- Thursday 20 July 2017
The delivery of a light rail solution to help the Sunshine Coast’s growing public transport demands has taken a step forward with council’s endorsement of the 2017-18 Transport Levy Program.
Sunshine Coast Council Transport Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said the $15 increase in the annual Transport Levy would go directly towards building the Transport Futures Fund to focus on delivering the Sunshine Coast Light Rail Project.
“The focus of our Transport Levy is now very much on infrastructure and I think the community needs to understand why,” Cr Baberowski said.
“We have 200,000 new residents coming here over the next 20 years and we are making a very serious commitment to light rail.
“Providing public transport and the major infrastructure it requires is a State and Federal government responsibility and we need them to step up to join council in finding solutions to cope with our growth.
“Through the Transport Futures Fund we will be putting a contribution on the table as tangible evidence of council’s support for light rail – its planning and implementation.
“We are no less of a priority than other regions experiencing sizeable growth.
“We should not be left behind.
“It is at the point where it is rail or fail.”
Since its introduction, the annual Transport Levy funds, which are contributed by all ratepayers, have increased council’s ability to achieve long-term transport outcomes for the Sunshine Coast.
This year the Transport Levy will move to $42, raising an estimated $5.7 million, taking the Transport Futures Fund to an estimated $9 million.
“Through the levy, we are investing in projects that wouldn’t otherwise be possible,” Cr Baberowski said.
“Advancing investigations to bring forward beneficial public transport outcomes on the Sunshine Coast is a key focus for the levy.
“We will be maintaining a vigorous advocacy approach with the State to securing an effective, integrated public transport solution for the region.”
Cr Baberowski said he was pleased with the program’s achievements to date.
“The Transport Levy report helps the community understand exactly how and where council is investing levy funds and demonstrates we are doing some outstanding things for our community in the transport space,” Cr Baberowski said.
“I am very proud of the levy’s achievements so far, in particular, improvements to the Sunshine Coast’s strategic transport network and programs to support local users.
“In partnership with ComLink, council will continue to fund the popular Council Link transport service for eligible residents.
“This service for residents aged 60 and over, people with a disability or mobility impairment and their accompanying carers and minors is affordable at just $2 each way.
“The service provides passengers easy transport between their home and their local shopping centre and is essential for our residents, connecting them with their communities and reducing social isolation.
“The Council Link program has shown steady growth. In fact, in the 2016-2017 year, ComLink provided 12,322 trips, servicing 85 suburbs across the Sunshine Coast and travelling 82,365km.
“That’s allowed a lot of residents to remain connected with their community.”