Billions on buses or on track for trams: Sunshine Coast plots mass transit future
The Sunshine Coast is pushing ahead with plans to reinvent the region’s transport network amid fears that congestion costs – already at $500m a year – could blow out to $3 billion a year over the next two decades.
An artist's impression of what a light rail system on the Sunshine Coast would look like.
Sunshine Coast council has gone out to the community with a range of options from small public transport upgrades to a light rail system between Maroochydore and Caloundra to get people out of their cars and onto mass transit.
Costs for the various options range from $880 million to nearly $2.7 billion, with the council insisting that the federal and state governments will have to foot the lion’s share of the bill.
The council on Wednesday released its full 358-page “options analysis” for the region’s transport network upgrades, inviting public comment for the next eight weeks.
“Without intervention, population growth and increasing congestion will continue to put pressure on housing, transport, lifestyle, employment, social infrastructure, and the environment,” the analysis states.
“All the planning and strategy development undertaken over the past decade by Sunshine Coast Council and the Queensland Government favours the second strategy as the only viable approach.”
However, the plan is likely to revive criticism from community groups that the council’s approach to transport problems would turn the region into a version of the Gold Coast.
They fear identifying a mass transit corridor between the new purpose-built CBD at Maroochydore and Caloundra will encourage high rise development.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the region was forecast to have 518,000 residents within next 20 years.
“We must be vigilant about ensuring our lifestyles are maintained and right now that is at risk,” he said.
“If we want to protect our lifestyle and want local residents to get around more efficiently, then we cannot bury our heads in the sand and say we don’t want to change anything.”
Jamieson described as a “mistruth” the notion that the council was only considering a light rail solution.
“Our council has not made any decision on which option it should be.”
He said the community’s input would inform whatever recommendations the council made to the state government on a detail business case.