Special meeting to discuss future of mass transit
  • Wednesday 29 September 2021

Convenient and easy-to-access public transport systems to move people efficiently between Maroochydore and Kawana and, eventually, Caloundra, will be considered by Sunshine Coast Council at a Special Meeting on Wednesday, October 20.

From today, the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Options Analysis, which has been informed by community feedback and includes the summary engagement report prepared by Articulous, will be published on council’s website.

Councillors will be considering whether to endorse the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Options Analysis for referral to the State Government for further investigation, given that level of government is ultimately responsible for the public transport network – the infrastructure, the rolling stock, the ticketing and pricing; and referral to Infrastructure Australia.

Importantly, councillors are not being asked to vote for a preferred option or options; the final route; committing to any investment or funding decision relating to a potential mass transit solution; or committing to, or progressing, any amendments to the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014.

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.

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.

The community is invited to watch the Council Meeting live-stream and read the meeting report via council’s website.

Council meetings and documents are published here: https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Council/Council-Meetings/Meetings-Minutes-and-Agendas.

Visit council’s website for information about the mass transit project and sign up today to receive future project updates.

Background for journalists:

Community engagement 28 April-22 June 2021:

The following community engagement activities were undertaken:

  • 19 pop-up events
  • 4 virtual reality sessions
  • 2 community round tables that included representative groups, aged care, youth, business, and accessibility groups
  • a special presentation to Council and State Government Officers by MTAG, the Beach Matters Group and OSCAR on their views
  • an Intergenerational Forum that brought together a wide range of interests from across all generations
  • an Enquiry-By-Design workshop
  • an online survey.

In addition to community engagement sessions, council officers also presented at:

  • 5 schools
  • 19 community and stakeholder briefings

Project notes:

The mass transit project, which is currently in the options analysis phase of the business case process, is considering a wide range of mass transit options, as an important part of a coordinated approach to moving our community around.

Public transport is a state government responsibility. Council has an important role to play in doing the planning work to encourage the necessary investment by the relevant governments.


Answers to frequently asked questions

Q: What is the rationale behind holding a Special Meeting rather than an Ordinary Meeting?

A: To allow more time for council to discuss and debate the finalised Options Analysis report and the engagement summary report.

Q: How has the community’s feedback been incorporated into the finalised Options Analysis Report?

A: The outcomes of the extensive engagement process informed the finalisation of the Options Analysis report, the content of which was amended, expanded, or qualified to the extent that the results of the engagement process provides a clear basis for doing so.

For example, a new chapter was added (Chapter 15 - Public Interest Statement) and amendments were made to Chapter 7 (Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Master Plan), Chapter 14 (Social and Environmental Impacts) and the recommendations.  An extra 50 pages has been added to the report following the extensive community consultation process.

Q: Subject to council’s consideration, the finalised Options Analysis report will be provided to the State and Commonwealth Governments as the basis for the preparation of the Detailed Business Case. How quickly do we anticipate this happening post council’s Special Meeting?

A: Subject to council’s consideration, the finalised Options Analysis report will be provided to the State and Commonwealth Governments as the basis for the preparation of the Detailed Business Case in the month following council’s endorsement.  

Q: Will council have any control of the outcome of the Detailed Business Case?

A: While council won’t make the final decision on the technology chosen, by key partnering with the State Government’s Department of Transport and Main Roads in preparing the Detailed Business Case, we can ensure our community’s interests are considered. Council is contributing towards the cost of the Detailed Business Case and will have a seat at the table, ensuring we are a partner in the process.

Q: When will the State Government start reviewing the Options Analysis?

A: It is anticipated that the State Government would start reviewing the Options Analysis as soon as it receives it. The preparation of the Detailed Business Case is anticipated to get underway in early 2022.

Q: Will the finalised Options Analysis Report be made public?

A: It is attached to the agenda report  and may need to be updated following council’s decision and/or endorsement. The project website will then be updated to include the ‘approved’ Options Analysis and Engagement Report.

