Ashley Robinson OAM

How Ashley will overcome the Sunshine Coast’s traffic snarl

MAYORAL candidate Ashley Robinson today unveiled a bold plan to tackle the Sunshine Coast’s worsening traffic congestion, and signalled the start of an innovative network of privately owned on-demand minibuses.

Mr Robinson said it was time the Sunshine Coast stopped relying on the vague promises of the State and Federal Governments and took responsibility for solving its own traffic issues.

“Anybody who thinks Heavy Rail from Beerwah to Maroochydore will be up and running by the 2032 Olympics is deluding themselves,” he said. “Even if the money was made available tomorrow it would be impossible to deliver on time.

“We need to grow up, face reality and stop believing in fairy tales.”

Mr Robinson said the Sunshine Coast was one of the country’s major tourism destinations, one of Australia’s fastest-growing regions, and a city that would accommodate 520,000 people by 2040.

“Yet the State and Federal Governments think urgently needed transport and road infrastructure on the Sunshine Coast is something they can promise, then take away, as some sort of political tactic,” he said.

He said he would mount a campaign to demand the State and Federal Governments help foot the bill, given their failure to deliver on the Caloundra Road upgrade, a link road out of that CBD, and the Mooloolah River Interchange.

“I’m putting our region’s State and Federal parliamentary representatives on notice that I expect them to fight for – and deliver – the infrastructure we need, or I’ll do everything I can to ensure we’re represented by men and women who realise their priority is to the people who elect them,” he said.

In the meantime, Mr Robinson pledged to introduce a low-cost system of small, on-demand buses that would act as a network to deliver Sunshine Coast residents from the suburbs to the coastal strip and the major towns and attractions.

The network would also act as a feeder link to the State Government’s promised ‘bus rapid transport’ system which would have designated bus lanes and operate along the coast when – and if – it is ever built.

“As a first step I’ll be meeting with representatives of clubs, associations, retirement villages and nursing homes to see whether their minibuses could be made available, when not otherwise needed, to form a fleet of on-demand small buses.

“If elected, my council will look at initially funding and coordinating this service as a positive step towards reducing the number of vehicles on our roads,” he said.

“The goal is to reduce the number of short-distance car journeys, encourage a smarter way of getting to work that doesn’t incur parking costs and deliver another income stream to the community service organisations.

“It would also fund upgrade and expansion of those courtesy bus fleets with the service operating during the day – both east-west and along the coastal strip,” he said.

At the same time, Mr Robinson said he would work with the Education Department to persuade parents to abandon the practice of dropping off and picking up their children before and after school.

“The morning and afternoon traffic jams are a direct result of mums and dads unnecessarily chauffeuring their kids to and from school,” he said. “It’s got to stop.

“There’s already an excellent service of school buses where many of the fares are either free, or significantly subsidised. Why don’t we just use it?

“Instead of waiting for somebody else to overcome our public transport shortcomings, let’s set an example to the rest of the country and show them how a proactive Council goes about solving its own problems,” he said.