AU ABROAD

Travel News: The long awaited Union Pearson Express arrives at Toronto International Airport

Much like Melbourne, for a city with one of the best public transport systems in the world, the airport seems to have been neglected over the years in Toronto, Canada. In the past, to get downtown from the airport it took a bus, a couple of trains and roughly over an hour to get to your final destination. The cost was only CA$3 and it was a relatively painless experience, but when the only other option is a $60+ taxi, it feels like more options should have been on offer. Hell, even Melbourne has an express bus service.

Thankfully, after some four years of construction, the launch of a new express train service called the Union Pearson Express has changed all this, taking you direct from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Union Station in downtown Toronto - the city's two largest transportation hubs - in about 25 minutes. The train runs every 15 minutes for about 20 hours of the day and features free on board wi-fi, plenty of luggage room and comfortable waiting areas on either end of the trip. The train also stops at Weston and Bloor along the route.

With some 2.35 million riders expected over each 12 month period by 2018, UP Express also anticipates to take 1.2 million cars off the route, which is nothing but a good thing for the congested region... not to mention for the environment.

One modern feature of convenience that seems to be missing from the express service, however, is the sort of baggage drop service they feature in cities like Hong Kong, where guests are able to check into their flight at the train station, dropping their bags off before they head to the airport. It's certainly something you can guarantee they're looking into for a long term plan. But in every other respect, it's set to bring ease and convenience the city has long needed.

The only real downside is the cost, which puts it among the most expensive in the world. At CA$27.50 a person (about AU$29), it doesn't compete well with the taxi service, which split between a couple would cost roughly the same. There are, however, discounts available based on age (students, seniors etc.) - and Presto card holders will receive a discounted rate of $19 - which is great for locals. Meanwhile, those who can't afford the expensive express service will still be able to catch the 192 express bus service to the nearest existing train station. It's a longer and less convenient route - but it does only cost CA$3, and having done it recently, it's a totally doable option. Route 40 also runs hourly between Richmond Hill Centre and Pearson.

We'll be testing out the service later in the year. For more details in the interim, head to: https://www.upexpress.com/