Ontario U-turns on UP Express service changes

The Ontario government says it’s reversing course and will not proceed with planned changes to UP Express service after more than 5,200 people signed an online petition saying the changes would reduce service to two Toronto transit stations.In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Ontario Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria said on Tuesday that a plan to make every second UP Express train non-stop between Union Station and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport will not go ahead.”While the intention was to provide a faster option for people travelling between Union and Pearson, I’ve heard riders’ concerns about servicing Weston and Bloor stations along the UP Express line,” Sarkaria said in the post.”I’ve directed Metrolinx to not proceed with these changes.”The petition, on the website change.org, was addressed to Sarkaria and Ontario Premier Doug Ford. It was posted on Monday after the premier announced GO Train and UP Express service changes that were to take effect on April 28. Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Prabmeet Sarkaria attends Question Period at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)UP Express is a rail link that connects Union Station to Pearson Airport and that stops at Bloor, Weston and Pearson stations. The petition said the announced changes would mean limited stops to Bloor and Weston stations and affect residents of “underserved communities” that rely on UP Express for daily commutes to downtown Toronto.Ford spoke of the planned change as part of a larger announcement on the expansion of GO train service.”This historic expansion in GO train service will help fight gridlock on our roads, reduce travel times and allow people to spend more time at home with their families,” Ford told reporters at a news conference in Milton, Ont.According to the petition, the UP Express schedule changes would have led to “immediate” and “significant” consequences.”This change not only exacerbates existing issues of overcrowding but also threatens the convenience and reliability that drew many of us to our neighbourhoods in the first place,” the petition reads.”The changes to the UP Express schedule jeopardize the very essence of efficient and accessible public transportation for residents of underserved communities like Weston. For many of us, the UP Express is not just a mode of travel but a lifeline — a means to reach downtown Toronto swiftly and reliably.”Commuters would have been ‘stranded’: petitionThe petition predicted that overcrowding during rush hours would increase, safety concerns would intensify, and the link between Bloor and Weston neighbourhoods and downtown would reduced by 50 per cent, leaving commuters “stranded” without good alternatives.Earlier, Sarkaria told reporters in a scrum at Queen’s Park that the UP Express was “always intended” to be a connection between Union Station and the airport.”We’re seeing an increase in demand for people wanting to get to the airport,” he had said at Queen’s Park.In post on X, formerly Twitter, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow expressed relief at the reversal of plans.”This is good news for the thousands of workers and travellers who rely on regular and reliable service along this corridor,” Chow said Tuesday. “Glad to see this change in direction.”While the intention was to provide a faster option for people travelling between Union and Pearson, I’ve heard riders’ concerns about servicing Weston and Bloor stations along the UP Express line.<br> <br>I’ve directed Metrolinx to not proceed with these changes.&mdash;@PrabSarkaria

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