Thousands say yes to free buses during holiday peak
  • Friday 05 February 2010

Almost 85,000 people embraced the Sunshine Coast Council’s Free Holiday Buses initiative aimed at easing traffic congestion and parking problems in key locations between Boxing Day and Sunday, January 3.

Sunshine Coast Council’s Integrated Transport Portfolio holder, Councillor Vivien Griffin, said the Free Holiday Buses were only one element of council’s overall sustainable transport strategy, which would deliver year-round transport improvements to our communities.

Council, in partnership with TransLink, provided free buses on Route 600 (Maroochydore to Caloundra). Council and TransLink also partnered with Tourism Noosa to provide free bus services on most routes around Noosa.

“The initiative aimed to take cars off our busiest roads by providing an easy alternative for residents and visitors heading to the beach, shops or many of the other popular destinations along the routes,” Cr Griffin said.

“Almost 85,000 people – over 17,000 passengers more than the previous year – used the free services.

“The number of passengers, and their feedback, are excellent indications that the initiative succeeded in significantly reducing the traffic-congestion and parking problems we might otherwise have seen. It is estimated that the free buses took over 15,300 car trips off the busy road.”

Additional New Year’s Eve services on the route 600 jointly funded by TransLink and the council, under council’s Public Transport Levy, provided hassle-free transport for families attending the celebrations at Mooloolaba. A spokesperson for Sunbus said that the services ran smoothly and transported people to and from the busy Mooloolaba precinct until 3:30am. Local police and on-board security guards assisted in ensuring a safe journey for New Year’s Eve revellers.

While two of the Noosa services were slightly down in numbers, the remaining five Noosa services were up between seven per cent and 64 per cent on last year. The new trial of a free service for the buses on Route 600 – Maroochydore to Caloundra – saw a 56 per cent increase in passenger numbers from the same period last year. This percentage equates to about 12,000 additional passengers for the period, or 563 vehicle trips per day between Maroochydore and Caloundra.

Further evidence of the success of the trial is shown by the total traffic flow which was reduced by about 5.5 per cent for movements into Mooloolaba and about eight per cent for movement out of Mooloolaba, on the roads surveyed during the trial period.

Council is now considering free holiday bus services in Noosa over the Easter long weekend. It will also evaluate the viability of continuing the free route 600 services (Maroochydore to Caloundra) under the Public Transport Levy.
Cr Griffin said Council was also planning broader initiatives including a new bus service linking Beerwah and Landsborough, and a ‘Council Cabs’ service for frail aged and disabled.

Statistics and passenger numbers from the Free Holiday Buses initiative
(Boxing Day 2009 to Sunday, January 3, 2010)

Route Number Increase/Decrease percentage from same period in 2008/09
600 Caloundra to Maroochydore 56.4%
626 Sunrise Beach to St Andrews Drive 7.1%
627 Sunshine Beach to Tewantin 8.7%
628 Noosa Heads to Noosa Parklands 38.1%
629 Noosa National Park to Tewantin 28.2%
632 Noosa Heads to Cooran, via Pomona -26.7%
064 Peregian Beach to Noosa Heads -31%
065 Cooyar Street park ‘n’ ride to Tewantin 64.7%

  • 35,596 passengers on Route 600
  • 49,383 passengers on Noosa services

Feedback from surveys:

508 surveys carried out at four locations across the Sunshine Coast:
75 per cent of respondents were Sunshine Coast residents

  • 38 per cent of respondents caught the Free Holiday Buses for recreational purposes
  • 38 per cent of respondents caught the Free Holiday Buses for shopping purposes
  • 58 per cent of respondents had access to a car, but chose to catch the Free Holiday Buses
  • 74 per cent of respondents were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with their journey
  • 84 per cent of respondents indicated that they would catch the bus after the Free Holiday Buses end
  • A strong majority of respondents provided positive feedback in support of the free holiday buses.