Metrolinx likens ongoing work to an ‘awkward phase’

The transit operator acknowledges the frustrations its projects have caused, but shows them as a step towards progress.


Metrolinx is comparing the disruption of road construction to braces and acne in its latest campaign, which acknowledges things that have frustrated commuters for years, but are necessary to improve transit service in Ontario.

The lead spot in the transit operator’s new “It’s Happening” campaign, by Leo Burnett Toronto, features a group of teenagers explaining that the “awkward phase” is something that needs to happen in order to get “where we want to be.” They make the comparison in front of a backdrop showing construction on rail tracks, stations and city streets, saying the messiness means change is actually happening.

The campaign is acknowledging disruption some Metrolinx projects have brought to areas of the province. The project that first comes to mind for many Toronto residents is the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, which has been under construction since 2011 and – following an announcement last week – has been delayed until some time in late 2022. The construction has caused significant congestion along and around Eglinton Ave., with many small businesses citing disruption on the streets as having a negative impact on their businesses (over 100 have closed since construction began and, in November, Metroxlinx launched an “Experience Eglinton” campaign to try to support the impacted businesses).

Mark Childs, CMO at Metrolinx, says the campaign builds on the company’s mission to connect communities and make transit a more convenient choice. But while other recent work has done things like cast the GO Bus as the latest innovation in transportation, this one focuses on improvements that are still in progress, relating to Ontario residents while trying to help them see what the end goal is.

“The adolescent ‘in-between phase’ is something we can all relate to,” Childs says. “After this transition period we can experience the joy of adulthood. The advertising idea parallels this ‘in between phase’ with our transit changes and progress. The in-between construction phase for Metrolinx can be messy and disruptive but it is proof that change is happening and will lead to the benefit for our region of having a world-class transit system.”

In addition to the Crosstown, Metrolinx is currently in the midst of or preparing to begin a number of other projects, including construction, improvements and extensions to stations, rail lines and routes across its network, meaning the message is (or will soon be) relevant to residents outside of Toronto. As such, the campaign is being targeted to people throughout Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe region, which includes Niagara, Hamilton, Waterloo, Durham, Peterborough and Barrie. Childs says residents have told Metrolinx that they are eager to have more information about projects, progress updates, fare options and partnerships, and says there has been an increase in website visits and newsletter sign-ups since the campaign began last weekend.