• Last updated:
  • 15 Sep 2022

The following list of Frequently Asked Questions seeks to address a broad range of questions concerning this project. Alternatively, you can download a copy of the FAQs document[55KB].

Mass transit is a convenient and easy-to-access public transport system which moves people efficiently.

A well-designed mass transit system reduces car usage, especially at peak times. Such a system could utilise:

  • buses, including articulated and double decker buses
  • trackless trams or light rail vehicles
  • passenger trains.

The Queensland Government is responsible for public transport services and infrastructure. However, council has taken a lead on planning for the Sunshine Coast’s transport future to ensure our community is well positioned to secure investment from the State and Commonwealth Governments to deliver a high-quality mass transit transport system that meets our community’s needs now and well into the future.

The draft Options Analysis report has identified five mass transit options to be further considered in the Detailed Business Case as the basis for obtaining State and Commonwealth funding for a mass transit system on the Sunshine Coast.

Each of the recommended options would offer frequent services provided by vehicles that utilise low emission technologies such as battery power. The recommended vehicles also have a continuous flat floor making it easy for prams, wheelchairs and other mobility aids to move throughout the vehicle.

The draft Options Analysis assessment also considered four non-mass transit options (bus service enhancements, bus network upgrades, road network upgrades and continuing with business as usual). The analysis determined that these options do not have the ability to respond to the identified problems and therefore will not be considered in the Detailed Business Case.

Sunshine Coast Council does not have a preferred transport option. We are seeking community feedback on your preferred options.

Council is currently undertaking community consultation which will run until late June 2021, feedback will be included in the Options Analysis Report. This process will shortlist the preferred options that are most suited to our local area and recommend that a detailed assessment of these options be undertaken in the next phase of the business case – the Detailed Business Case.

The Detailed Business Case phase will involve further consultation on the detail around the preferred option and if endorsed will confirm the best solution to be recommended for funding.

Bus rapid transit and light rail transit present the most reliable and efficient long-term options because they can operate at a higher frequency in their own right-of-way and mostly uninterrupted by traffic. The longer vehicles mean more people can be transported and the technology gives these vehicles right of way to ensure efficiency. The vehicles can also operate uninterrupted by traffic congestion, making them more reliable.

One transport solution alone will not solve our transport challenges, council has produced a strategic plan for a future public transport system to meet the needs of the Sunshine Coast. Mass transit is one part of this strategic plan that incorporates:

  • a new regional heavy passenger rail connection linking Beerwah to Caloundra Birtinya and Maroochydore along the CAMCOS corridor (suitable for traveling longer distances with less stops)
  • a new local mass transit system along the coastal corridor (suitable for traveling shorter distances with more stops)
  • an improved high frequency bus network connecting regional heavy rail and local mass transit to other key destinations such as the hinterland.

The heavy rail connection along the CAMCOS corridor would be suitable for travelling longer distances with limited stops, while the local mass transit system along the coastal corridor would enable travel along shorter distances with more stops that are close to employment nodes, facilities and services.

The integration of these systems will enable greater connection across the whole region to provide an efficient public transport option, making it easier and more convenient for people to choose sustainable public travel as an option.

Without sustainable transport options, the reliance on private vehicles will continue. Every trip made on public and active transport is a win for everyone, as it shifts people towards healthier, more efficient and sustainable choices, and leaves room on our current roads for freight, business and other trips that help to drive our economy.

If we only cater for traffic without shifting people to sustainable transport, by 2041 we will see up to 830,000 extra car trips on our roads each day. Without a solution, traffic congestion and lost productivity could cost the Sunshine Coast economy up to $3 billion a year by 2041.

Modern mass transit systems are well integrated with the local area and are designed to improve connections to and within nearby neighbourhoods, rather than create barriers to movement. They are typically complemented by streetscape upgrades that improve local amenity and promote quality urban outcomes.

The delivery of mass transit presents opportunities to improve safety and amenity in the areas it passes through. It can also support walkable communities through investment in active travel infrastructure to connect to stops and stations.

An efficient, electric mass transit system is much more efficient (on a per passenger emissions per kilometre basis) in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions than individuals driving in cars fueled by petrol or diesel.

Yes. The Strategic Business Case, completed in July 2019, recommends a staged approach to the implementation of a mass transit system.

Stage 1 connects from Maroochydore to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Birtinya. This section is being considered in the Options Analysis phase as it was determined to be most critical as it already experiences significant traffic congestion and has the greatest concentration of activities that would benefit from improved public transport.

Stage 2 is proposed to connect the Sunshine Coast University Hospital with Caloundra. It would also be integrated with other transport elements to provide a region-wide transport network that better meets the needs of everyone in the community.

