Car-dependent Gold Coast faces public transport ‘pivot point’ amid increasing congestion

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Residents of the Gold Coast are warned that “it is not possible” to maintain the region’s current dependence on cars, with congestion set to double over the next decade.

A COVID-induced migration boom has fueled an already rapidly growing population on the Gold Coast, creating problems in the process.

This week, Mayor Tom Tate said the Gold Coast’s population could reach one million by 2036, five years ahead of schedule.

In response, the council has started to develop a new transportation strategy that will set the framework for how its residents get from point A to point B.

But there is a catch: the city’s dependence on cars.

According to the council’s current transit strategy, each new resident adds 3.1 car trips per day to total trips and “if current levels of car dependency continue, this population growth could double. of car trips on our road network by 2031 ”.

In addition, each car only carries an average of 1.1 people during rush hour.

The use of public transport between 2011 and 2016 was between 3.1 and 4.7 percent, with a target to reach 12 percent by 2031.

Behavior must change

According to Professor Matthew Burke of the Transport Research Group at Griffith University, the cars “have been integrated into the system”, but “it is not possible to maintain [the] the current emphasis on private car use ”.

The M1 provides a crucial transport link between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“Even just to go to the beach; the idea that we will do it as a single person in a private car as we have more and more people trying to get to the same places – we just can’t do it. do, “he said.

Professor Burke said the Gold Coast was “no longer a teenage town” with a growing population of around 640,000, making the congestion “pretty serious”.

“You can just smell it, you know this congestion if you are coming from the north for example on the highway,” he said.

Light Rail on the Gold Coast
The light rail should be extended south to Coolangatta Airport.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

He said the tram as an alternative mode was “the most spectacularly boring success story in Australian public transport”.

“The increase in the value of land has been spectacular around her; the type of redevelopment opportunities that have been generated have been fantastic. “

The east-west problem

The council’s public transport strategy emphasizes the coastal corridor and that “more transurban services” are needed to support growth in the outer suburbs.

“Some suburbs are heavily dependent on the car due to their location … in these areas it can be difficult to provide direct and frequent public transport services in a cost effective manner,” the strategy says.

The harsh criticism of the city’s 62 bus lines was evident on ABC Gold Coast’s Facebook.

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Kei in Oxenford said “public transport is just not well connected to the outer suburbs”.

Shannon said public transportation along the Gold Coast Highway was “pretty good” but “if you want to go elsewhere on the Gold Coast don’t even bother with the bus, it will take too long”.

Gold Coast City Council has committed $ 11 million to subsidize new bus lines in the north, while a $ 600,000 study will look at connecting more public transport links between the service. light rail and the western suburbs.

View of Hope Island, from Coomera
Housing developments have proliferated in the north of the Gold Coast with little public transport.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Professor Burke said east-west links are “not great” but improving.

“We are at a key pivotal point,” he said.

“It will take decades to build a good alternative to the car for public transport, especially on these east-west links.”

“Uncommon, indirect, unknown”

Wayne Purcell was previously an environmental officer at the Department of Major Roads and Transportation, but now runs an active Facebook group criticizing the Gold Coast’s development issues.

He said the bus routes were “infrequent”, “indirect” and “unknown”.

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“It’s very hard for the government to say ‘guys why don’t you use public transport’ when you look at what they are up to,” he said.

He said the transportation interests of residents of the outer suburbs have not been adequately represented in most public discussions.

“With the government framing it around a coastal spine, people keep looking and saying ‘this has nothing to do with me’,” he said.

bridge over water
A second bridge could be built over the Tallebudgera stream to facilitate the light rail.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“If all they see in public transport is the light rail on the Gold Coast Highway, then their attitude would be ‘we need better road improvements to reduce congestion so I can keep driving my car.’ “

TransLink has been contacted for comment.

The mayor wants to speed up

Mr Tate said the Gold Coast’s role in the 2032 Olympics means major infrastructure projects are expected to be brought forward “within five years”.

“This means you speed up the fourth stage of the tram to Coolangatta, [while the] the east-west connection should happen at the same time, ”he said.

man standing looking to his right
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate wants light rail expansion plans to be accelerated.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Professor Burke said reducing car dependency will require a mix of technologies, including cycling, electric mobility like scooters, self-driving buses and on-demand transport.

“There is hope, but we must remember that there are still important tasks to be done and one of them is also to bring the heavy rail down to the airport”, said he declared.

A doctoral fellowship run by the Griffith University Transportation Research Group was funded by the City of Gold Coast.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Main Roads said the study on east-west bus routes “would consider options to improve east-west connections between heavy rail and light rail and improve the reliability of trains. public transport”.

“Some of the initial corridors identified for the survey include Broadbeach in Nerang, Broadbeach in Robina, Nobbys Beach in Robina and Burleigh Heads in Varsity Lakes.

“Before the impacts of COVID-19, buses made more than 14 million trips per year on the Gold Coast.”


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