Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Plan
Our Position Statement
This statement is our formal response to the Sunshine Coast Regional Council's mass transit proposal, as outlined in the SCMT Draft Options Analysis (April 2021).
Friends of Buddina believe that the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Draft Options Analysis report, in its current form, should NOT progress to the next stage of formalising the Business Case. The underlying assumptions of the recommendations in the report need to be reconsidered and amended.
Friends of Buddina believe that we need an integrated transport system with suitable infrastructure; a transport solution that provides region-wide connectivity as the highest priority. We believe the transport system should be modern, efficient, economically and environmentally sustainable with flexible, demand-driven routes, which are delivered east-west and north-south.
With a connectivity priority, the transport system must connect current residents in existing residential locations with locations of key industry employers and service providers, noting that employment and service locations do not necessarily correlate to residential location, hence the connectivity priority.
The transport system should NOT be reliant and justified on future population densification in locations yet to be approved in future planning scheme amendments. The current 2014 Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme (as updated), combined with the current PDA for the Maroochydore CBD, are noted as having sufficient capacity to accommodate projected Sunshine Coast population and dwellings increase beyond the amendment opportunities in 2024 and 2034, which will be subject to community consultation.
Rationale for Non-Acceptance of this version of the SC Mass Transit proposal
Friends of Buddina believe that Council's preferred options are the WRONG MODES along the WRONG ROUTE with an unacceptable weighting bias on ‘land use’ densification: Light Rail, Wireless Light Rail, Bus Rapid Transit, Trackless Trams and the Quality Bus Corridor along the 13.6km route.
Each of these options FAIL to provide:
a region-wide connectivity-driven system as a priority;
economically sustainable, flexible modes that can alternate routes based on flexibility of demand-driven route alternatives;
alternative routes that resolve existing short-falls east-west and north-south;
alternative transport modes without pre-requisite intensification of /development;
alternative options for /development within existing capacity in the SCPS and PDA’s;
adequate analysis information based on current costs and risk (transparency);
the ability to “maintain and enhance” the environmental impacts of development on the sensitive, fragile habitat of endangered species (in particular turtle nesting habitat);
the ability to “maintain and enhance” the amenity and for residents who live in along the proposed route.
Overall, this mass transit proposal falls short of what the Sunshine Coast needs in a transport plan. Accordingly, the Draft Options Analysis Report, with its current recommendations, should NOT progress to the next stage of formalising the Business Case.
Mass Transit Project overview
1. Good public transport is not something that simply materialises by magic when only the urban density is high enough: it must be explicitly planned and funded by State and Federal governments.
2. Where public transport is of poor quality and unattractive, building up the urban density does not make it any more attractive – nor any more financially self-supporting.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council are proposing a Mass Transit Plan for the beach corridor from Maroochydore to Kawana. In all documentation prior to the community consultation process, their preferred option was Light Rail and they have now added other similar options (Wireless Light Rail, Bus Rapid Transit, Trackless Trams and Quality Bus Corridor) which also support "land use" development for this 13.6km coastal corridor. Cost estimates vary and we know the current funding for the Gold Coast stage 3 Light Rail is $155.4million per km which as as indicative, relevant example, Light Rail along our 13.6km coastal corridor is likely to be no less than $2.1billion and more likely to increase to a much higher cost to be funded.
It is noteworthy that Council have excluded options such as "green" (non-fossil fuelled), smaller, environmentally friendly buses with network upgrades to provide an agile bus fleet with additional routes and route flexibility as the population increases and opportunities for future transition and adaptation to autonomous/on demand options. This option was disregarded in Council's report, perhaps because it does not provide the "land use" height and density increases for development opportunities along the coastal corridor.
To be financially viable, Council's preferred options, such as Light Rail, require much higher housing densities, including high-rise buildings, along the 13.6km route within the coastal corridor.
For Minyama, Buddina, Warana and Bokarina, Council are proposing their Light Rail system to run along the centre of Nicklin Way, resulting in
loss of at least 2 motor vehicle lanes to make way for a system of dedicated tracks (train, tram or busway)
loss of the green strip in the centre along Nicklin Way
loss of parking lanes along Nicklin Way
higher housing densities with multi-storey apartment buildings replacing residential houses, loss of green space per dwelling and planned for 400m along either side of the road in all directions.
Red line is Proposed Light Rail (or similar)
Shaded area is where housing rezoning for units is likely
Rezoning from low-rise to higher densities
The plan is to rezone the existing residential housing up to multiple times what is currently there now. This rezoning will be a combination of medium and high density multi-storey buildings. Council call this "land use" improvement.
The Light Rail (or similar option) is proposed to run for 13.6km from the new Maroochydore CBD to the Sunshine Coast Hospital precinct at Birtinya. There are to be 16 stations. Council have indicated they plan to densify more heavily around the stations with 4-6 storeys and some 8 storey buildings.
This has a significant impact on Buddina and Warana with multiple dedicated stations, resumptions and high density multi-storey buildings. Therefore, the current low rise, low density residential housing that exists today is likely to be rezoned to much higher-density development, including residential and tourist accommodation.
Listen to the noise of the Gold Coast light rail
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About the Mass Transit Project - the facts
Get involved - what you can do? HAVE YOUR SAY
Public consultation opportunities to participate expired on 22 June. Residents were invited to HAVE YOUR SAY by completing the Survey (online or paper-based) and/or by making a Submission (online or paper-based).
Friends of Buddina have always supported "green" (non-fossil fuelled), smaller, environmentally friendly buses with network upgrades to provide an agile bus fleet with additional routes and route flexibility as the population increases and opportunities for future transition and adaptation to autonomous/on demand options.
With a connectivity priority, an alternative "smart green bus system" serving east-west, north-south with improved services and links to rail services provide connectivity to/from the rest of the State.
Friends of Buddina also note there are opportunities to increase densities around the future town centres of the greenfield sites and in the CBD to cater for future population growth beyond capacity in the current Planning Scheme.
Friends of Buddina are concerned that Council's preferred options are coupled with, and inseparable from, intensified development opportunities for multi-storey apartment buildings along the 13.6km route. The Mass Transit route replicates an existing bus route (#611). Replacement with Light Rail (or similar) at funding costs in excess of $2billion has little to do with an appropriate region-wide public transport solution for the whole of the community. Should this "urban renewal / infill / land use change" project, under the guise of a mass transit project, then residents will have no real say in the outcomes of the higher densities. We will be faced with more inappropriate, over-development of our beachside suburbs - akin to the Gold Coast.