Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Project
  • Last updated:
  • 09 Aug 2020

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Mass transit update and PWC interim findings

Sunshine Coast Council has continued to build its case for the development of an integrated mass transit system to service the Sunshine Coast’s growing population. That work has been ongoing since 2012 and has included:

Community consultation [3442KB] was also undertaken on route options in 2014.

On 30 January council considered the progress report on the preliminary business case for a mass transit system for the Sunshine Coast. Read the full document as presented to council.

The strategic business case [6518KB] for mass transit was approved by council in 2019, and council is completing the next phase: a preliminary business case which is to be finalised by mid-2020.

On completion of the preliminary business case, council will set up a joint process with the Queensland Government to complete the final detailed business case by 2021 - this was announced by Premier, the Honourable Annastacia Palasczuk  on 8 May 2019. View a copy of the Premier’s media release.

Preliminary Business Case Interim Findings Report

Independent consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are preparing the preliminary business case for council, and they have submitted an interim findings report[1713KB], at the half way mark of the project. 

Key findings

  • The PwC Interim findings report shows that we are progressing, and that subject to funding, we can have the first stage of mass transit operational by 2026.
  • PwC have confirmed that a high quality, integrated public transport system is needed if the Sunshine Coast is to effectively address growing levels of road congestion, achieve urban consolidation and prevent urban sprawl, reduce the high dependency on private motor vehicle transport and support continued high levels of employment self-containment.
  • The first stage of a mass transit solution should run from Maroochydore City Centre to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, as this addresses the greatest amount of forecast congestion, supports the consolidation of business in the new city centre and provides a strong incentive for urban renewal in the Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor.
  • This is just the first stage of the mass transit solution for the region that was published in our Strategic Business Case in July 2019 (refer to Mass Transit Priorities below).

PwC proposed three options for stage one of the mass transit solution should be taken forward to full analysis of benefits and costs in the final preliminary business case:

  • An upgrade of bus lanes on the sides of the major roads with new specially branded buses to provide a 'Quality Bus Corridor'.
  • A bus rapid transit system much like light rail but with electric buses up to 25 metres long.
  • A light rail system with 45 metres long trams running in their own right of way mostly in the centre of the major roads.


Mass Transit - Light Rail Option


Mass Transit - Bus Rapid Transit Option

Detailed modelling of the effects of the light rail system on future land use and transport outcomes has been undertaken and the other two options are about to be modelled.  When completed this detailed modelling will enable the effects of all three options to be presented in the preliminary business case in mid-2020.

The PwC Interim Findings report is very encouraging in its findings for the light rail option. For example, the report finds that:

  • 31,000 passengers would use the light rail each day in 2041
  • with a light rail system in place, 8.8 % of journey-to-work trips would made by public transport in 2041, compared to only 1.5% of journey-to-work trips being made by public transport if a light rail system does not occur
  • within the immediate catchment of the light rail stations, 20,400 trips would be made by public transport in 2041, compared to only  5,100 trips on public transport in 2041 if there is no light rail system, meaning light rail would quadruple the use of public transport in the Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor by 2041
  • by 2041, an extra 20,000 residents would be attracted to live in the catchment of the light rail system, boosting the delivery of the urban consolidation outcomes envisaged by the Queensland Government’s  SEQ Regional Plan -  ShapingSEQ
  • with a light rail system in place, an 6,000 extra jobs would be attracted to the urban corridor by 2041.

Land use change findings

ShapingSEQ identifies an urban transformation corridor from Maroochydore to Caloundra, supported by a high frequency passenger transport service.  In the Strategic Business Case this is titled the “Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor” (refer to Map of Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor below).


Increased housing and employment growth in the Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor will only be achieved if the amenity, liveability, employment and lifestyle offering is demonstrated to be attractive to current and future residents.

New consolidated urban development in the Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor can be designed to create a low-key lifestyle city that maintains and enhances the Sunshine Coast’s valued character and identity through:

  • a series of urban villages containing a mix of uses in the mass transit corridor which focus on local community hubs connected to the major centres of Maroochydore, Kawana and Caloundra
  • providing for a range of desirable housing choices suitable for an affordable coastal oriented lifestyle
  • containing building height and site cover to deliver a built form that is consistent with a low-key approach to urbanisation, without excessive high-rise development
  • promoting climate friendly building design to reduce energy needs, capitalise on prevailing breezes, sun and shade
  • providing for renewable energy generation and water conservation and reuse as integral features of private and public buildings
  • delivering extensive native sub-tropical landscaping in streets and public spaces and on private properties.


Project timing

The provision of a mass transit system, such as light rail, is a long-term project that requires years of planning, and funding is primarily a Queensland Government responsibility, often in tandem with the Commonwealth. As a result, it is not possible to forecast when such a system might be delivered. Nevertheless, preservation of a corridor is a priority, to ensure project commencement as soon as possible after funds have been secured.