Population growth is inevitable as more people choose to move to the Sunshine Coast to enjoy everything it has to offer. If we try to stop or cap growth, the cost of housing will escalate, business activity will stall, and our children will be unable to afford to live here or find work here.

We can’t stop growth, we need to manage and direct it in a way that maintains our community’s quality of life, and protects and preserves our beaches, hinterland and natural landscapes.

Naturally with growth, comes the need for governments to invest in more infrastructure to support the community, we must ensure these investments are sustainable, smart and healthy for our community and environment.

Growth will continue to occur in new communities such as Caloundra South and Palmview, which will be connected with efficient and reliable transport. However, accommodating further growth outside of these planned areas will result in a sprawling Sunshine Coast that will have an impact on the lifestyles of everyone in this region, consigning us to a future dominated by the car and the congestion that comes with it.

Sunshine Coast Council is responsible for planning the region’s future and managing growth in a sustainable way in accordance with the directions of ShapingSEQ (the Regional Plan for South East Queensland), taking account of the forecasts for population growth produced by the State Government.

The Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 sets down council’s current approach to growth management and presents a clear strategic plan for protecting the character, lifestyle and environment of the Sunshine Coast as it grows.

ShapingSEQ directs that 62 per cent of all new residences are to be provided in existing urban areas across the local government area, including the coastal corridor from Maroochydore to Caloundra. If we support sustainable growth in this corridor, we can offer a relaxed coastal lifestyle within walking distance of our iconic beaches.

Based on experience, much of the expected growth will occur in the region’s south-east and along the coast between Maroochydore and Caloundra, an area where significant proportions of the Sunshine Coast’s population and jobs are located.

The revitalisation of Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Kawana, Birtinya and Caloundra centres are part of this plan, providing more jobs, attracting investment, and offering diverse housing choices to enhance the coastal corridor as a key location for delivering more sustainable growth into the future.

Delivering local mass transit in the coastal corridor would provide sustainable transport choices located where significant proportions of the population and jobs growth are forecast to occur and would ensure that, while we grow, our lifestyle and housing choices can be maintained.

The delivery of a mass transit solution provides the opportunity for well-considered urban land use planning to ensure that as we grow, we can offer the lifestyle and housing options that people want and achieve good planning outcomes that would maintain the character of our communities.

The mass transit system would be a means of managing the effects of growth by providing the choice of a sustainable mode of travel that is a frequent, reliable, convenient, and comfortable alternative to reduce dependence on private car travel.

It would provide greater opportunities for managing growth and would also provide an opportunity for urban land use change because of the benefits that can be realised through greater numbers of people travelling on a dedicated and efficient transit service.

For example, old ‘big box’ retail warehouse buildings may be transformed into new dining or residential precincts as it would make more sense for this type of activity to be close to where people can access mass transit stations.

No. There are no plans for significant high-rise development on the Sunshine Coast. This would not be in line with our character and amenity. Consistent with community and council values and in-line with long standing council planning frameworks, there is no plan for high-density, expansive and significant building height adjustments across the entire corridor.

The locations that are suitable for higher density development may include our major centre of Maroochydore and our key activity centres. There may also be opportunities for increased density along the mass transit corridor – but this does not mean ‘high density’ or ‘high rise’ – and this can only be determined through engagement with the community (including statutory consultation in accordance with the Planning Act 2016).

Maintaining and enhancing the Sunshine Coast’s valued lifestyle, character and identity in the coastal corridor can be achieved through suitable land use changes such as:

  • promoting a series of urban villages that contain a mix of uses in local community hubs that are connected to the major centres of Maroochydore, Kawana and Caloundra
  • providing for a range of desirable housing choices that suit our coastal lifestyle and offer affordable options for our community
  • producing built form outcomes consistent with the Sunshine Coast’s existing setting and character and preventing excessive high-rise development.

Urban land use planning would also consider placemaking priorities for the key centres, around potential new station precincts and areas in the urban corridor to ensure we continue to provide vibrant public spaces that are green, accessible, inclusive and representative of the values of the Sunshine Coast community.

A comprehensive community engagement program launched on 28 April 2021 to seek community and stakeholder feedback, views and ideas on the options for the mass transit project, as well as land use options for managing growth in the urban coastal corridor.

We will be hosting several face to face events during the consultation period, including pop up sessions at local markets and libraries.

To learn more about where you can find us and how to have your say visit haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.

There will also be future opportunities for the community to have its say, including through the preparation of the Detailed Business Case and the preparation of the new Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme.

The draft Options Analysis Report states that there is only one feasible route that would accommodate a mass transit system.

The proposed route for the first stage of the mass transit system would connect key destinations along the corridor from Maroochydore to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at Birtinya. The route largely follows the existing main roads through the corridor including Nicklin Way.

However, there will be an opportunity for the community to have a say on this proposed route.

