Now renamed to Sunshine Coast Public Transport Project (SCPT)
What is Mass Transit
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) has been working on a public transport plan they call "Mass Transit" for a number of years. On April 28th 2021, they released their "The Draft Options Analysis Report". This report showed a public transport Masterplan that deemed the 13.6km coastal corridor from Maroochydore to Birtinya as the first public transport priority for the Sunshine Coast. Operational by 2027. It looked at numerous public transport options for this corridor but recommended only 5 options:
Quality Bus Corridor,
Bus Rapid Transit,
Light Rail Transit, (with overhead wires and fixed steel tracks)
Trackless Tram and
Wire free Light Rail.
Light Rail was rated the best performing option.
Images of the Gold Coast Light Rail
Mass Transit 13.6km route and potential high-rise development
The draft report also referenced the need to significantly increase the population density along the coastal corridor. (see New Planning Scheme more details) A major selection criteria for the 5 options was 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 were not chosen because they were 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) were deemed to be further down the priority list with no timeframe for implementation.
What is the 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 "Draft Options Analysis" late 2020.
Draft Options Analysis Report released April 28 2021
8 week community consultation conducted April 28- June 22 2021 (Majority of Community feedback was ignored)
Final Options Analysis report was presented to Council October 21, 2021 where Council voted (6-5) to progress it to the Queensland State Government for the final stage, the Detailed Business Case
Detailed Business Case:
Currently in progress by the Queensland State Government.
Project renamed to the Sunshine Coast Public Transport Project.
Completion pushed out to mid 2024.
Estimated cost $15 milion
Where are we in the Process?
On 20 October 2021, 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 (DTMR) 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 DTMR. It was estimated it would be completed by mid to end of 2023.
Since then the following has occured:
1. $5m of funding has been provided by the Federal Government reducing SCRC and TMR's commitment to $5million each.
2. The Memorandum of Understanding between TMR and the SCRC was finally signed in March 2023.
3. TMR has expanded the project and renamed it "Sunshine Coast Public Transport" (SCPT) Project
4. TMR conducted their own public consultation on their 'Draft Southern Sunshine Coast Public Transport Strategy", in March 2022.
5. TMR are simultaneously running a $6million study looking at the Camcos Corridor, Beewah to Maroochydore (Sunshine Coast Direct Rail Line), expected to be complete end of 2023.
6. TMR has retained external consultants to complete Detailed Business Cases for:
a) Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Project (, (Due for completion mid 2024) and
b) Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line. (Due for Completion October 2023)
7. TMR ran public consultation on 4 of their key transport projects for the Sunshine Coast region in August 2023. These projects were:
Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line
Sunshine Coast Public Transport Project (Previously Light Rail)
Mooloola River Interchange
8. TMR announced in mid 2023 they would form community Stakeholder Interest Groups (SIG) to sit across all public transport projects currently under investigation on the Sunshine Coast. They stated the primary objectives of the SIG's were to:
share local knowledge between community stakeholders and TMR and project teams
Test ideas and appproaches and act as a "sounding board" for the project teams
encourage the development of a collegiate and coaperative relationship between TMR and stakeholders to understand issues that affect the community.
act as a conduit to the broader community to share information and generate understanding about the projects within the terms of SIG's.
MTAG has been appointed to the SIG and attended the first meeting held in September 2023. How much influence the SIG will have into the two business cases currently under review is questionable as each business case is now at an advanced stage of completion.
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. It is our understanding DTMR are now running both projects but with input from the SCRC.
MTAG has been advised that the SCPT project is 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 mid 2024. Implementation timing after that is unknown.
Shaded area represents potential high-rise development
Red line is the mass transit route
Source: PWC Preliminary Business Case Interim Findings Jan 2020 P 13
Why does SCRC 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
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. Over $12 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.
The SCRC, the QSG and the Federal Government have committed $5 million each ($15million) for the completion of stage 3, The Detailed Business Case.
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 = $27 million
Implementiation cost =$2+ billion
Cr Joe Natoli explains Mass Transit and Increased Density in simple terms.
Watch Cr Joe Natoli's share his thoughts as he rides the Light Rail on the Gold Coast
This is happening on the Gold Coast Now!
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.