Green light to progress public transport options to next stage

Sunshine Coast Council

A report into public transport improvement options to better connect our community between Maroochydore City Centre and Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Birtinya and, eventually, Caloundra will progress to the State and Federal Governments for further investigation.

The Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Options Analysis Report, which has been informed by extensive community feedback, was approved by Sunshine Coast Council at a Special Meeting today.

The report recommends that five options proceed to the Detailed Business Case stage.

Noting in particular community concerns with Light Rail Technology with overhead wires.

Sunshine Coast Council Transport Portfolio Holder Councillor Rick Baberowski was pleased with the outcome, given council has been on the transport planning journey since 2011.

“While today’s approval does not mean that a decision to build a Mass Transit system has been made, it is very likely the work undertaken to prepare the Options Analysis will underpin and encourage the necessary investment required by the relevant governments,” Cr Baberowski.

“I’d like to sincerely thank the many residents who provided their thoughts on the future of transport on the Sunshine Coast, we are very grateful to everyone who took the time to provide feedback, which has helped improve the overall Options Analysis Report.

“As many are aware, sustainability has been key to council’s vision and story dating back well over a decade – evidenced in a string of strategy documents prepared by council and with major input from our community.

“We must continue this chance to carefully examine how our residents and visitors will move around our region in the future, if we are to protect what we know and love about the Sunshine Coast.

“It’s very clear that private vehicles cannot continue to essentially be our only option as more and more people choose to call our region home – that is, if we want to care for our environment (which we must), maintain our liveability and avoid wasteful periods of our time in traffic.

“I’d like to remind the community that today, we have not been tasked with voting for a preferred technology option or options; the final route; committing to any investment or funding decision relating to a potential mass transit solution; or committing to, or progressing, any amendments to the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014.

“Instead, we have referred the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Options Analysis to the State Government for further investigation, this is because that level of government is ultimately responsible for the public transport network – the infrastructure, the rolling stock, the ticketing and pricing; and referral to Infrastructure Australia.

“As previously stated on numerous occasions, further detailed community engagement on all aspects of the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Project will be part of the Detailed Business Case stage, led by the State Government.

“While we won’t make the final decision on the technology chosen, we can certainly ensure our community’s interests are well-considered by partnering with the State Government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads in preparing the Detailed Business Case.

“As we have said in the past, regardless of the mode selected, any mass transit system will need to be supported by more bus services, improved routes and timetables and better connections to reduce travel times to areas not directly serviced by mass transit, such as regional (heavy) rail in the CAMCOS corridor.

“It’s anticipated that the State Government will start reviewing the Options Analysis as soon as it has been received, with preparation of the Detailed Business Case anticipated to get underway in 2022.”

Project timeline/background:

Date

Project milestone

2012, 2014, 2018

Previous community consultation in relation to transport policy, in particular, mass transit proposals

July 2019

Council endorsed a Strategic Business Case

January 2020

Progress Report on the Preliminary Business Case

Early 2020

Options Analysis Report underway

August 2020

Community engagement framework, endorsed by council

Early 2021

Community engagement specialist appointed

12 April 2021

Community engagement dates announced

28 April 2021

Options Analysis Report published

28 April– 22 June 2021

Community engagement

22 June 2021- ongoing

Analysis of thousands of community submissions

20 October 2021 -council meeting

Options Analysis Report with community engagement results approved by council and will be referred to the State Government for further investigation.

2022

In partnership with the State Government, the preparation of a detailed business case will occur, which will narrow the options to a preferred project design. The community will be invited by the State Government to provide feedback on the preferred option.

In May 2019, the State Government committed $7.5 million towards the first stage of the detailed business case, to be matched by council.

State Government investigations into a significantly improved Sunshine Coast public transport system would initially focus on the Maroochydore City Centre to Sunshine Coast University Hospital, just one component of the long-term Mass Transit Master Plan.

Public transport is a State Government responsibility; therefore, the State Government is responsible for all operating costs of any mass transit system.

Council meeting minutes and agenda documents are published here: https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Council/Council-Meetings/Meetings-Minutes-and-Agendas.

Visit council’s website for information about the mass transit project and sign up today to receive future project updates.

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