The findings from the engagement consultation will be incorporated in and inform the Options Analysis before it is considered by council in mid-late 2021. An engagement summary document will be prepared to present the findings of the engagement program and the next steps for the project.

The engagement outcomes will also inform ongoing land use planning for the coastal corridor, which will support the preparation of a land use strategy that is reflective of the community’s position for the Detailed Business Case, as well as future planning processes.

If, as a result of the consultation undertaken through the Detailed Business Case analysis prepared by the Queensland Government in partnership with Sunshine Coast Council, it is considered that amendments to the planning scheme are required, those amendments will be subject to further community consultation in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Planning Act 2016.

Council has taken a lead on planning for the transport future of the Sunshine Coast to ensure our community is well positioned to secure investment from the State and Commonwealth Governments to deliver a high-quality mass transit transport system that meets the community’s needs now and well into the future.

Although council will not control the final design of the mass transit solution or its delivery, it is responsible for the land use outcomes and will be working closely with other levels of government to ensure our community’s preferences are included in the ongoing planning.

No. In 2001, the Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) completed a study called the Caboolture and Maroochydore Corridor Options Study – also known as CAMCOS. The CAMCOS focused in part on providing higher speed travel to the south of the region, including Brisbane.

The study concluded the preferred transport mode was heavy passenger rail, like the current Citytrain network, and identified a preferred corridor from Beerwah to Maroochydore and onto the Sunshine Coast Airport. Since then, the government has been actively acquiring land for the corridor.

The CAMCOS is a part of an integrated strategy which includes the Mass Transit Project.

More information about this project is available on TMR’s website here: https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/projects/caboolture-to-maroochydore-corridor-study

No. The Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Project has also previously been known and still sometimes referred to within the community as the Light Rail Project. This project commenced in 2011 and involved pre-feasibility and feasibility studies and using the technology and transit options available at that time, it was determined that a light rail system was a preferred option.

When the business case process commenced in 2018, the decision was taken to throw open the options to ensure a more robust business case and capitalise on some advances in mass transit technology like electric buses. Sunshine Coast Council and the Queensland government are now able to consider a wider range of transit options. Accordingly, the project is now referred to as the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Project.

No. Population growth projections used in the Options Analysis will be the latest Queensland Government projections available, although it should be noted these are subject to regular review.

As part of the business case development process, the likely future population and employment in the project catchment area need to be considered. The Options Analysis phase relies upon official projections of future population made in 2018 by the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office (QGSO). Projections are made at low, medium and high series.

For this purpose the medium series will be used and these have been translated into more detailed modelling by the Department of Transport and Main Roads. The QGSO projections are normally used for Queensland Government business cases, and are also generally used for planning future government services including education, health and emergency services. They are updated periodically by QGSO and different QGSO projections may be relied upon for future phases of business case development.

Any proposed changes to land use regulations to accommodate the projected population growth will be led by council in consultation with the community as provided under the Planning Act 2016. The market will then dictate the pace of change, which would be likely to occur progressively over several decades.

No. In addition to the official population projections by the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office (QGSO), other land use scenarios have been considered to test the ability of mass transit investment to influence projected growth in dwellings, population and jobs. These other scenarios are not official projections and will not be used to underpin the Options Analysis. However, they will be used to provide an indication of how effective the proposed mass transit investment may be in supporting existing urban consolidation policies.
No. The official projections used are the latest available projections made by the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office (QGSO) in 2018. These may be reviewed when a picture of the effects of COVID-19 on population growth in Queensland’s regions becomes clearer.

The business model for the delivery of mass transit would see the Queensland Government responsible for the majority of the capital and all of the operating costs.

The Australian Government may provide significant capital funding, while only a small proportion of capital could be provided by council.

A financial model was developed to determine the construction, mobilization and operating period costs and present cash flows to the end of the analysis period for each option. Revenue has been used to offset operating costs to present the net cash flows which provides a net present value (NPV). This approach reflects a typical cash flow analysis methodology for the assessment of infrastructure projects. The best comparison for total project costs is to compare the construction and operating costs against the forecast fare revenue. Table one below provides a summary.

Cost Item

Net Present Value ($000)

Quality Bus Corridor

Trackless Tram

Bus Rapid Transit

Wireless Light Rail

Light Rail

Construction Costs






Operating Costs






Farebox Revenue






Net Project Value






Table 1 Comparison of the Net Present Values (NPV) of all options

All five Reference Projects will require significant funding during the delivery stage to accommodate the infrastructure development required. As with all public transport projects, none of the options generate sufficient farebox revenue during the appraisal period to recover capital or operating costs. A further detailed cost estimate will be required for the preferred Reference Project(s) during the Detailed Business Case stage.

If it goes ahead, the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit would start operating from 2027 at the earliest.