Eglinton Crosstown Delayed (Again)

In what must be the most anti-climactic news on the planet, Phil Verster, Metrolinx President and CEO, has announced that the Eglinton Crosstown Line 5 will not open as planned. I will let Metrolinx speak for themselves.

Statement regarding the Eglinton Crosstown LRT

Sept. 23, 2022

Today, Metrolinx President & CEO Phil Verster issued the following statement:

We had expected the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to be fully built, thoroughly tested, and in service this fall in accordance with our project agreement with Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the construction consortium responsible for building the project.

Unfortunately, while progress has been made, Crosslinx Transit Solutions have fallen behind schedule, are unable to finalize construction and testing, and therefore the system will not be operational on this timeline.

We know construction has been difficult for commuters, communities, and businesses along the Eglinton corridor. We are doing everything to hold Crosslinx Transit Solutions accountable and to redouble efforts to meet their commitments and complete the work quickly so we can welcome riders onto a complete, tested, and fully operational Eglinton Crosstown LRT as soon as possible.

Source: Metrolinx Blog

Anyone who has followed the construction project, to the degree it is visible at street level, would have trouble believing the line would be ready in 2022. Only a week ago, the project’s Twitter account announced that they had just finished structural steel at Eglinton Station. This is nowhere near the same as putting the last touch of paint on a building.

The TTC budgeted for a first quarter 2023 startup with training in advance, but that date sounds iffy considering Verster made no mention of a handover date from the builder, let along commissioning and opening the line.

If only Metrolinx were less secretive, less inclined to give us only “good news”, there would be more trust in their breathless announcements for all projects, not just Eglinton.

The key question, however, is not “when will it open”, but “how long has Metrolinx known”.

29 thoughts on “Eglinton Crosstown Delayed (Again)

  1. Once construction is complete, how much time is required for testing and commissioning the line?

    Steve: That depends on what is left to do. Obviously they have been running trains for months, but there will be an acceptance process by Metrolinx for structures as well as operating systems. The last time we went through this issue, the story was two or three months.


  2. Can we get a list of the stations that are ready for use? A list of stations that will likely be ready in how many months?

    The tunnels are ready. The surface sections are ready.

    Steve: I invite you to write to Metrolinx Media Relations who I am sure will be happy to answer your questions.


  3. Do you know what percentage is TTC ridership levels is in the past few weeks compared to pre pandemic on weekdays and weekends?

    Steve: No. The most recent published figures are for July, and they do not break down by time of the week. Also, the situation varies a lot by route and area in the city, so overall averages will hide key info.


  4. About a year ago, in 2021, I was predicting Line 5 would open 1st quarter of 2023…….. Now, with virtually no progress being made, I’m going to re-adjust my prediction to 2nd quarter 2024?


  5. At least they won’t make the mistake Ottawa did when they opened the LRT prematurely. That got…embarrassing.

    Steve: I hope not. But one never knows what pressure there might be to do a partial opening without completing the acceptance process. That could void their ability to claim for defects later.


  6. Re: Metrolinx answering questions. In that regard my own experience is that they talk alot but say little. BBG: Bureaucratic Bafflegab.


  7. Steve: In what must be the most anti-climactic news on the planet, Phil Verster, Metrolinx President and CEO, has announced that the Eglinton Crosstown Line 5 will not open as planned.

    Oh please, we have wars, famines, and so many other tragedies going on as we speak but you think that the whole planet cares about this petty little line running through some obscure city called Toronto? You are very self-centred.

    Steve: I said “anti-climactic”. Those tragedies certainly do not fit that term. You are taking umbrage where none is to be had. I suggest that you buy a dictionary.


  8. I follow your blog on daily bases and it is interesting to find some time no new articles about what metrolinx plans are or when something is progressing. No mention. However any delay or bad news is commented on the same day.

    Steve: Metrolinx does a very good job publicising the work they are doing in many places, and I don’t have to duplicate that. Indeed, I do not have the resources to visit the far corners of the GTHA to see whether they dug something up recently. My focus is on policy within Toronto, the biggest part of the region from a transit demand viewpoint. Metrolinx conducts far too much of their policy discussions behind closed doors. It’s not my job to act as their media machine.

    If you want that, there are other transit bloggers who are more than happy to regurgitate Metrolinx press releases. Go read/listen to them if you are pining for more Metrolinx news.

    The delay of Eglinton is a major embarrassment, and is symptomatic of problems with how Metrolinx has structured contracts. The provincial Auditor General had some very unkind words about this a few years ago.

    I have tried to get detailed info on some Metrolinx plans so that I could write them up for my readers, but Metrolinx refuses to release anything.


