Business case process
  • Last updated:
  • 26 Aug 2020

The Queensland Government is responsible for public transport, but council has been leading the preliminary planning for mass transit because the ability of the Sunshine Coast to effectively manage growth and maintain its quality of life will in part depend upon the establishment of a more sustainable movement network.

Proactive infrastructure planning is essential to ensure expensive, retrospective infrastructure solutions to service emerging communities are avoided as early provision for a public transport network is critical to support our growing population.

Queensland Government will be responsible for the detailed planning, delivery of, and the majority of funding for, the mass transit solution.  We were fortunate to secure agreement from the Hon the Premier and Transport Minister in May 2019 that the State will take over the next phase.  Council will work in partnership with Queensland Government.

Building Queensland has been established under the Building Queensland Act 2015 to provide independent expert advice to the Queensland Government about infrastructure projects. 

Building Queensland's Business Case Development Framework enhances the way in which infrastructure proposals are assessed in Queensland. 

The Business Case Development Framework requires the following documents: 

  • Strategic Business Case (SBC)
  • Options Analysis (OA)
  • Detailed Business Case (DBC).

All three phases of the business case process need to be completed for the mass transit project to be considered for funding from the Queensland and Commonwealth governments. 

Council has started the three-staged business case planning process that will lead to a viable transport system solution. 

Stage 1 - Mass Transit Strategic Business Case

A strategic business case is the first major step in building a case to encourage and secure Queensland and Commonwealth Government investment.  The Sunshine Coast Mass Transit strategic business case [6518KB] was endorsed by council in 2019.

The strategic business case demonstrated that a mass transit system needs to cover the most urbanised parts of the region and connect to the North Coast Rail Line at Beerwah. It also showed that a major infrastructure investment like this will need to be delivered in stages.

The strategic business case found 74 per cent of all our trips are local and under 10 kilometres in length, so the first stage needs to be addressed to focus on these trips. A better integrated and more convenient public transport system would cater for many of those local trips, and reduce the growth in private vehicle movements. To do that, public transport has to be reliable, frequent, easy to understand and use – so people choose it over car travel. The business case indicates the logical first stage of the new system would be from Maroochydore to Kawana, via the coastal corridor through Mooloolaba and Birtinya.

The strategic business case has highlighted that achieving the aspirations and maintaining the livability of our region will require a multi-faceted approach which includes:

  • a major improvement to mass transit to provide an integrated network to connect the major activity centres with where people live and link this to Brisbane
  • containment of urban sprawl within the existing Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor. A coordinated strategy to accelerate urban consolidation and infill development that encourages the majority of development and population growth in the existing urban corridor in order to reduce car dependency and the amount of travel required
  • an ongoing program to boost local employment and industry development in areas close to the mass transit solution, to enable residents to live closer and have better access to where they work.

Stage 2 - Mass Transit Options Analysis 

Council is currently in the second phase, an options analysis. 

While past studies undertaken by council and widespread community engagement activities in 2012, 2014 and 2018 have suggested light rail is the best mass transit solution for local travel, this is being looked at again, along with other mass transit options as part of the next options analysis phase.

Previous extensive consultation undertaken on the light rail route by council in 2014 informed a decision to designate a preferred route for future investigation that includes a route along Aerodrome Road in Maroochydore, Alexandra Parade at Alexandra Headland, Brisbane Road, Nicklin Way, Main Drive and Kawana Way. This is the route that has been adopted for the options analysis phase for the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Project. 

Options Analysis Interim Findings Report  (formerly known as Preliminary Business Case)

A progress report on the options analysis for a mass transit system for the Sunshine Coast was considered by council at its January 2020 ordinary meeting. 

The progress report confirms the first stage of a mass transit solution should run from Maroochydore to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, as this addresses the greatest amount of forecast congestion, supports business consolidation in key commercial centres and provides a strong incentive for urban renewal in the Sunshine Coast Urban Corridor.

Independent consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) proposes 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

A project update will be provided at the Special Meeting on 27 August 2020 and this will include the core principles of the community engagement plan for the remainder of this time, while planning for this project remains with council.

Completion of the options analysis will be an important milestone in the process to secure project funding, as it provides an initial assessment of the costs and benefits of the project.

If council endorses the Options Analysis, it will be transmitted to the Queensland and Commonwealth governments for their review.  

Stage 3 - Mass Transit Detailed Business Case

Pending Queensland Government review, the next phase of the business case process is for council to join forces with the Queensland Government to prepare the detailed business case, which will also involve extensive community consultation, once the detail of proposals is more developed.  

The urban transformation components of the mass transit project are intrinsic to achieve sustainable transport and urban development outcomes in a fast growing region.

The detail of urban transformation (including discussion about built form and height) will be developed with community input over the next few years as part of the options analysis and detailed business case development.  

It’s important to note that under council’s plan, urban transformation will be focused on areas close to the mass transit stations that have the potential to be renewed, rather than existing high quality residential areas.  Importantly, the form, scale and function of that urban transformation close to mass transit stations is yet to be considered in detail.

Further community input will be vital to progress the mass transit project, once we know the project is viable. The program for the detailed business case phase will map out the timeline for community consultation. 

The detailed business case will narrow the options down to a preferred project design and the community will be invited to provide feedback on their preferred option in 2021.