03/18/2016 09:38 EDT | Updated 03/19/2017 01:12 EDT

Union Pearson Express ridership jumps after fare cut

A recent chop in fares is boosting ridership on Toronto's airport train, the Union-Pearson Express (UPX). 

Numbers provided to CBC by Metrolinx — the regional transit agency that operates the train — show that more than 5,300 riders used UPX on Wednesday, March 9, the first day the new fares came into effect. 

Metrolinx says 83 per cent of riders who used the train on March 9 were travelling between Union Station and Pearson Airport while 17 per cent used UPX to travel between Union, Bloor and Weston stations.

Also, more than 40 per cent of riders were taking the train for the first time. 

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said ridership has "continued to be busy all week."

"We are very happy to see many trains full," she said in an email to CBC. "We are working hard to maintain and continue to increase ridership."

In the months since the train started service last June, daily ridership has languished in the 2,400 range. 

Low ridership prompted fare cut

Facing criticism the $456 million train was a "white elephant" running half-empty trains, the Ontario government announced in February that fares would be cut in a bid to raise ridership. 

Instead of $27.50 per one-way ride ($19 with a Presto fare card), UPX fares fell to $12 ($9 with Presto). 

Metrolinx has said it wants daily ridership to reach an average of 5,000 daily riders before the train reaches its one-year anniversary in June.

Metrolinx offered free rides during the Family Day weekend in February to make more potential passengers familiar with the service. Thousands lined up, some for up to three hours, to try out the train.

The UPX provides a 25-minute trip between Union Station and Pearson airport with stops at Bloor West and Weston. 

Trains depart every 15 minutes between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.