Q: How many options will be included in the Options Analysis Report?

A: At this stage the Options Analysis Report, still to be endorsed by council, is recommending five options proceed to the Detailed Business Case stage, noting the community’s particular concerns with Light Rail Technology with overhead wires.

Q: Why is light rail technology with overhead wires included?

A: Light rail with overhead wires is still the most reliable and well proven technology and is the most energy efficient option. If, and when, considered more fully in the Detailed Business Case, it’s possible that the light rail system could be evaluated as a hybrid solution, with wires in some places and without wires where visual amenity is an overriding consideration.

Q: Why can’t we just have more buses?

A: The community engagement process made it clear our community requires frequent, reliable, and convenient public transport. The recommendations include a range of options that meet this brief. The ‘bus service enhancement option’ was assessed in the Options Analysis but scored poorly in comparison to other options. Research shows that, around the world, a bus public transport system on its own does not provide the most effective service. People want to know exactly where the transport system is going. The route needs to be very clear.

Q: Why do we need a local mass transit system in the urban corridor from Maroochydore to Caloundra if regional rail in the CAMCOS corridor will do the same job?

A:  We are in a fortunate position in that only 5% of Sunshine Coast residents with a job travel to work in Brisbane. It makes sense to service the high number of local employees – the 78% of Sunshine Coast workers who have a job here – with a quality local public transport system.

Council agrees that that regional rail in the CAMCOS corridor would perform an important role linking the Maroochydore City Centre to Brisbane. However, it will have only a few stations spaced kilometres apart, located too far from the majority of residents. It would not be able to effectively meet the demand for the majority of local public transport trips in the urban corridor between Kawana and Maroochydore.

By comparison, a local mass transit system would have many stations located closer to where more people live, work and play and link the key places along the urban corridor.

Under this Options Analysis, council does not prioritise mass transit over CAMCOS. They are considered to be of equivalent importance, are complementary and serve two very different purposes.

The Strategic Business Case and the Options Analysis propose the master plan as the long-term solution which intends to:.

  • Continue the upgrade of the North Coast heavy rail line
  • Deliver CAMCOS
  • Deliver Sunshine Coast Mass Transit
  • Deliver an improved bus network.

But it is not possible to deliver the entire master plan and that much infrastructure all at once. You have to start somewhere.  The urban corridor between Maroochydore to Kawana, to Sunshine Coast University Hospital, is the area where the need and the demand is greatest.

 A separate process of consideration for CAMCOS, which is a spur line off the north coast heavy rail line, is being undertaken by the State Government. Council looks forward to the State Government’s continued investigations into that important infrastructure.

Q: If endorsed by council, does that guarantee a mass transit system for the Sunshine Coast?

A: If the Options Analysis report is endorsed, it does not mean that a decision to build a Mass Transit system has been made. Further investigations and opportunities for community input will continue during the Detailed Business Case.

Q: If the endorsed by council, what will be the cost to ratepayers each year when a system is operating?

A: The Queensland Government would be responsible for all operating costs of any mass transit system.

Q: Is Council obliged to contribute to the construction cost?

A: Until this cost is known, following the Detailed Business Case, it is not possible to say. However, the Queensland Government would typically be responsible for the majority of the capital cost for any type of mass transit system. The Australian Government may also provide significant capital funding.

Project timeline:


Project milestone

2012, 2014, 2018

Previous community consultation in relation to transport policy, in particular, mass transit proposals

July 2019

Council endorsed a Strategic Business Case

January 2020

Progress Report on the Preliminary Business Case

Early 2020

Options Analysis Report underway

August 2020

Community engagement framework, endorsed by council

Early 2021

Community engagement specialist appointed

12 April 2021

Community engagement dates announced

28 April 2021

Options Analysis Report published

28 April– 22 June 2021

Community engagement

22 June 2021

Analysis of thousands of community submissions

29 September 2021

Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Options Analysis, informed by community feedback and including the summary engagement report, published

20 October 2021

Options Analysis Report with community engagement results to be considered by council