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Metrolinx pays Toronto-area ‘influencers’ for transit-friendly posts

Transit agency Metrolinx buys Instagram influence
WATCH: Metrolinx is taking a new approach in an effort to promote upcoming transit projects. It has signed on 11 area influencers to post transit-friendly photos and messages for their thousands of followers.

Metrolinx has joined forces with a selection of Toronto-area social media influencers in an effort to promote transit projects, including some that are only in the preliminary stages.

The advertising campaign pays 11 “community-based influencers” to post transit-friendly photos and messages under the hashtag #mxitshappening for their thousands of followers, the regional transit agency said.

Six are assigned to the Ontario Line TTC expansion project, with four focused on GO network expansion and one on the Hurontario Line LRT.

“Instagram is a great way to reach new demographics and ensure we influence their transportation choices,” spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins wrote in an email.

She said the effort helps build confidence with the public that there is progress on building transit. It also increases awareness of future services so that residents can decide where to “live, work and play,” she added.

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READ MORE: Toronto city council votes to approve Ontario government’s transit plan

While some of the posts show influencers riding transit, others focus on distant and uncertain projects that, according to Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow, should not be promoted until they exist.

“It’s really eye-rolling that Metrolinx would be spending public money on an influencer campaign about lines like the Ontario Line that hasn’t even been fully approved,” Matlow said.

“The stops haven’t been determined and it hasn’t even been fully funded or built.”

The Ontario Line, which would run from the Science Centre to Ontario Place, is planned to open in 2027.

Metrolinx has not stated how much it has spent on its social media influencer campaign.