Monday, April 20, 2015

On the G

Last week I had the pleasure of riding on the G - the new light rail system on Queensland's Gold Coast. It is quick, quiet, air-conditioned and very comfortable. It seems to be well supported too. I rode with shoppers, tourists, travellers with large suitcases, school children and retirees.

It isn't perfect yet. It needs to link up with the Brisbane rail system and also the Gold Coast airport and when it does it will be as good as anything in the world. It has just been announced that the G will be extended north to meet the Queensland Rail network at Helensvale - this should be relatively straight-forward and inexpensive, and could be in place for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. The next logical step after that would be to project the G south to Coolangatta, linking with the Gold Coast airport on the way. Because of existing infrastrucure this will be more expensive and will take longer to achieve.

There are some caveats about the G though. My mate who lives on the Gold Coast pointed out the years of disruption to traffic, noise and general inconvenience incurred in the construction phase. Some businesses were extremely badly affected by the alteration of vehicle and pedestrian routes through the Gold Coast. Also, there is no doubt that there is a huge startup capital cost for infrastructure of this magnitude.

Unfortunately (but predictably) this encounter left me nostalgic for Brisbane trams, even though they haven't been around since April 1969 except at the tramway museum at Ferny Grove.

Over the years there has been various attempts to resurrect trams here. I would hate to think how much has been spent on feasibility studies initiated by the different levels of government. Every time there is a change of government (happens all too frequently these days) the new people ditch all previous studies and institute their own. The latest was the BaT Tunnel that was promoted by the previous LNP state government that would have sent buses and trains through a tunnel under the river - it has now been tossed out by the incoming Labor government who want to come up with their own proposal. Although the BaT Tunnel project didn't include trams, it may have freed up public transport enough to consider them down the track (sorry!).

But I like to dream. Imagine having trams back again.

Naturally they would have to be separated from the rest of the traffic somehow. The original Brisbane trams required cars to stop every time the tram pulled up at a tram stop unless there was a safety zone - a recipe for disaster in today's heavy traffic. But the pay-off would be that many of those motorists might use more convenient public transport.


1 comment:

  1. How can a modern city, concerned about adequate public transport and petrol pollution, take out its trams? And how can a modern city not put them back?

    Your new light rail system wil be awesome.


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