 yen ($40) roundtrip and the trip takes over an hour. A better comparison would be Hong Kong’s Airport Express — the airport to Hong Kong station is also 25 minutes and costs $180 HKD ($30) roundtrip.
For me, it makes almost no sense to ever take the UP Express because $106 for two people + the cost of getting to Union Station is way, way more than just taking a cab or Uber. Even with a Presto card, it doesn’t make sense. However, as a person who always leaves for the airport ridiculously early and has still missed a flight due to traffic, I’d consider taking it when I know traffic is especially bad. It’s also more fun than a cab, so there’s that. TRAINS!
I’m also just a little bit in love with the branding. Winkreative did an amazing job. The colours of the trains are kind of meh but the type and design are beautiful. (If it seems a bit familiar, Winkreative also did the branding for Porter Airlines.)
It was opening day for the UP Express, so balloons!
Free cake! TRAIN-SHAPED CAKE, no less.
And cute UP Express cookies.
Waiting for the train.
So new and pristine. New train smell!
Lots of space for luggage through each car — standard for an airport train.
The Nippon Sharyo builder’s plate. Thanks for the nice trains, Japan.
Snazzy uniforms by Klaxon Howl.
Fresh new seats.
UP Express magazines in the seatback pockets.
The branding of everything UP is perfect.
Two outlets at every seat. And wifi! <thumbs up emoji>
Screen at the front of each car. Since there are only a few stations, I wish the map at the top had a progress bar like this one on the Hong Kong Airport Express trains.
Mike kind of looks like he’s on vacation. (Hawaiian shirt from Tori Richard in Honolulu.)
More luggage space.
There are only two stops between Union Station and the airport: Bloor and Weston.
The Weston stop was still under construction.
Arriving at the airport.
YYZ. The trains arrive/depart from Terminal 1. (The best terminal, of course.)
The pretty ticket machines.
If you’re wondering how tickets work, you can either buy a ticket or use funds on your Presto card. They check tickets and Presto cards on on the train.
I like the all wood everything that is used through the stations.
Lots of nice signage.
Back on the train! Yes, I took the train just to the airport and back. Because TRAINS.
There’s a bathroom in each car. (Each train has two or three cars.)
Wheelchair-accessible, so fairly roomy.
Back at Union Station. I noticed the electronic signs and audio weren’t consistently in English and French, which is kind of weird for Canada.
If you need a coffee on your way to the airport, there is a convenient Balzac’s stand in the UP part of Union Station.
There’s even the most adorable UP Express coffee!
For hip last-minute souvenirs, there’s also a mini Drake General Store outpost.
I couldn’t resist this pin set. Aaaaahhh!
So in conclusion, the UP Express is pretty fancy for Toronto. It makes me happy that we have such a nice train to/from the airport. Buuuuuut at the same time, it’s prohibitively expensive and I’ll probably never take it.