Transit conversations in an age of physical distancing – How virtual dialogue is becoming key to feedback for Metrolinx, and where you go to be heard

While there may be a distance between everyone these days, it doesn’t mean conversations stop. They just have to change platforms. We break down where to go to have important conversations about Metrolinx projects.

You have things to say about the future, including transit.

And we have a responsibility to listen and take that feedback seriously.

So conversations need to continue.

You have likely already heard by now that Metrolinx is doing its part to curb the spread of COVID-19. GO service schedules have changed, station hours have been shortened, and we are temporarily not accepting cash as a form of payment.

You can find those constant Metrolinx COVID-19 updates by clicking here.

In addition to the changes in the way you receive our services, we have also had to rethink our approach to engaging with you – not being so distant that we don’t hear your voice.

As you know, we have lots of projects that we are delivering across the region and in your neighbourhoods. And, our ability to effectively deliver those projects relies on the feedback we get from you.

A truck delivers a girder in this file image.

In this file photo, a truck delivers girders to a construction site. (Metrolinx photo)

Normally, you can find Metrolinx staff, on one evening or another, at a local library, community centre or school sharing the projects we have underway.

To keeps those talks going, we have made some adjustments to our approach.

A screen-shot of the Metrolinx Engage page.

Community meetings and information sharing can now be done quickly online. (Metrolinx image)

The Metrolinx Engage platform enables us to share our open house and presentation materials and still supports the collection of questions and comments. While we use this online format to replace our traditional open house meetings, we will explore various features to help make them as informative as possible.

In some cases, we will post narrated videos that can walk you through the content our technical experts would have explained during open houses.

We will also be hosting live sessions with technical teams, to answer questions in real-time.

Recently, Metrolinx did a test drive of our virtual open house format hosted on Metrolinx Engage, starting with the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) project. On March 23, that session featured an online slide presentation and a station progress update video.

Metrolinx made a commitment to have questions to this open house answered within 48 hours of being posed. You can view the questions and answers by simply clicking here.

We are going to continue to look at ways to enhance our virtual experience to replicate or – just maybe – do better than our traditional approaches. Though yes, we’d all rather see one another in person.

A screen-grab from the site shows samples of questions and answers.

Here’s a sample of one of our question and answer pages. To actually engage, and use these features, click on the links in this story. (Metrolinx image)

We have already identified some upcoming meetings that we know are going online. Here’s the project list so far, with more details to come:

  • March 30 – Davenport Diamond guideway construction
  • April 1-10 – Eglinton Crosstown West Extension meetings
  • April 9 – Eglinton Crosstown Eastern Works Open House
  • April 14 – Eglinton Crosstown Central East Open House
  • April (with dates to come) – York Region – Lindenshire pedestrian walkway construction
  • May and June (with dates and more details to come) – OnCorr (5-6 events), Ontario Line meetings (4-5 events), Hurontario LRT (5 events) and Kitchener Corridor Expansion Public Information Centre (3 events)

To take part in those sessions, simply click here.

Also in April, in Peel Region, Metrolinx’s constructor (Mobilinx) for the Hurontario LRT project, had planned to hold trade shows in Mississauga and Brampton to engage with potential suppliers, vendors and those looking for employment. While these in-person trade shows will not be possible at this time, Mobilinx will make the procurement and employment information available online as soon as possible.

Presentations prepared for the events will be moved to the Mobilinx website – you can find that by clicking here – in the coming weeks. Following that, there could be two in-person sessions held in the fall in Mississauga and Brampton.

As the situation continues, and we need to bring new online approaches to our forthcoming meetings, we will continue to keep you informed. Again, just click here to go to that page.

As with all people lately, there’s a needed distance between us all now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to reach out.

Story by Trina Melatti, Metrolinx, director of Capital Communications.