Toronto’s Airport Connections are on the Up and “Up”

September 28th, 2015

On a recent trip to Toronto, Metro planner discovers a new rail link.

I flew up to Toronto in July of this year for a fun weekend trip, flying into Pearson Airport.  I’ve traveled up there a few times in the past year and try to take transit between the airport and downtown when schedules allow.  Each time, I check transit schedules via Google Maps to determine whether or not transit from the airport makes sense to me.  This most recent time, I discovered something odd:  a new transit connection from the airport I hadn’t seen before, simply labeled “UP“.  Curious, I googled it and discovered that a new rail transit link had just opened between Pearson Airport and downtown Toronto’s Union Station, with two stops in between.  Being a transit nerd, I had to check it out.

The new UP train operates between Toronto's Union Station and Pearson Airport.

The new UP train operates between Toronto’s Union Station and Pearson Airport.

In general, it was a pretty seamless experience. I followed signs in the airport to the train terminal without much confusion.  There I was directed to a ticket vending machine where I purchased my fare.  At over C$20, it’s much more expensive than the subway/bus combo (C$3.00) but cheaper than a cab.   It turns out to be much cheaper using the greater Toronto-area transit card, “Presto” but I didn’t see any way to purchase a Presto card at the station.  (Yes, I’m aware that you can’t buy SmarTrip cards at Dulles or BWI. I’m working on that.)


Seating on the UP Express, including seat-back tray tables and plenty of hand-holds for standing customers.

I boarded the train and looked around.  It had a sort of “new train smell” to accompany its new train look.  There were audio announcements, luggage racks, video screens showing station locations, tray tables and even an “in-flight magazine” and power outlets.   If I didn’t know better, I would have guessed I’d just boarded another airplane and not a train.  I love that they invested in all these amenities to help compete with the convenience of traveling via taxi or Uber.

Fare validation was performed by a conductor who scanned my paper ticket with a hand-held device. The same device would validate boarding using a Presto card.


Digital display, route “strip map” and luggage racks on the UP.

The ride was quick from the airport to the Bloor Station where I disembarked.  There, I noted an option to pay by Presto, but still no indication of where to buy a Presto card.


Pay for your UP Express trip using Presto and get a huge discount. Presto card not included.

The new UP Express train is a great new option to get between Pearson Airport and downtown Toronto.  It’s always faster than taking the TTC subway/bus combination, and cost competitive with taxi/Uber.    Have you taken the UP?  What do you think?

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  1. slg
    September 28th, 2015 at 10:19 | #1

    Currently, the Presto card purchasing counter at Pearson is located at the absolute far end of the UP station, as you’re entering it from the airport itself. The signage for it is next to nonexistent, but if you walk all the way to the other end of the station, you’ll find a manned desk where the card can be purchased. Once you get to Union Station, you can top up the Presto card for however many journeys you might need in Toronto itself.

    The important difference with Presto on the UP Express is that you have to tap in before you get on the train and tap out as you exit. In the TTC subway stations, you only have to tap in when you go through the turnstiles.

  2. Rider
    September 29th, 2015 at 20:25 | #2

    Nice that you can get a cheap (2.23 USD) or a convenient one-seat ride from the airport to the city.

    If WMATA has its way and kills the 5A, riders will pay at least double that for a one-transfer ride (Fairfax Connector to Metrorail).

    BTW, in case you haven’t heard, there are some issues on the OR/BL/SV lines.

  3. Mr. Transit
    September 30th, 2015 at 09:32 | #3

    Dear Rider,

    The fare from anywhere in the WMATA rail system to Dulles Airport via the Silver line and the Fairfax Connector is $7.15. That’s composed of a $5.90 maximum fare on rail and $1.25 charge for the Fairfax Connector taking advantage of the rail-to-bus fare discount of $0.50.

    Does the region want to subsidize 3 money-losing transit services to Dulles Airport rather than two? The Silver line options provide more frequent service at about the same cost as the 5A.

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