The next phase of considering Sunshine Coast’s future public transport options has been marked with Sunshine Coast Council’s release of findings from initial feasibility studies on light rail.
Building on pre-feasibility work delivered by Council in August 2012, the document released today focuses on how the region will grow over the next two decades and the implications for lifestyle, the economy and the environment.
Jointly funded by the Australian Government and Council, the Sunshine Coast Light Rail - Shaping Our Future document highlights that the region is forecast to grow by about 50 per cent over the next 20 years, with a large proportion of that growth expected to occur between Maroochydore and Caloundra.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said the research showed growth would contribute to a doubling of traffic along key north-south routes on the Coast unless alternative and more cost-effective public transport solutions were put in place.
“Council is striving to make the Sunshine Coast Australia’s most sustainable region and that includes thinking smarter about how we move people around,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Nobody likes congestion and Council is keen to ensure that while it plans for a growing community, it also plans now for how people will move between home and work and where they shop and play.
“Council believes that by working constructively and proactively over the coming years with the Queensland Government – which is responsible for the public transport network – we can identify the most appropriate and affordable solution that can meet the needs of this region.
“Council believes light rail should be investigated because of its capacity to deliver many benefits.
“More than 400 cities of varying sizes around the world, including Canberra, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, have already opted for a light rail or tram system and there are many more being planned or built.
“Council will continue to work in the years ahead with the Queensland Government to determine whether light rail is the right choice for the Sunshine Coast.
“Council is conscious however, that any decision will be dependent on the feasibility study showing clear evidence of viability, including community support.
“We do know from our recent investigations that light rail can offer more lifestyle options, health benefits, stimulate new business and property investment and improve property values, among other gains.”
Transport Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said the study was not simply a question of transport planning.
“This is about finding innovative ways to maintain the quality of life for future generations, so our local centres and communities are connected and our streets and civic spaces are activated in a way that promotes enjoyment, accessibility and convenience,” Cr Baberowski said.
“There has been strong community support for this work to date and I encourage residents and businesses to put forward their views.
“We must remember however, that any decision on the future public transport solutions for the region will be made by the Queensland Government”, Cr Baberowski said.
“Completing the detailed feasibility study on light rail, which we anticipate will be during the next 12-18 months, will help inform those decisions.
“If light rail stacks up and gets the go-ahead, then it certainly won’t happen overnight.
“This is part of a conversation that Council and the community is looking to have with the Queensland Government on the preferred public transport solutions for the Sunshine Coast in 2025 and beyond,” Cr Baberowski said.