When the time comes to choose between UPX and Uber X, I will choose Uber X every time.
(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
The Wynne government’s new Union Pearson Express (UPX) train is a typical government project.
It was incredibly expensive, went over budget when you take into account all the bells and whistles, and the province and city are still fighting over who should pay what costs.
Plus, the UPX defies common sense.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s half-billion-dollar project was supposed to make traveling from downtown Toronto to Pearson Airport easier and more affordable.
Unfortunately, it does neither.
A one-way ticket on the Pearson train will set you back $27.50 per person or $55 for a couple. Not coincidentally, $55 is also the regulated flat rate fare for taxis traveling from downtown to Pearson.
For UPX to be successful, Wynne is expecting people to lug their suitcases to the nearest TTC stop, travel across the city on a rickety streetcar — possibly in the wrong direction — get to Union Station and then transfer and board another train to the airport. Once you get to the airport, you may have to take yet another train to get to your terminal.
A commuter living in Leslieville, for example, and flying West Jet would need to take four different trains. Four!
That is the Wynne government’s solution. A multi-step process that will have you carrying luggage, waiting in queue, possibly traveling in the wrong direction, paying more, wasting tax dollars and, given the TTC’s track record, possibly missing your flight.
Let’s compare the government solution to the private sector one.
Uber, the ride-sharing app and taxi tech start up, now offers its Uber X service in Toronto.
For $35, a clean car and a friendly driver will show up to your door and take you to the airport. That’s $17.50 each for two people and 36% cheaper than the UPX train.
Further, when you ride with Uber, you are supporting small business entrepreneurs, since Uber drivers work for themselves.
They own their own vehicles, set their own hours, and get to keep a larger portion of the fare than traditional taxi companies.
The service will only get better if more of these new ride-sharing companies are able to expand to Toronto.
The prices will go down and the service will improve.
Look at what is happening in San Francisco, where ride-sharing companies operate without much hassle from busybody bureaucrats.
Uber competes with Lyft and Sidecar, and in its efforts to get more users and more business, offers amazing deals.
You can get anywhere in the city’s core for only $5.
These apps also make commuting a more social experience.
I’ve met people from Japan to Afghanistan riding in the back of ride-sharing cars, but I can’t think of the last time I’ve struck up a conversation with someone on the TTC.
I am usually too busy getting an elbow in the back and worrying I will miss my appointment because the streetcar is running late.
That’s the problem with one-size-fits-all government solutions.
Rather than embracing exciting tech innovations and empowering local entrepreneurs, the Ontario Liberals are more interested in facilitating international business travellers.
The Wynne Liberals want us to go through an iron man competition with our luggage and take an overpriced train ride, rather than get in a comfortable car driven by a friendly entrepreneur. Not me. When the time comes to choose between UPX and Uber X, I will choose Uber X every time.