Friday 20th Sep, 2019

Gold Coast third stage greenlit by IA

Tram stopped at Southport South on the Gold Coast Light Rail. Photo: Creative Commons / David Ansen
Photo: Creative Commons / David Ansen

Infrastructure Australia has added Stage 3A of the Gold Coast Light Rail Project to its Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project, recommending it for a significant funding commitment from the federal government.

Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A was one of four projects recently added to the independent advisor’s list of recommended projects/

The state government has committed $351 million to the $709 million project. The federal government has so far committed $112 million, but the state has called for it to bump that number up to $269 million – 38 per cent of the overall cost; the same share the federal government provided for Stage 1 of light rail on the Gold Coast.

Infrastructure Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said the project would address the dual challenges of population growth and high levels of car dependency on the Gold Coast.

“With 88 per cent of trips currently by private vehicle and less than 5 per cent by public transport, urban congestion is a major challenge and this is expected to worsen as the Gold Coast’s population grows by an estimated 55 per cent to 928,000 people by 2041,” Madew said.

While it supported the project in general, Infrastructure Australia did urge the state government and the City of Gold Coast to address concerns the planned route for Stage 3A is not likely to have as much natural demand as earlier sections.

“Proactive steps … are needed to encourage people to use Stage 3A of the Gold Coast Light Rail, which runs through a less densely populated [area] and has fewer activity centres than Stage 1 and Stage 2,” Madew said. “Examples of such steps include mode shift and traffic management strategies which highlight the fact that light rail will be more reliable and comfortable for passengers than the existing bus services.”

Infrastructure Australia found the overall benefits of Stage 3A to be close to the costs, with a benefit-cost ratio of 1.1 using a 7 per cent real discount rate – meaning $1.10 of return for every $1 invested.

To ensure value for money, Infrastructure Australia highlighted two key factors: land use changes to increase density and promote urban renewal, and encouraging more residents to leave the car at home and use light rail instead.

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