Latest Mass Transit News
In October 2021, the Sunshine Coast Regional Council voted (6-5) to progress to the next stage of investigation of a 13km mass transit system along our coastal strip. The "Options Analysis" report prepared by Council (a report which rated Light Rail as the top ranking mode of transport) was passed to the State Government to undertake the third and final stage in the process, the Detailed Business Case. This Detailed Business Case is being funded 50/50 between the Queensland State Government and the Sunshine Coast Regional Council at a total cost of $15million.
As to how the business case will occur and what role/influence the SCRC will have in its preparation has never been revealed. On July 19 2022, all Councillors received the update below.
Qld State Government (TMR)
"Draft Southern Sunshine Coast Public Transport Strategy"
In February 2022 the Queensland State Government released its public transport strategy for the Southern section of the Sunshine Coast. This strategy is very similar to the Master Plan Transport Strategy released by Council as part of its Options Analysis last year. Key components are a mass transit system along our coastal corridor and development of heavy rail along the CAMCOS corridor.
Public consultation has now closed on this strategy and we are awaiting the results and the next steps by the State Government.
To view the Draft Strategy go to our documents page. Click here
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
What do MTAG want to happen Next?
Our research and community feedback indicate the recommendations and the thinking shaping the Options Analysis report were completely out of sync with community attitudes. We contend that the Options Analysis report should have been revised for the following reasons:
1. Based on our extensive research and communications with the community, the choice of the 13.6km urban corridor and the 5 preferred mass transport options for it, do not meet the community’s needs or expectations and focusses on the wrong priority for the region.
2. Land Use Criteria, whilst a consideration in the process, has been given overstated importance in the overall selection criteria for a mass transit system. Urbanization is being used as a key driver rather than community transport need. The SCRC Corporate Plan 2021-2025 sets a vision to be “Australia’s most sustainable region” yet sustainability is only given a weighting of 10% vs Land Use at 30%.
3. If land use is such an important criterion, then the community needs to be made aware of levels of densification planned and the format of this new urban form in order to make an informed view about how this impacts them, and their choice of public transport associated with it. The community will not have adequate awareness of this until the revised planning scheme goes to public consultation in late 2022. To choose the transport mode before the community has accepted the urban form imposes the risk the urbanization and transport solution may not be co-located.
4. A major review of Mass Transit systems worldwide has not been conducted and the primary documentation informing the draft Options Analysis ranging back to 2012 are Council internal documents that have a stated bias toward light rail and have therefore skewed assumptions used and the recommendations made.
5. The implementation of a mass transit system of the types proposed are premature and overkill given the current poor state of public transport usage. Nowhere in the world has a mass transit system gone in based on population growth only. It has always been predicated on good, well used public transport being in place first.
MTAG’s position is that the region does need a modern, efficient, environmentally friendly, and well-utilized public transport system to meet future population growth. This system needs to be region-wide and offer an improvement over the current options. The introduction of a $2+billion mass transit system for 13.6km only will not bring about the quantum usage shift required to address the traffic congestion issues of the region in the future.
Therefore, the Options Analysis should have been revised to consider a wider region solution that the community can see and buy into, a system that can grow with increased usage and population growth. We contend a mass transit system (LRT, wLRT, Trackless Tram or Rapid Bus Transit) for only 13.6km from Maroochydore to Birtinya is not the correct 1st priority for a mass transit masterplan for the Sunshine Coast.
The 9 Options Explained
There are 9 transport options in the Draft Options Analysis Report. These are the options and our thoughts:
business as usual (Not Council preferred)
MTAG - This option is never likely to happen as nothing ever stays the same forever
road network upgrades – road upgrades in the coastal corridor which would benefit all users including buses (Not Council Preferred)
MTAG - This option is needed regardless of what public transport option is chosen. It needs to be region-wide
region-wide bus service enhancements – new and existing routes with improved frequency, more direct routes and better connections (Not Council Preferred)
MTAG - This option would benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast but needs to include new technologies such as electric and hydrogen buses. Needs road upgrades as well. A good option if combined with Fast Rail to Brisbane.
region-wide bus network upgrades supported by key bus infrastructure such as improved shelters, sections of bus priority lanes and park ‘n’ ride facilities (Not Council Preferred)
MTAG - This option would benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast but again needs to include new technologies such as electric and hydrogen buses and needs road upgrades to work. Again could work if combined with Fast Rail to Brisbane.
quality bus corridor – a high-frequency bus service running in dedicated kerbside bus priority lanes with features such as high-quality vehicles, pre-paid boarding and quality bus stops (Shortlisted by Council but may only proceed as a staging option)
MTAG - This option is only along the coastal strip and does not benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast. It needs to include new technologies such as electric and hydrogen buses. It would also require road upgrades. Cost $0.88 billion
Bus Rapid Transit – 25 metre-long battery-powered, rubber tyred vehicles running at high frequency in a dedicated busway corridor mostly in the centre of the road with high-quality stations, pre-paid boarding and priority signalling (Council preferred)
MTAG - This option is only along the coastal strip and does not benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast. It is similar to Light Rail in that it would run down the centre of the road and would create a barrier along the beach. It would require lanes to be removed, property resumptions and enable higher density living along the corridor. Cost $2.37 billion
Light Rail Transit - 45 metre long modern rail vehicles running at high frequency on a dedicated trackway mostly in the centre of the road with high-quality stations, pre-paid boarding and priority signalling (Council Preferred)
MTAG - This option is only along the coastal strip and does not benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast. It has a fixed track and ugly overhead wires. It is noisy and would create a barrier along the beach. It would require lanes to be removed, property resumptions and enable higher density living along the corridor. Cost $2.66 billion.
Trackless tram - 32 metre long battery powered rubber tyred 'tram like' vehicles running at high frequency in a dedicated busway corridor mostly in the centre of the road with high-quality stations, pre-paid boarding and priority signalling (Council Preferred)
MTAG - This option is only along the coastal strip and does not benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast. It is similar to Light Rail in that it would run down the centre of the road. It would require lanes to be removed, property resumptions and enable higher density living along the corridor. It is also extremely expensive. Cost $2.39 billion
wLRT - A wire-free light rail system - identical to the light rail option, minus the overhead wires, with on-board batteries and charging equipment at select stations. (Council Preferred)
MTAG - This option is only along the coastal strip and does not benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast. It is the same as the Light Rail option without the wires. It would run down the centre of the road, require lanes to be removed, property resumptions and enable higher density living along the corridor. It is more expensive than the Light Rail Option. Cost $2.64 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