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'We are not there yet': Metrolinx CEO still unable to provide opening date for Eglinton Crosstown

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The CEO of Metrolinx said Thursday that he still can’t provide a date for the opening of the long-awaited Eglinton Crosstown LRT, although the transit agency plans to give the public a heads up three months in advance.

Phil Verster, the head of the provincial transit agency, has committed to holding updates on the project every two months and on Thursday, he confirmed that an opening date for the beleaguered line has not been finalized.

“We are not there yet,” he told the Metrolinx Board of Directors on Thursday. “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.”

During the last update at the end of September, Verster told reporters that new problems on the line were being discovered weekly.

At the time, he said Metrolinx had “a really good idea” of when the line will open, although he would not confirm an opening date in 2024.

“We all have a sense of urgency and commitment to open the railway… in a way that operates safely and reliably,” Verster said Thursday.

Construction began on the transit project in the summer of 2011 and it was originally supposed to open in 2020.

"Out of Service" signs are shown on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in Toronto on Friday, May 5, 2023. The Eglinton Crosstown LRT has been under construction for 10 years and includes a “Science Centre” stop that would increase transit accessibility to the attraction. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

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.

Verster said Thursday that early next month, journalists will be invited to the new Yonge Station, at Yonge and Eglinton, where the “final pieces of construction are now nearing completion.”

“This will be a walk-through with first-hand visibility, first-hand Q&A about the five work streams that will fix the uncertainties and that will get us to opening day,” Verster said.

Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles called the delays “disrespectful.”

“That’s just deeply unacceptable to all of the people who are going to be relying on it and have been waiting for years now for this to open,” she said.

“I think it is disrespectful to the people of Ontario who are paying his (Verster’s) million-dollar salary. And I expect the minister of transportation, the premier in this province to hold him to account.”

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow has previously expressed frustration over the delays in opening the line.

“It's just unbearable. Ten years later, you still can't tell us when you can open it up,” Chow said after the September update.

“Toronto riders deserve fast, reliable public transit and Eglinton LRT needs to be open. So it's really disappointing.”  

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