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Do the math! It is not rocket science. What do you think?

According to our studies that will soon be published, we could have modern and clean public transport for less than a third of the cost of the proposed light rail stage 4.


This is your debt, my debt, our debt. It is estimated that it will take at least 30 years for the local residents to repay this debt. By then you might like to question how old the tram technology will be.

Please go along and tell the TMR staff why you do not want light rail on the southern Gold Coast. For example, the proposal to narrow the GC Hwy to 2 lanes in Palm Beach and convert many side streets to one lane with angle parking is a huge negative for the community consequently traffic will be diverted from the Gold Coast Hwy to the back streets of Palm beach creating traffic chaos. Access will be severely restricted leaving local residents in a struggle to get home.


Data Link: https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/-/media/aboutus/rti/disclog/2021/RTI-1550-Release.PDF?la=en

Each tram set has seats for 80 persons and total capacity of 309.


Data obtained by Sunshine Coast Mass Transit Action Group Inc under Right to Information also reveals that GCLR trams run at an average of under a third of capacity (apparently except for the Commonwealth games when the reported 36% peak was reached). 

Over the last three available years, GCLR Stage 1&2 trip numbers averaged 9.6m a year while Surfside provided 13.3m trips a year.


GCLR travel is within Zone 5 at a current trip fare of $3.37. 

Using this fare, an average year would see $32.2m in tram revenues and $44.9m in bus revenues.

Servicing Tramway Capital costs?

$1,300 million is the public capital cost for building Stage 1 & 2.  Private equity parties reportedly provided at least $600m.

Simple interest cost on Capital is $13m for every 1% public interest rate (and $6m for 1% private).

Unless interest is below 2.5% pa, tram revenues fail to cover public interest.  Queenslanders through their government agreed to take revenue risk, so private party returns appear guaranteed! 

Additional are interest shortfall, maintenance and operations, servicing and repayment of public borrowings and payments due to private parties.  Reliable information is unavailable to us, but presumably known to government?  

So, how much is it costing bus and other road users along with rate and tax payers to subsidise the costs of 21 km of underused tramway?

How to waste a billion dollars.

Cost blowouts.

GCLR3 expected costs now exceed $1billion. 

Current estimates of Stage 3 costs per built kilometre are:

  • 2.4 times those of Stage 1
  • 2.8 times Stage 2 per km costs and
  • 1.6 times the $709m proposed in 2019 Stage 3 business case.

$716m in additional operating and maintenance costs over 30 years are also proposed without a justification presented.

What is going on?

The numbers have been readily available for some time, so why has there been stunning silence from Federal, Queensland and Gold Coast political representatives and bureaucrats?

Despite community requests, no review of project financial feasibility has been undertaken.

Nor have alternative transport options been reviewed.

Nor have falsities in “urban consolidation” arguments been recognised.

Instead the push is on to waste much more public money by forcing Stage 4.  Poor revenue potential imprudently raises risks, rates and debt servicing needs while despoiling nature. 

Beyond Commitment to Failure

 “Commitment to failure” problems typically arise from lack of due diligence along with undue political and commercial considerations leading to lock-in. 

There Is No Alternative’ claims surround the GCLR, despite being manifestly untrue.

TINA claims allow problems to worsen unchecked.

Warnings like “lack of flexibility can leave government vulnerable to private sector profiteering on the commercial terms of significant extensions”[1]need to be heeded.   

It is not airheads but the inflexibly committed that stand responsible as they channel the Animal Farm chant of “Four legs [Stages] good, two legs baa-d” to drown out dissenting opinion.

GCLR Stages 1 and 2 actually make some sense and have further promise (as might Carrara -Nerang).  Stages 3 and 4 don’t and won’t stack up, no hard some might pretend.  It’s time to accept this, and to work together on real solutions that do not squander billions needlessly.

[1] PWC Australia (2017) “Obtaining value for money on rail extensions


Published on the GC Bulletin

Stay tuned for SOSGC further studies and updates.