Latest Mass Transit News
Time to get Active Again.
On 21 November 2022, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) announced they are setting up a Community Reference Group (CRG) to help guide the Detailed Business Case (DBC) (the 3rd and final stage) for the Mass Transit Project. (now renamed by TMR to the Sunshine Coast Public Transport (SCPT) project).
This is a welcome move and we are encouraging as many people as possible to apply. This is where the rubber really hits the road and we have the opportunity to input directly into the State Government's future decisions.
We know the Sunshine Coast Regional Council rates light rail as the highest option and are continuing to have dialogue with TMR. This is the Community's chance to also put our view forward.
Applications close midnight December 11, 2022.
Where are we in the Process?
On 20 October last year, the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) voted to endorse the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Options Analysis Report and to have the CEO advance it to the State Government (TMR) for the preparation of the third and final stage, the Detailed Business Case (DBC). The DBC was budgeted to cost $15million which was to be jointly funded by SCRC and TMR. It was estimated it would be completed by mid to end of 2023.
Since then the following has occured:
$5m of funding has been provided by the Federal Government reducing SCRC and TMR's committment to $5million each.
No Memorandum of Understanding between TMR and the SCRC has been signed.
TMR has expanded the project and renamed it "Sunshine Coast Public Transport" (SCPT) Project
TMR conducted their own public consultation on their 'Draft Southern Sunshine Coast Public Transport Strategy", in March 2022. The results are to be discussed by the Community Reference Group and incorporated into the SCPT Detailed Business Case.
TMR are simultaneously running a $6million study looking at the Camcos Corridor, Beewah to Maroochydore (B2M), expected to be complete early 2023.
TMR has issued two tenders on SCPT project:
a) "Project Management Services Sunshine Coast Public Transport Detailed Business Case 27 May 2022, and
b) Business Case Management Services for the Sunshine Coast Public Transport Project Oct 2022.
7. Despite having already spent over $12 million on the project and committed a further $5million on funding for the DBC, the SCRC has gone silent on the project, with minimal updates to the Council's website and no Community updates given.
In November, MTAG wrote to the CEO of the SCRC requesting updates on all of the above. SCRC failed to respond to any of our questions instead saying "Your questions about the SCPT project should be directed to DTMR".
MTAG has subsequently forward the same questions to TMR and will share their response when we receive it.
MTAG has been advised that the SCPT project is now running well behind the timing the SCRC originally proposed. Estimated completion of the Detailed Business Case (orginally mid to late 2022) is now estimated to be in 2024. Implementation timing after that is unknown.
The creation of the Community Reference Group on the SCPT Project by TMR is a good thing and signals things are beginning to get underway again.
Sunshine Coast New 2024 Planning Scheme
Preliminary Public consultation on the SCRC new Planning Scheme for the region occurred in March 2022.
Results were finally released in September 2022. Council said this was their "largest and most successful engagement project.”
Over 8000 people provided feedback. In particular there were over 6,000 surveys completed and a further 375 written submissions. The feedback report makes it clear, the community did not support Council’s proposed densification along the Mass Transit Corridor.
There was a very clear message delivered to Council re concerns about building heights, increasing densities, parking and maintaining the character and feel of what exists today.
In their report, SCRC state:
“Issues and concerns raised will be carefully considered in drafting the local plan area provisions, allocating zones and nominating maximum allowable building heights in different localities, particularly in relation to:
• potential increases in density or height along key corridors and urban villages (or nodes) in the Kawana Waters and Mooloolaba–Alexandra Headland local plan areas.
• possible areas for additional low-medium density residential development in Beerwah – Landsborough, Coolum – Peregian, Mooloolaba – Alexandra Headland, Mooloolah Valley and North Shore local plan areas."
MTAG would like to congratulate everyone who participated in this consultation. It is an example of how collectively we can effectively deliver a clear message to Council and hopefully have Council reflect this thinking in the planning for our future.
Summary of Feedback
Top five planning priorities:
-Protecting the natural environment and green spaces
-Maintaining building heights within set limits
-Improving our region’s resilience to climate change
-Retaining local character
-Providing parks and open space.
