ONE FINAL CALL FOR THE EXTENSION OF THE LIGHT RAIL

Written on the 16 April 2015 by Jenna Rathbone

ONE FINAL CALL FOR THE EXTENSION OF THE LIGHT RAIL

BUSINESS owners are giving it one more shot and urging the Labor government to commit to the second stage of the light rail, "before it is too late".

A petition launched on change.org is seeking 50,000 signatures before June 30 and calling for the light rail to connect to the heavy rail at Helensvale.

Nicole Willis of Taylor Willis Town Planners initiated the petition and says the Gold Coast's fragmented transport network needs to be a priority before the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

"It is critical we build it before the 2018 Commonwealth Games to ensure international visitors can land at Brisbane Airport and arrive at Surfers Paradise accommodation via an integrated and easy-to-use transport system," says Willis.

"Getting a train, then a bus, then a tram just won't cut it.  That is not world class and it is not how I want to welcome people to our city - first impressions are everything.

"The current links are very inefficient and waste so much valuable time and money.  They are not conducive to collaboration, economic growth or strengthening business. 

"So the importance is profound and the Commonwealth Games gives us a fixed date to have this legacy infrastructure in place."

Last night, 9 News Brisbane claimed the light rail extension would go ahead and an announcement from Labor was "imminent".  However, a spokesperson for the Deputy Premier's Office says the media report was factually incorrect.

"This project is yet to be finalised, approved or funded but as stated previously, we have provided in-principle support for the light rail extension and are continuing to lobby the Local and Federal Governments for funding to enable the project to proceed," the spokesperson says.

Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce President Peter Yared has signed the petition and is calling on all business leaders to jump on board.

He says if the second stage isn't delivered before the Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast is not going to be able to adequately meet demand of the increased number of people wanting to use the city's transport network in 2018.

"When looking at major transport infrastructure, the second stage of the light rail is the lynchpin and makes us look like we are taking the whole thing a little bit more seriously and gives business people confidence," says Yared.

"It shows that the government is looking to the future and thinking about the big picture and it shows that we are progressive.

"If the government doesn't give the nod for it very shortly, there is no way it is going to be ready in time for the Commonwealth Games. 

"We need to take it seriously, we need to look at it more closely, we need to get the government to back it because it absolutely has to happen and we need certainty before it is too late."

Prior to the election, a similar petition was launched and received more than 10,000 signatures.  The LNP committed to the second stage following the outcry, however Labor remained tight-lipped on the project.


Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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