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”.
I’m with plaws0. Politicians here want to be seen to be spending money on building transit, and corporations are only too happy to oblige. Actually building transit, let along building transit in a cost-effective way, isn’t the goal.
You can ask yourself why first-world, rich, champagne socialist Scandinavia builds transit several times cheaper than we do.
If we get in to an enquiry, as I think Steve is now opining about, that might be helpful. But less needed maybe, than ensuring the core doesn’t get similarly Fouled up for whatever decade-plus with a less-good megaproject for benefit of a developer/group at the Ex and maybe Portlands vs. public interest in better transit for existing communities eg. Thorncliffe and Liberty Village and pushing through something faster/better to compete with the Gardiner/Lakeshore, ahead of a bit of user-pay, like the transit.
With the recent opinion of Stephen Wickens about every other billion proposed being suspect/wa$te, if opposition parties at Queen’s Park won’t be alert enough for asking questions, what about the federal level? Will they insist upon a set of real hoops and info-sharing/honesty about costs/benefits? What about just a few millionor ten for external but open review of these plans by UITP/APTA?
Keeping It Simpler Straighter might be a really good goal right now, along with removing Metrolinx from reporting only to Cabinet.
Does anyone have any insider info on this situation? I’d love to know the nitty-gritty details of why this has become such a bloody mess. I mean if it comes down to an engineering thing i get it. Digging through dirt is hard I guess…. even when the dirt is made up of mostly light clay, and sand with few hard rocks in the way. And the bedrock is just brittle shale. But I’m sure they have their reasons. However I would be more inclined to suspect that complete incompetence is to blame and a poor organizational structure. I’ve tried to find some engineering info but I can’t.
Steve: The physical construction of the tunnels and the excavation of stations finished some time ago. Now, we are at the fit out stage within those caverns and completion of structures up to the surface. The real question here is how long has Metrolinx known – that is to say when did their contractor tell them &ndash: that they were not going to hit 2022? How long has this information been withheld for political reasons? How can we possibly trust anything Metrolinx says about their other projects?
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We need to demand transparency as they did with Ottawa LRT project. Accountability is imperative especially since the magnitude of public moneys and the magnitude of the project and how late it’s been. As a taxpayer and resident of the Eglinton corridor I’d like to know if there’s been any change in budget and timeline. In addition, the current state of the Eglinton road surface is unacceptable. With such huge delays it’s not good enough to wait to completion before resurfacing bad sections of Eglinton. It needs to be resurfaced now.
Can someone explain why the eastern section of the LRT isn’t opening on time? Kennedy Station to Aga Khan Station is above ground and seems complete – I’ve even seen test trains running on it. Why doesn’t Metrolinx open that section of it?
Steve: There is the question of regular access to the carhouse for vehicle maintenance for starters, but also that Aga Khan Station is not a natural terminus. At the very least they would have to operate to Don Mills/Science Centre for a proper bus interchange. However, this is also likely bound up in the wording for “acceptance” of the line as complete and operational that will trigger various payments. I doubt that the contract foresaw a partial opening or provided for it. Remember that this is a P3 with an extra layer of contractual complexity, and two parties that have gone to court twice before over interpretation.
One phrase says it all: Public Private Partnership. 3P/PPP’s are not cheaper, more efficient, nor are they where we should go with future transit construction. This is more of a story than the endless delays. Has anyone noticed the “efficiency” of the private sector has ended up with obscene cost overruns? 3P’s need to go away.
On TVO March 25/2021 Phil Verster said “Presto is 99 percent reliable”. Nobody said anything.
Now who’s to blame?
Steve: And your point is? BTW the segment is dated March 12, 2020 at about the 2:30 mark of the video. You might try to get your references correct.
And what does this have to do with Eglinton Crosstown, the topic of the article?
There was another tvo segment on March 25 /21 with Shelia of TTC riders. The Metrolinx CEO has made the comment a number of times. The big lie was made in the closing minutes of the interview.
Shelia I am sure can verify this if you are interested.
The point is you are dealing with pathological liars at Metrolinx and nothing can be trusted. I hope this clears things up to your satisfaction.
Steve: My issue was that I cannot find the March 25/21 program online, but was able to track down the earlier one. Of course Verster lies all the time as do many people at Metrolinx. The alternative is to assume that they simply don’t know what they’re talking about, and are therefore incompetent. Either way, they would not be missed in a thorough housecleaning.
My apologies … it was March 12/20 … I’ll take that.
The quote often repeated is “presto uses technology which is 99 percent reliability, around there and higher”.
Steve: Yes, it was March 12/20. Yes it’s a lie. Individual components might be 99 percent reliable, but the system as a whole is not.
The truth is they are extremely competent, know exactly what they doing and are totally dedicated to themselves and their company. But not to the service of the travelling public, its welfare or morale. They should be shown the same sort of respect they have shown to the dedicated public servants and passengers.
Steve: Some of the senior folks at Metrolinx simply cannot understand why people, and not just me, don’t like them. It is their arrogance and “we know what’s best” attitude, not to mention gaslighting their critics to give the impression that everybody else is onside, even their closest friends and neighbours. It is an abuse of “public participation” to behave this way and the people responsible should be dismissed as soon as possible. They won’t be, though, because only one patron, Doug Ford, counts.
The moment in 2018 when Doug Ford handed down the big budget cuts to Metrolinx and Phil Verster responded by kissing Doug’s ass should have told everybody what kind of leadership sits on top of the green throne and what kind of man he is. No doubt senior planners and advisors like Schabas return the same favour to our good ol’ Phil boy to advance their own careers and push their own agendas.
At least metrolinx is building something. TTC never gets anything done, not even keeping the current system in good shape. Years of talking, planning talking and more planning for the relieve line and nothing was built. OL will take longer as well but at least will be done.
Steve: Work on the Relief Line South (Danforth to downtown) was well underway by the City, and Metrolinx was supposed to be working on the section north to Eglinton. Instead it is quite clear that they had their own agenda and after much foot-dragging, Metrolinx and Ford came out with the Ontario Line proposal. The single biggest problem has been funding. Doug For suddenly found $28 billion to spend on major new projects, although a lot of the actual cash flow does not occur for several years because of how the projects are structured with financing by the P3 consortia.