The Eglinton Crosstown LRT was originally proposed in 2007 and scheduled to start service in 2020. If it had proceeded as planned, we would have been able to ride a publicly owned and operated new line two years ago. Instead, we’re still waiting for the more expensive, privatized version.
Metrolinx and the Province, with the support of TTC and City Council, insisted that the line be built through a public-private partnership, or P3. This takes longer, since years were spent tendering the work and negotiating the contracting out. It also costs more, since private builders need to make a profit and face higher borrowing costs than government.
In a P3, the public pays extra in exchange for certainty on the time and cost of construction. According to the Province’s own value for money assessment the Crosstown P3 would cost $472 million more than traditional procurement.
Their argument was that the extra time and cost was worth it because the private builder took on any risk of delay or cost overrun.
How did that work out?
In 2010, when construction started it was supposed to be completed by 2020.
In 2018 and 2020, Crosslinx, the private builder, successfully sued Metrolinx, forcing them to pay $325 million due to delays caused by COVID-19, a structural defect at Eglinton Station, and technical claims.
In 2020, the opening date was pushed to 2022.
Now, the opening is delayed again – and they can’t even say how long.
And it’s not over yet. There is no projected completion date, and the budget could still go way up.
Was it worth it?
By the time it’s done private construction could be a billion dollars more than traditional, public procurement. Most of the details are being kept secret from the public. We believe the public has a right to know how our taxes are being spent.
The Confederation Line in Ottawa was built in a similar manner, and has caused a similar series of lawsuits, as well as dozens of safety complaints, difficulty operating in the snow, repeated delays, fire, odour, flooding, and derailments leading to a public inquiry.
We can’t let the same thing happen in Toronto.
The public has a right to know
ATU Local 113 is calling on the City to launch an independent inquiry into the delays and cost increases, and for our members to have a seat at the table.
We are going to have to pay to operate it, surely, we deserve to know how much it cost