After unveiling five scaled-back options for the Project Connect light rail system, Austin Transit Partnership board members met March 22 to discuss how community members can make their voices heard.

During the meeting, board members did not discuss the individual plans. Instead, their focus was on what the next steps are for community feedback.

"The open house we had was not a one-and-done engagement," said Julia Campbell, executive vice president of communications and community partnership with ATP. "It's the start of a dialogue and a kickoff event to start the next six weeks of talks."

Campbell said officials will be out in the community nearly every day of the week for the next six weeks getting as much feedback as they can in order to present ATP board members with a report.

"Information will be gathered, and we will make an informed recommendation in late May," said Greg Canally, executive director of ATP. "We will then go to Austin City Council, ATP and Capital Metro boards in early June where we will present a mix of community feedback with our expertise to move the light rail forward."

Campbell said the community engagement will not likely result in a tally sheet; rather, it will be a summary report with themes and concepts to see where the voices are being heard and who is saying what.

Board Member Jeffrey Travillion stressed the importance of ensuring broad demographic and geographic representation with the community feedback in mind.

"We need to make sure the east and west sides, north and south sides are all heard," Travillion said. "It needs to be equitable and easy to participate."

There are five options to submit comments at the moment, and more in-person meetings will be scheduled, Campbell said."There was an intoxicating amount of energy in that room yesterday during the open house," ATP Board Chair Veronica Castro de Barrera said. "It was our first public meeting of this magnitude since COVID began, and we have our work cut out for us."