Outgoing Metrolinx CEO talks Bombardier delays, Presto gripes and politics

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Outgoing Metrolinx CEO talks Bombardier delays, Presto gripes and politics

After nearly seven years at the head of transit development and planning in the GTA, Metrolinx President and CEO Bruce McCuaig is leaving the transit authority next month to join the federal government's new infrastructure bank.

McCuaig has been at the helm as the agency undertook a legal battle to end its contract with Bombardier for the delivery of vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown.

McCuaig said Metrolinx could face penalties of up to $500,000 per day if the vehicles aren't delivered on time. He said the supplier is still on track. 

Presto challenges

In addition to the Eglinton Crosstown, McCuaig has faced pushback for the technical glitches that came with the  introduction of the Presto payment system. 

"We knew there were going to be issues ... there's always issues," said the outgoing CEO when talking about the staggered rollout of the system.

He promises that over the course of this year, the machines will reach a 99 per cent reliability figure. 

McCuaig said Metrolinx is working closely with the TTC in dealing with fare losses but didn't directly address if they will compensate them for lost fares. 

However, according to McCuaig, Presto has brought in around 10,000 new customers each week.  

The decision makers 

Despite recommendations and promises made by Metrolinx, McCuaig said at the end of the day, the decision makers are the politicians. 

"In the end it's a recommendation. It's boards, it's councils, it's cabinets, it's governments who then have to make the final decision." 

McCuaig said that business cases are prepared as a matter of routine which goes into the advice Metrolinx gives to the decision makers.

According to him this is something that's never been done in Canada or even North America. 

"We've made huge strides in this region to get to evidence-based decision making."

As for whether McCuaig thinks he'd do anything differently, he said no, but hopes that Metrolinx will continue on the path to meeting its promises.