The President and CEO of Metrolinx has teased a forthcoming announcement regarding a new opening date for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

During an unrelated press conference on Thursday, Phil Verster said the crown agency hopes to reveal a new target timeframe for when the long-delayed transit line will open within the next month.

"We’ve had excellent progress in many aspects of the Eglinton Crosstown…There has been a huge amount of work to figure out what a credible schedule looks like," Verster told reporters. "As we get closer to the end of the summer, we’ll be announcing what we think is the range of dates when we’ll have [the LRT] in service."

Verster rationalized a range rather than a firm opening date as the transit project is currently in a "testing and commissioning phase," during which technical issues are found and fixed.

One such problem, which Verster noted he was "very concerned about," was the condition of the tracks; trains were not running as smoothly as they should, and there was even a derailment. However, the issue has now been "remedied to our satisfaction," although there are still some long-term fixes that must be implemented.

Pointing to the 2021 derailment of an LRT in Ottawa, Stan Cho, the Associate Minister of Transportation, said the priority is making sure the Eglinton Crosstown is safe to operate.

"People have suffered long enough waiting for this Crosstown to be completed," Cho said, noting that construction is now 98% complete. "We’re going to open when it’s safe to do so."

Vester said there has been "excellent progress" in other aspects of the Eglinton Crosstown, including the procurement of a trainer who will teach the operating crews, which puts the project on the “critical path” to completion.

"Huge progress, [we are] keen to give you, by the end of the summer, a clear indication of when that Line 5 would be in service," Verster said. "To say it’s going to be a game changer for Toronto, I’ll be very excited about that."

Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown began in 2011, and the transit line was initially expected to open in 2020. The $5.5B project has faced numerous delays, including supply chain issues, "unpredictable defects," and legal battles between Metrolinx and the construction consortium established to maintain and deliver the 19-km rapid transit line.

When it opens, the 25-station Eglinton Crosstown LRT will stretch from Kennedy in the east to Mount Dennis in the west, linking 54 bus routes, three subway stations, and three GO Transit lines.