The Gold Coast Mayor says the number one issue during the 2018 Commonwealth Games is transport. Hundreds of millions have been spent on infrastructure upgrades, but questions remain – can the Gold Coast handle the biggest event hosted by a regional city?
Maudy Veltema reports.
The Commonwealth Games will bring an extra 600,000 domestic and international visitors to the Gold Coast.
Rail and road upgrades, extra bus and train services, as well as 10,000 additional park and ride spots have been put in place for the 10-day event.
Kate Jones, Minister for the Commonwealth Games: “In fact, the only reason why the light rail was built on the Gold Coast was because we as a government believe it was critical to have structure in place ahead of the Commonwealth Games.”
Some of the upgrades weren’t due to be built until 2031.
Barry Gyte, Head of Transport, GOLDOC: “So the city has had a massive bring forward of infrastructure investment, which is providing benefits now and will provide lasting legacies for the city.”
The M1 is still considered the biggest problem.
But international data shows proposed speed restrictions will dramatically reduce the number of accidents.
Barry Gyte, Head of Transport, GOLDOC: “And in fact, it increases the throughput, at 100 kilometres an hour more cars can travel closer together, so per hour we get more vehicles through on the corridor.”
The $320 million updates to Gold Coast infrastructure will leave a legacy for residents and tourists alike.
But some think free public transport should be available for everyone.
David Hutley, President, Main Beach Association: “If they want to get traffic off the road, why don’t they give free transport to everybody who wants to move around the Gold Coast.”
According to GOLDOC, that proposition would be too expensive, but there is a travel demand program for locals.
Barry Gyte, Head of Transport, GOLDOC: “It’s known as get set Gold Coast campaign, and it’s really working with residents and businesses to consider whether they can reduce the trips they do, if they can re-time the trips they do, if they can re-route the trips.”
Not everyone is convinced the transport measures will be enough at Games time.
David Hutley, President, Main Beach Association: “I think there’s going to be a difference between what the plan is and what will actually happen and that’s the problem.”
Some experts believe the absence of locals hoping to escape the crowds will help congestion.
Neil Sipe, Professor of Planning, University of Queensland: “Los Angeles in 1984, they predicted chaos there and the results basically were that traffic was never easier to get around Los Angeles than when they had the Olympics, because a lot people either left town or didn’t get in their car.”
The majority on the Gold Coast are hoping 10 days of inconvenience will be balanced out by a lasting transport legacy.
David Hutley, President, Main Beach Association: “We are a tourist city, we do want the games here, and therefore there are some disadvantages people have to put up with for a short period of time.”
Maudy Veltema, QUT News.