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Keep Union-Pearson rail link affordable, councillors urge Metrolinx

A construction site for the Air Rail Link between Pearson International Airport and Union Station is shown in Mississauga on Sept. 17, 2012.

DEBORAH BAIC/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Toronto councillors are urging the province's transit body to ensure rates for the new Union Station to Pearson Airport express train are kept affordable.

Toronto city council sits down for its last session next week, and included in the agenda will be two separate motions looking at the affordability of Metrolinx's Union Station to Pearson Airport express line, which is set to open in time for the Pan Am Games in July, 2015.

Metrolinx has yet to announce what the actual fares will be for the new train, though media reports and the councillor's motions estimate that the rates will be between $20 to $30.

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Anne Marie Aikins, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, Told the Globe Thursday that those numbers are "pure speculation."

"Although there has been lots of speculation, our fare pricing strategy will not be released until later this year," she said in a statement. "We are expecting our strategy to include variable price points for families, children and frequent users. Pricing will also model fare by distance (like GO currently uses) for passengers getting on at Bloor or Weston."

But councillors hope to pre-empt that announcement by having the city put in a request to Metrolinx on what that fare should be.

Councillor Frances Nunziata's motion asks council to request Metrolinx to set fares for the new train at "rates comparable to GO Transit fares."

"Now is the time to reiterate the position previously held by City Council that the UP Express can and should serve citizens of Toronto in a way that is both accessible and affordable," Ms. Nunziata's motion says.

"By setting the fare at an amount of $20-$30, many residents of Toronto will not be able to afford this new connection to downtown Toronto and to the airport."

Councillor Josh Matlow, meanwhile, has submitted a duelling motion, simply asking for a rate "that is affordable for most Torontonians and competitive with other forms of transportation to Pearson Airport."

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A trip from downtown Toronto to Pearson Airport currently costs about $55 by cab. The private Airport Express bus, which runs front downtown hotels to the airport, is $27.95, but will end service at the end of October. The TTC also runs several routes to Pearson airport, which cost the price of a normal $3 fare.

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National Food Reporter

Ann Hui is the national food reporter at The Globe and Mail. Previously, she worked as a national reporter and homepage editor for theglobeandmail.com and an online editor in News. More

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