Former Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot.
Former Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot.

Ex-mayor calls out years of inaction from state MPs

A former Sunshine Coast mayor says there has been close to a decade of inaction on establishing a way forward for transport in the region.

Bob Abbot said this week he was “quite surprised” by the lack of progress on addressing public transport and traffic congestion since he retired from local government in 2012.

Mr Abbot, who had 30 years of local government experience including as the Noosa and Sunshine Coast mayor, said a “common goal” to address the issues needed to be established by Sunshine Coast Council and the State Government.

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During his time as Sunshine Coast mayor from 2008 to 2012, the council started the Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Plan.

Several reports have been released since then, with the public to have their say on the latest Options Analysis next week.

“It’s just been going on for so long and there doesn't seem to be any consistency in the messages or any great ability to move forward,” Mr Abbot said.

“I think while there is so many people with so many opinions on how this needs to be resolved, then it never will be.

“There needs to be a common goal.”

Mayor Mark Jamieson this week lashed out at some of the Coast's state MPs for failing to have a plan for public transport.

Cr Jamieson took aim at Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie for his criticism of the council’s Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Plan, questioning what Mr Bleijie had done to address transport issues.

“What is his plan? He has no plan, no plan whatsoever yet his electorate sits smack bang in the middle and will desperately require public transport,” Cr Jamieson said.

At Thursday’s meeting to vote on the community engagement strategy Cr Jamieson said if the light rail proposal went ahead, the first leg from Maroochydore to Kawana could be operational from 2027.

“That’s a fair bit of pressure … it’s seven years away, and the Abbot council was 10 years ago,” Cr Jamieson said during the meeting.

“God forbid a council sit here (in) 10 years time without having delivered a public transport solution.

Mr Bleijie said Cr Jamieson had not asked for any funding towards the mass transit plan.

“He’s got a preliminary business case, he’s not put a figure on it, he’s just said it’s a state responsibility,” Mr Bleijie said.

He said congestion on the region’s local roads needed to be addressed first.

Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson said she was pushing for better bus services which connect to the Sunshine Coast rail line and new security measures to make public transport safer.

“That’s why I stood with the mum of a young bashing victim who was attacked at the Maroochydore Bus Station, calling for the State Government to fix the safety issues with better security on buses,” she said.

Mr Abbot believes there are three solutions: the CAMCOS corridor, an Sunshine Coast public transport network and road upgrades.

Mr Abbot said there would be “significant issues” if inaction continued.

“The bottom line is there’s too many people here not to be doing something,” he said.

“Depending on the type of population that the people of the Sunshine Coast want, that’s what should dictate the plan … not the other way around.”

“What they need to do is get some understanding of what the overall picture is going to be and to plan their public transport to suit … it’s not one answer.”

The latest Options Analysis report, due for release early next year, puts forward several proposals to address public transport issues including a quality bus corridor, bus rapid transit system and light rail.

The preferred option is a 23km light rail line with 16 stations from Maroochydore to Caloundra.

The report will be released for public feedback next year, before it is passed to the State Government for a Detailed Business Case.