  9. At least it was in the 1957 plan, and of course, underway a couple of decades ago. Too bad built a bit too narrow I’ve heard for easy upgrade of technology to a subway loading, oops. I’m sure Steve and others know far more about that…


  10. The difference between “structural steel” and “structural steel for the main entrance” is pretty big. Installing glass panels and electrical isn’t going to take more than three months. Especially after similar installs elsewhere.

    The real issues are elsewhere, and I want to believe you know that…

    Steve: I presented that more as a symptom. They touted the Yonge-Eglinton entrance, a station which is on the critical path, at a time they must have known the announcement of delay was coming.


  11. “The Eglinton Crosstown LRT will be delayed by about a year, a source with knowledge of the project has told CBC Toronto.

    “The 19-kilometre light rapid transit line was to be up and running by the end of this year.”

    Source: CBC

    Steve: Something Metrolinx badly owes everyone is a breakdown of project status. For example, at each station when will work be at a state where the surface roadway and sidewalks be restored so that it will be “business as usual” even if the line has not opened? How long do construction access shafts have to be kept open at each site? This is really basic stuff, and they should be able to provide it to give businesses and residents a sense of how much longer their neighbourhoods will be in upheaval. Much below-grade work should be able continue with materials shipped in via work train.

    I get the impression that nobody has been thinking about a “Plan B” because the political imperative was to pretend we didn’t need one.


  12. I made a joke a while ago about the finch LRT opening first. The fact that they are now slated to be opening around the same time makes me think I might have actually been on correct.


  13. That criminal Phil Verster is the one who should be held accountable. Don’t let him convince you otherwise.

    Steve: “Criminal” is an excessive word, but “arrogant” and “dismissive of criticism” would certainly fit the bill.


  14. I find it interesting that the two major critical attacks on Steve’s post, attacks that sound like “how dare anybody criticize anything Metrolinks does” (which in itself sound like “paid trolling”) were time stamped at the same time. Two different names, but the same writing style. Hmmm….

    Steve: Metrolinx is a very thin-skinned organization. It is a matter of record that they have used “social influencers” in the past, but how they could expect to have any effect posting here I don’t know. After all, if I am such an unimportant person 😉 why post on my blog?

    FWIW the posts came from two quite different IP addresses, one on Bell and one on Rogers, so probably two different people, albeit with a similar intent.


  15. Perhaps the Minister of Transportation could do her job and terminate the senior management at Metrolinx. She’s got to be one of the most useless ministers in Canadian history – and we’ve had a few.


  16. The CBC piece had a quote from Mr. Tory:

    “…the more than a decade of construction has been absolutely brutal for residents, businesses, and commuters along Eglinton Avenue right across our city,” Tory said in the statement.”

    And so is Mr.Tory and others saying too much about the likely worse and more extensive mess in the core from the proposed Ontario Line? This is not good enough, nor is the project, as I don’t see why it can’t do a straight line on either King or Adelaide, and not be nearly so deep in to bedrock nor at all, and neither Ontario Place nor the Ex really need the full subway service as much as going much further west through old core, ideally out through the pinch point at the base of High Park to offer an option to the Gardiner/Lakeshore.

    More mis-everything by suburban rulers.


  17. I have heard no shortage of political blather about how the new models of “P3” (public/private partnership) would bring accountability and consequences to late deliveries. Thereby providing strong incentives to the private sector to not build things late.

    As far as I have been able to determine, in actual practice for the Eglinton Crosstown, that “accountability” was nothing but a load of bovine effluent. Certainly a lot of money was transferred to the private sector, corruptly enriching the usual political cronies. But accountability and responsibility? Not so much.

    So I am going to put the “P3” business model into the same category as all the dubious new technologies inflicted upon Toronto transit. P3 was hyped to the skies by politicians as solving all problems, but turned out to be a failure in actual practice. Whether it is dubious new technologies or dubious new business models, it is time for Toronto to stop being the guinea pig for the latest new thing that turns out to be a failure.

    Steve: Years ago, I was at a presentation by folks from London, UK, who were just starting to work on what we now know as the Oyster card. They talked about managing private contractors, and how it was essential that a contractor know without any doubt that the government would hold them to the contract and invoke penalties.

    In another case, again London, there was a consortium who had an operations/maintenance agreement, and they defaulted, eating half a billion UK pounds in penalties, because it was cheaper than honouring the contract. Bombardier was part of the consortium.

    The whole idea of risk transfer is meaningless if the public sector is not willing to force contractors to do what they agreed. Obviously writing tight contracts is essential, and bidders do not like contracts they know are air-tight on that score. The TTC was not exactly popular going after some companies for non-performance on the TYSSE.

    On the new streetcar order, recall that Bombardier was so late that they burned through all of the liquidated damages provisions in the contract. Sure, we could increase the scope for damages, in effect telling bidders that we don’t believe a word they say, but bid prices will go up accordingly. The same applies to warranties which are paid for in the contract price. In both cases, the parties are betting that they will be on the “winning” side of any problems.