Top eight community concerns:
-Potential increases in density or building height along key transport corridors in the coastal corridor between Maroochydore and Caloundra, particularly in the Kawana Waters and Mooloolaba – Alexandra Headland local plan areas
-Potential areas for additional low-medium density residential development (duplexes and town houses) within some existing suburbs
-Conversion of some rural residential or rural land to urban residential uses
-Resilience to flooding
-Improving design outcomes
-Preserving the character and identity of each of our local communities
-Maintaining existing larger urban and rural residential lot sizes to preserve local character
-Traffic congestion and parking associated with growth and change.
What’s Next in Council's Process?
Council is currently at Step 3 in the process as shown below.
Council was not obligated to undertake this initial consultation (step 2) so it is even more encouraging to see such a large number of people respond and take the opportunity to have input at this early stage.
The messages were clear. Hopefully Council will listen and modify their thinking to reflect what they have been told when preparing the draft new scheme.
The next time we will get to have a say is in Step 5 which is anticipated to be sometime in 2023.
MTAG will continue to monitor the progress and let people know when and how they can participate in the future
Thanks to Everyone who rallied. It is a shame Councillors did not listen!
Fig 1. Mass Transit Master Plan
Mass Transit 1st priority 13.6km
Source: Draft Options Analysis Report April 2021
Fig 2. Mass Transit Corridor
Shaded area represents potential high-rise development
Red line is the mass transit route
PWC Preliminary Business Case Interim Findings
Jan 2020 P 13
The light rail they are proposing will have overhead wires and fixed steel tracks and will form a barrier along the beach.
Listen to the noise Light Rail Makes!
Who are the Councilors responsible for this plan?
The Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Cross Departmental Working Group was established in Aug 2018 to steer the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Project.
The Working Group Comprised of: Mayor Mark Jamieson, Cr Tim Dwyer, Cr Rick Baberowski, Cr Christian Dickson, Cr Peter Cox, Cr John Connolly, and Cr Jason O'Pray
Following the March 2020 election the Working Group was re-established as the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Control Group Comprising:
Mayor Mark Jamieson, Cr Rick Baberowski, Cr Peter Cox, and Cr Christian Dickson.
Deputy Mayor, Cr Rick Baberowski thinks Light Rail is a good idea!
Watch Cr Joe Natoli's share his thoughts as he rides the Light Rail on the Gold Coast
Cr Joe Natoli explains Mass Transit and Increased Density in simple terms.
This is happening on the Gold Coast Now!
What is Mass Transit?
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council has been working on a public transport plan they call "Mass Transit" for a number of years. On April 28th 2021, they released their latest "Mass Transit" report titled "The Draft Options Analysis Report". This report shows a public transport Masterplan (Fig. 1) that deems the 13.6km coastal corridor from Maroochydore to Birtinya as the first public transport priority for the Sunshine Coast. Operational by 2027. It looks at numerous public transport options for this corridor but recommends only 5 options, Light Rail, wireless light rail, trackless tram, rapid bus transit and maybe quality bus corridor, be progressed further.
Council have also indicated they are planning to significantly increase the population density along this coastal corridor. A major selection criteria for these 5 options is their ability to deliver "urban renewal" in the corridor.
"The relationship is mutually beneficial ……- an infill focus in the corridor will support light rail and the establishment of a light rail corridor can be expected to be a catalyst for urban infill development.
SCRC Urban Transformations Directions Paper 2017"
The route and 5 options are not being chosen because they are the best transport solution for the whole of the Sunshine Coast, but because they are the best options to facilitate high-rise development. All the other options such as heavy rail along the CAMCOS corridor (that would benefit way more residents) are deemed to be further down the priority list with no timeframe for implementation.
Priority for Mass Transit Investment (Fig 1)
1. Maroochydore to Kawana (13.6km mass transit)(Blue line)
2. CAMCOS South - Beerwah to Kawana via Caloundra
3. Kawana to Caloundra (mass transit) (Blue line)
4. CAMCOS North - Kawana to Maroochydore (Red line)
5. Airport Connection (dotted line)
Source; Draft Options Analysis Report 2021
Mass Transit is not about the whole of the Coast. It refers only to the 13.6km coastal stretch. (Fig 2) Note, Stage 1 does not go to Caloundra. This is deemed priority no. 3.
