Metrolinx CEO apologizes for Eglinton Crosstown delays, says still no date set to open LRT
Published Friday, December 8, 2023 8:35AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 8, 2023 10:55AM EST
The CEO of Metrolinx remained tight-lipped about a possible opening date for the beleaguered Eglinton Crosstown LRT, apologizing to the community for the repeated delays on the project.
Speaking to reporters during a progress update on the project on Friday, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said it would not be “sensible” or “responsible” to provide a date at this time.
“I want to say, unambiguously, I apologize. I apologize to the businesses, to the communities, to the people of Toronto for the fact that this project is late,” Verster said.
“This project had technical issues on it long before any of us joined the project. It was affected by COVID. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is the project is late. And we are totally dedicated and totally focused on completing the project as soon as possible.”
On Friday, members of the media were invited to tour Yonge Station, where the “final pieces of construction are now nearing completion," Metrolinx said.
During the tour, engineers referred to certain testing that cannot be done when snow is on the ground, suggesting that the project is still several months away from being completed.
During Friday's news conference, Verster was pressed on why the transit agency is unwilling to provide a ballpark idea of when the project will be finished or even rule out an opening date in early 2024.
"We are not going to be drawn in on a date. We are not going to guess which year it is," he said.
“I cannot see that it is sensible or responsible to declare an opening date now. But I give you and the communities an absolute commitment that once we get through the risks, defects, issues, that we are seeing, finding and fixing, that we will declare a date.”
Last month, Verster made similar comments to Metrolinx’s board of directors.
“We are not there yet,” he said on Nov. 30. “We are making sure everything was built right and operates correctly and safely. And our contractor CTS is finding issues that must be fixed before we can open.”
Construction began on the transit project in the summer of 2011 and it was originally supposed to open in 2020.
When Metrolinx failed to meet that target date, officials indicated that the project would be substantially complete in 2022, but CTS– the consortium building the line – missed that deadline as well.
While Verster has not committed to a date for opening the LRT, he has said Metrolinx will release that information three months in advance.
"When we feel the risks are contained enough, and we can declare an opening date, we will do so," he said Friday.
Verster said new problems are regularly being identified, although a considerable amount of progress has been made over the past year.
"We are going to work through the issues," he said.
"The software upgrades that we need to implement, they need to be compressive and need to give us that assurance of safe, reliable operation."