Gold Coast Light Rail Case Study

Everyone is paying the price!

A Must Watch.

Don't let this happen to you!

The Mass Transit Plan for the Sunshine Coast is being modeled on the Gold Coast.  But why? 

The Gold Coast light rail is losing money and not achieving the shift to public transport that was hoped. After 6 years:

  • only 5% of all trips are by public transport

  •  88% of trips are still by car

  •  And people are being forced to live next door to unsightly high-rise.



Gold Coast light rail is being built over 3 stages and the Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) has had to

contribute over $267 million.

Gold Coast officials have confirmed it does not make money.  In its initial years of operation, subsidies of  $40 million per year were required. 

Watch Cr Joe Natoli's experience on the Gold Coast Light Rail 

User data shows local usage is actually declining even with stage 2 commencing.  All the growth is coming from tourists not locals. 

Annual trips for Gold Coast System

Annual Trips                         2016                            2019                       % 

Locals                                  18,555,380           18,309,772                 -1.3% (Despite stage 2 starting 2017)

Tourists                                3,274,479               6,433,163               +96.5%

Total                                     21,829,859            24,742,935             +13.3%

Source Translink

Gold Coast Light Rail History

Stage 1 Commenced operation 2014

  • 13km light rail track

  • 16 stations

  • Funded by public-private partnership between the State Government, The Federal Government and the the Gold Coast City Council.

  • In 2009 approximately $1 billion was contributed as follows :

    • $120 million paid by GCCC

    • $365 million paid by Federal Government

    • $464 million paid by State Government

  • By 2012 the cost estimated was increased to $1.6 billion.  

  • $170 million ws allocated for property resumption

  • Estimated subsidies in the initial years were around $40m per year which the GCCC had to cover

Stage 2 Commenced 2017-18

  • 7.3km light rail track

  • 3 Stations

  • Funded by public-private partnership between the State Government, The Federal Government and the the Gold Coast City Council.

  • $420 million was contributed as follows :

    • $55 million paid by GCCC

    • $270 million paid by Federal Government

    • $95 million paid by State Government

Stage 3 due for completion 2023

  • 6.4km light rail track

  • 8 Stations

  • Funded by public-private partnership between the State Government, The Federal Government and the the Gold Coast City Council.

  • $670 million was contributed as follows :

    • $92 million paid by GCCC

    • $1120 million paid by Federal Government

    • $351 million paid by State Government

  • Infrastructure Australia estimates the projects operating and maintenance costs over 30 years to be $716 million.


Gold Coast Light Rail Stations Stage 1 & 2

stations map.jpg


So What Does this Mean for the Sunshine Coast?

  • Stage 1 is identical to the Gold Coast:

  • 13km Light rail track

  • 16 Stations

  • Public-Private partnership Model

If the Gold Coast cost $1.4 billion back in 2014, what will the Sunshine Coast project cost in today's dollars and how much will the Sunshine Coast Council have to put up for this first stage?

Everyone is already paying for this. 


In 2017 the transport levy went up 56% specifically for the Mass Transit project.  Everyone now pays $44 annually. (The Gold Coast pays $133 annually)

To date, $8.5million dollars has been spent on the Mass Transit project. Of this, $7.5 million came from the annual transport levy we all pay.

And for what?  A report that we are not allowed to see yet? A report that proposes a light rail, costing billions of dollars, in a 13km stretch where only 8% of the population live? A report that proposes to put up to 5 times the amount of people we currently have along our beach corridor?  Everyone is paying but where is eveyone's benefit?

If the mass transit project goes to the next stage a further $7.5million of our rate payers monies will go toward it. That will be at least $16 million of our money that has been spent on this project. In the same time just over $200,000 was spent on heavy rail investigations.  A project that would benefit the whole of the Sunshine Coast. WHY? Take our survey and let us know what you would prefer.


Council acknowledges they will need $100million to fund this project

Below is from the Council's Transport Levy Annual Report 2019/20.  It shows that the amount in the futures fund is currently $14,324,295.

Following questioning from Cr O'Pray at the SCRC Ordinary Meeting September 17th, Cr Baberowski indicated that based on the experience of the mass transit solution implemented on the Gold Coast, the Council is aiming to accumulate around $100,000,000 in this fund as the Council's potential contribution to Stage 1 of the implementation of a mass transit solution that it hopes will be predominately funded from the other tiers of government.

Mtag thinks this 𝗳𝗶𝗴𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗮 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗰 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗽𝘂𝗿𝗽𝗼𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗳𝗶𝗴𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗯𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗱 𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲𝗻 𝗮𝗹𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝟭𝟬 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 $𝟭𝟰 𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗼𝗻.

Is it the Council's intention to significantly increase the annual Transport Levy each ratepayer is charged with their rates or will the shortfall, given the present rate of growth in the Fund, be funded through borrowings?






Even if you do not live in the light rail corridor, it will still affect you.  Every ratepayer will have to pay for this for years.  It does not mean less means more cost, more people, more cars and more high-rise. 

Is this what you want?


Brisbane Times Article July 20 2017

 'Rail or fail': Sunshine Coast levy increases as light rail plan progresses

By Cameron Atfield

Sunshine Coast ratepayers will have to shell out an additional $15 a year as the city adopts a "rail or fail" plan that would emulate the Gold Coast's light rail. With its population expected to grow to 560,000 by 2041, light rail for the growing region has been identified as a future "backbone" to the Sunshine Coast's public transport system.

Sunshine Coast Council endorsed the increase in the annual transport levy, which would bring it to $42 a year, at its meeting on Thursday. The increase to the levy would add about $2 million to the council's Transport Futures Fund coffers.  A $15 increase to the council's transport levy will help fund the Sunshine Coast light rail project.

The council's transport portfolio councillor Rick Baberowski said the TFF would focus on delivering the Sunshine Coast light rail project, which was hoped to be up and running between Maroochydore and Caloundra within a decade.

"We have 200,000 new residents coming here over the next 20 years and we are making a very serious commitment to light rail," he said.   "Providing public transport and the major infrastructure it requires is a state and federal government responsibility and we need them to step up to join council in finding solutions to cope with our growth.

"Through the Transport Futures Fund, we will be putting a contribution on the table as tangible evidence of council's support for light rail – its planning and implementation.   "We are no less of a priority than other regions experiencing sizeable growth.  "We should not be left behind. It is at the point where it is rail or fail."

Cr Baberowski said the levy would raise about $5.7 million this year, which would take the TFF to about $9 million.

That would primarily cover planning, as the project itself would be too ambitious to the council to pursue alone.

For example, the initial 13-kilometre section of the Gold Coast's light rail system, G:Link, cost an estimated $1.6 billion.

Don't Let them Make us another Gold Coast

Futures fund.jpg

Mtag - Mass Transit Action Group is a volunteer Community Group