Historically the Council's stated mass transit preference was for light rail along this 13.6km beach corridor with rezoning for higher density housing. In this latest report they broadened the transport modes to 9 options but their analysis indicates light rail is still the most preferred option.
What do Council Recommend?
The report lists 9 transport options for this 13.6km corridor. Council have stated a preference for only 5 of these:
Quality Bus Corridor,
Bus Rapid Transit,
Light Rail Transit,
Trackless Tram and
Wire free Light Rail.
The report recommends the last 4 options will be progressed to the next stage, (The Detailed Business Case) whilst the Quality Bus Corridor may be progressed but as a staging option or as an ultimate option.
All 4 of these definite options are very similar:
They are only along the coastal strip and do not benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast.
All are similar to Light Rail in that they will run down the centre of the road and will create a barrier along the beach.
All will require lanes to be removed, property resumptions and enable high-rise along the corridor.
All will cost in excess of $2billion each
Why does Council prefer Light Rail?
Light rail is preferred because it has the greatest ability to deliver urban renewal/infill ie higher density, high-rise housing. Historical Council documents continually refer to this.
"The options assessment process concluded that only the LRT option and potentially the BRT option are considered to have significant benefits in achieving the important land use criterion. The Quality Bus Corridor option is based on bus lanes, and although it performs well in terms of transport and cost, cannot achieve the full range of urban renewal benefits sought for the SCMT Project in the Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor.
Preliminary Business Case Interim findings report 2020
Council's choice of route and preferred transport mode is about the ability to deliver higher density, high-rise housing and not the best transport system for the people. Urbanization is being used as a key driver rather than community transport needs for now and into the future.
What do MTAG recommend?
We do NOT consider any of the options being offered are the answer to current or future population or transport problems on the Coast. (Click here to see our submission to Council.) The preferred options do NOT benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast. Instead they focus only on 13.6km and transport modes that best deliver higher population densities in this 13.6km.
Our FIRST preference is to see fast/heavy rail from Brisbane to Maroochydore (CAMCOS) with a modern, efficient, flexible, green, bus system connecting ALL the sunshine coast region
But Council’s FIRST priority is this mass transit system extending from Maroochydore to Kawana (SCUH) that only services 13.6km.
The Business Case Process
The project is spread over 3 phases
Strategic Business Case:
Completed and accepted by Council July 2019 (no Community consultation)
Preliminary Business Case/Options Analysis:
PBC Interim Findings report Jan 2020 (accepted by Council Feb 2020)
Renamed and rewritten to "Options Analysis" late 2020.
Draft Options Analysis Report released April 28 2021
8 week community consultation conducted April 28- June 22 2021
Final Options Analysis report to be prepared and voted on by Council late 2021
Detailed Business Case:
Final stage conducted by Queensland State Government
Who has paid for this so far?
Normally all three stages of the process would be conducted by and paid for by the Queensland State Government (QSG). However the Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) have taken it upon themselves to conduct and impose the cost onto rate payers for stages 1 and 2. $11.5 million has been spent so far. This has been funded from the annual transport levy all rate payers pay. This is a cost the QSG should bear, not the rate payers of the Sunshine Coast.
In October 2021 the SCRC voted (6-5) to proceed with the final options analysis and handed it to the QSG for more rigorous review. Both the SCRC and the QSG have committed a further $7.5 million each ($15million) for the completion of stage 3.
If this plan progresses it is likely to cost over $2billion to construct. It will require funding from all levels of government so everyone will continue to pay even though it does not benefit them.
Business Case Total Spend = $26.5 million
Implementiation cost =$2+ billion
Who is MTAG?
We are the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Action Group Inc. We are a "not for profit", incorporated community organization made up of a group of concerned residents who live across all of the Sunshine Coast. We believe the Sunshine Coast Regional Council is doing the right thing in addressing the issue of population growth and congestion, but feel strongly, light rail and its associated medium and high rise development is NOT THE RIGHT solution for the future. We are committed to ensuring that the Mass Transit Business Case reflects the needs and aspirations of the community.
President: Tracey Goodwin-McDonald
Secretary: Greg Smith
Treasurer: Kate Harvey