It has been a long time coming for Toronto to finally get some mode of transportation that can easily and inexpensively get you to the airport, that’s why I was so excited when the development of UP Express was first announced, and even more excited when it was actually built before the Pan-Am games like they promised (very rare for Toronto construction).
For those of you that don’t know, the Toronto Pearson International Airport is actually located in Mississauga, not Toronto. Mississauga is located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or otherwise, outside of the city itself, so getting to the city centre from the airport or back, can be annoying, inconvenient and expensive. Public transit can take you for only $3 CDN but, you have to often take multiple buses, streetcars or subways to get to your location, which can be confusing for foreigners, and other than that, your other option is a taxi which cost around $50-$60 CDN one way. So as you can tell, Toronto was long overdue for the UP Express train.
I had my first experience with UP Express before I headed to Milwaukee, I had to be at the airport bright and early, so even though I am a public transit user and would usually opt for that cheap alternative, I didn’t feel safe taking transit that early in the morning, and didn’t want to have to leave even earlier. So I jumped in an Uber to Union Station, downtown Toronto, and decided to test out the new UP Express.
Finding UP Express
The UP Express has multiple stations that you can board (or get off) the train—Union Station, Bloor, Weston, Pearson Airport. The most popular get on and get off point being Union Station, as that is the station that is located directly in the city centre of downtown Toronto.
When you enter Union Station it’s important to keep in mind that this station is home to GO Transit, VIA Rail and UP Express, so don’t just hop on the first train you see, entering the station you should follow the signs to UP Express. The signs aren’t super big and noticeable now, but I believe they are working on upgrading this to make it even easier to find. As you follow the signs you’ll be led directly to the train platform and station.
Tickets can be purchased directly on the train, so if there is a train there, and you don’t have a ticket, don’t hesitate to just hop right on. Once you are seated, someone will come around with a credit machine for you to purchase a ticket. Note that by buying your ticket on-board you will be charged an additional $2 CDN. You can also purchase tickets online or at any of the ticket vending machines on site. Regular adult tickets costs $27.50 CDN one-way or $53.00 CDN return (senior, student, child and family prices available too). UPDATE: Prices have now been cut in half to encourage more people to use the train. You can now travel for $9 CDN as an adult (one-way).
If you have a Presto card, which can be purchased by anyone at any of the UP Express stations at the service counter for only $6 CDN, you’ll get a discounted rate every time you ride UP Express. This is a great option if you plan on riding it more than once for a one time visit. Just like the GO Transit in Toronto, all you do is tap your Presto card (provided it’s already pre-loaded with money) on the Presto machine that are located everywhere around the platforms when you get on, then tap on a machine when you get off. You will save close to $9 CDN on a one-way adult ticket by using your Presto card.
For full fare information and prices click here.
Riding the UP Express
My experience on the UP Express was great! The trains were modern and new, and had lots of space for luggage or bags. There are luggage racks by the doors for you to leave your bigger bags and the aisles are a great width so you’re not awkwardly trying to fit your massive bags through it. Each seat is equipped with a tray table in the front and an outlet to charge up your electronics. The chairs were comfy, and the windows were big so you could watch the city go by (well to be honest, the view isn’t very inspiring).
In around 25 minutes I was at the Pearson Airport, not having to worry about traffic, taxis, parking, or anything. It was great! The train drops you off right in terminal 1 and there is an available shuttle if you need to get to terminal 3. Stations are open from 5am-2 am and trains come every 15 minutes. The first train leaves from Union at 5:30 am and from Pearson at 5:27 am and last train leaves Union at 1:00 am and last train leaves Pearson Station at 12:57 am. With the flexible hours, it gives you the ability to ride the train during almost any hour.
Overall my experience on UP Express was great. This was something that was long overdue in Toronto, and I’m so happy that this makes travel even easier for me as a local, but most importantly tourists that are coming to visit our amazing city!
Shout-out to UP Express for providing me with some of the above awesome pics! I was way too tired the morning I took their train to snap pics.