Independent and FREE - 2021 Best Online Publication

Coast split over mass transit as public feedback revealed

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Coast split over mass transit as public feedback revealed


Coast community split over mass transit project as council finally releases report

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After months of anticipation, the Sunshine Coast Council has finally released the results of public consultation on its proposed Mass Transit Project, and it appears to reveal a community divided.

A special meeting has also been called for October 20th when councillors will vote on whether to push ahead with the next stage in the process.

This follows a ‘mystery meeting’ that was due to be held a week ago being suddenly called off without explanation.

Late on Wednesday, council finally released its summary of the public feedback which has been added as an attachment to the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Options Analysis report.

The Options Analysis report was originally released in April to form the basis of eight weeks of public consultation, but now contains a 35-page SCMT Options Analysis Engagement Report summarising the community’s response.

Public consultation included 1,478 people engaged face-to-face at various pop-up events and roundtables and 3,894 unique completed surveys, the report says.

The summary reveals more people who took part in the feedback process were opposed to the five public transport options outlined, but there was no majority for or against (more than 50 per cent).

The five options outlined include bus rapid transit, high-quality bus corridor, trackless trams, light rail with wires, and wireless light rail.

“45% of respondents were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with all five options proceeding to the detailed business case,” the report states.

“46% of respondents were somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, however, a third of these respondents went on to express a positive sentiment to at least one of the mass transit options.”

However the report says some public feedback was skewed by higher participation among people aged over 50 who were more dissatisfied compared to those under 50.

“The majority of people under 50 years of age were satisfied that all five options should progress to a Detailed Business Case while the majority of people aged 51 years and over were dissatisfied,” the report stated.

Similarly younger people were in favour of development around mass transit nodes but over 50s wanted development spread throughout the urban corridor.

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The report says that some of the insights gleaned from talking to the community “may influence the finalisation” of the Options Analysis paper and some of those key points included:

  • Most people believe a good mass transit system is important for the Sunshine Coast (68%)
  • There is particular concern with the option of light rail with overhead wires
  • People want heavy rail to be pursued in parallel with mass transit ie. CAMCOS and extending the North Coast Rail Line, and better passenger rail to Brisbane should be a priority
  • Some people want extra routes for stage 1, such as Caloundra, however there are others concerned with the alignment of the route through Alexandra Headland

There was a strong emphasis on protecting the Coast’s amenity and beaches.

The report found there were some suburbs along the route where most people supported the five options but there were also suburbs where more people were unsatisfied.

“What people said during the engagement period was influenced by their age, geography, accessibility needs,” it stated.

“Older participants and participants who lived along the route generally felt more negatively about the proposed options than those who were younger, who lived away from the route and who had accessibility needs.”

The summary engagement report was prepared by Articulous and published on council’s website on Wednesday.

Council also issued a media release outlining the next phase in the process, explaining that the upcoming vote was not about choosing one of the five mass transit options, nor the route or funding.

The vote was to endorse the finalised Options Analysis report for referral to the state government which will then undertake a detailed business case.

“Further 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,” the council media statement said.

“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. 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.”

Watch the meeting and get more info