    In the case of a big P3 like Crosstown, sure, Metrolinx could force the contractor to default, but they would still have a lien on the unfinished work, and Metrolinx would not be able to just hand the half-finished line to someone else who would take a big risk assuming a project that they did not design or build. It’s a catch-22. The real question is what this would mean for the credibility of consortium members’ bids on future projects.


  18. It’s a Design-build, not DBOM, right? So once the line is delivered, the skimming company takes their money and runs, yes?

    It seems like this is another nail in the coffin of this type of arrangement since a private, for-profit company is no better at herding the cats to get the service running than the province (d/b/a Metrolinx) or the city (d/b/a TTC).

    But it will be hailed as a triumph of PPP regardless since that’s what people of that ilk do.

    Steve: No it is a DBOM, although part of the “O” is subcontracted to the TTC for at least 10 years.


  19. I remember in ~2013 when many people (me) wanted a south side alignment through Leslie and an elevated portion through Scarborough – and said all this could be redesigned because the Yonge-Eglinton station was the critical path.

    I also remember Metrolinx saying the LRT Portal was not possible on the west rim of the Don Valley (where it currently is) and they had to tunnel under the West Don all the way to Don Mills.

    So Yonge-Eg taking too long and Metrolinx lying and hiding info are not that much of a surprise.

    Steve: Whoever said they had to tunnel under the Don was full of crap. The line had always been intended to run at grade east of Brentcliffe. As for Eglinton East, I’m not sure an el would have exactly endeared the project to the neighbourhoods as much as using the full width of the right-of-way. It has been particularly bad during construction with long periods of, effectively, single lane operation. An el would almost certainly have reduced the number of stations and increased their physical presence when you take into account vertical access.


  20. Supposedly they have learned something about big projects. Or, so they have said. The project is so massive it has resulted in many problems and delays. For the future (Ontarion Line?) they intend to break it up into several smaller projects.

    One benefit of that would be more outfits and people to blame for a screwup.


  21. Yes Canadian know how at its best. Bring in engineers from Taiwan for the next project? They just get things done. Smart people. Otherwise expect more bungling, delays and cost-over runs for the two subway expansion projects. Absolutely guaranteed.


  22. Quoting Aidan: I made a joke a while ago about the finch LRT opening first. The fact that they are now slated to be opening around the same time makes me think I might have actually been on correct.

    So I am a former Torontonian now living in Edmonton. We’re going through a similar experience with our Valley Line LRT. It’s been constantly delayed, for myriad reasons, the most recent of which is cracks in the concrete pillars holding up an elevated section.

    Anyway, I too have made a similar crack to Aidan: which will open first, the Valley Line or Eglinton? For a long time I kept saying Eglinton. It looks like I’ll be wrong.

    What is it with this country and long-delayed transit projects? I understand delays happen, but this is getting ridiculous.


  23. Steve Munro, just shut up. Now you resort to name calling.

    How do you like it if someone called you a flaming idiot.

    Steve: I have been called far worse.

    For the benefit of readers, this refers to a tweet in which I slagged an operator who blew past three riders waiting at a stop outside Broadview Station. After a siesta at the station including a chat with other operators, the car in question whisked out of the loop and left three of us standing in the street as the car rolled by. “idiot” was a substitute term when Twitter wouldn’t let me use something earthier. This is not the first time this has happened. TTC complaint procedures produce no results.

    I at least use my real name.


  24. I think it’s a little rich for Metrolinx to show concern for the communities and businesses along Eglinton when they never showed any concern for them before. Stealing money from the fund to support Eglinton businesses and using it to subsidize construction costs even more really shows where their heart is. They only care about themselves. I think we must have imported leaders and PR hacks from the Boris Johnston school of government, where instead of actually doing the hard work of supporting the people, they just try to gaslight people into thinking they did.

    And John Tory is just blindly going along with it. Doesn’t he know they’re going to do the same thing for the Ontario Line? Queen Street, one of the most interesting streets in Canada, won’t even exist any more after Metrolinx destroys it. Toronto Downtown will be set back several decades. Eatons Centre will be gone. Financial district will be gone. Arts venues? Gone. What’s the point of downtown if no one can get there? Like, I understand that Doug Ford hates Toronto and downtown especially, but John Tory is supposed to fight for it. Instead of phasing construction in such a way that downtown can survive, Metrolinx will just block up all of downtown for a decade, utterly destroying it and hollowing it out. If John Tory is too old to perform his mayor duties and stick up for the city, he should bow out of the race.


  25. ToTheSlapster: A flaming idiot is an ex TTC driver who successfully avoided picking up riders until he lost his job in the resulting cutbacks.


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