What are the options for future transport between Brisbane and the Gold Coast?

The construction of a new north-south road parallel to the M1 Pacific Motorway, called the Coomera Connector, is currently being planned between Loganholme and Nerang.  The recent announcement by the Queensland Premier progressing the business case for the southern section of the Coomera Connector has created a lot of interest in the industry. Community consultation is currently underway – want to have your say? … then click here: Coomera Connector Community Consultation.

This article is the second in a series for a case study for an upcoming transport planning course being developed, to outline the options new major transport infrastructure. See the previous article: Is a new corridor needed between Brisbane and the Gold Coast?

Desired Objectives or Outcomes

Provision of appropriate infrastructure and service upgrades on the corridor should aim to:

  • Provide an appropriate level of service for passenger and freight movements in response to future travel demands
  • Focus corridor modes for particular tasks:
    • longer distance and larger vehicle freight task on the Pacific Motorway
    • inter-city mass passenger movements on the Gold Coast Rail 
    • improve connectivity from the local networks to public transport interchanges, and activity and employment centres
  • Encourage high occupancy vehicle travel and public transport patronage by:
    • matching the frequency of rail and bus services to meet demand
    • improve access to public transport services by improved connectivity to interchanges and transfer facilities, such as park and ride areas
    • priority for high occupancy vehicles, in particular buses
  • Encourage active transport for shorter distance trips and access to activity centres
  • Future proofing for travel demands and providing flexibility to address social, demographic, economic and technology trends
  • Ensure value for money and timely solutions are identified.

Transport Options

There are an infinite array of potential options and combination of options available to meet future travel demand. First, it is necessary to establish assessment criteria with which to analyse the most appropriate options, for example:

  • Will it be cost-effective? Think in terms of cost per passenger-kilometre or cost per tonne-kilometre
  • Can it provide the desired outcomes (mobility, access, safety …)?
  • Can it be readily implemented?
  • Will it be acceptable to the community?

And you can think up others.

So, what are some of the potential options?

  • Additional lanes to the M1 Pacific Motorway [see traffic in Los Angeles video]
  • M1 Pacific Motorway Interchange upgrades and services roads where needed
  • Upgrading Gold Coast Passenger Rail services, including improved access to Brisbane CBD, bus-rail interchanges and park and ride facilities
  • Using smart technology, managed motorways to get more out of the existing M1
  • Building on top of the M1, for additional traffic lanes, or heavy rail or monorail
  • Adding a fast rail corridor between Brisbane and Gold Coast
  • Developing the Coomera Connector as an alternative corridor providing priority for public and active transport where appropriate
  • Providing exclusive right-of-way for bus rapid transit.
  • … etc

Some of these options are still a number of years away, some are prohibitively expensive, some do not provide the needed outcomes. The solution will likely be a combination of options or sub-options.

ATAP recently released a draft guide: O6 Alternatives to Large Construction Investments [1] which outlines non-capital and low cost (ie less than $10m) investments – along the lines of the Queensland Smart Solutions [2] – examples of the options from the Guide are outlined below.

Alternatives to Large Construction Investments

Future Transport Options

There are also numerous current and emerging transport options to be considered in providing for future multi-modal transport corridors.

Some of the emerging technologies and services include:

  • Connected and automated vehicles (car, bus, truck, train)
  • Electric vehicles and other more sustainable energy sources
  • Sophisticated smarter systems to enable improved traffic flow
  • Ridesharing, demand-responsive transport, mobility as a service, and shared vehicles
  • Electric bikes and scooters
  • New forms of mobility such as a hyperloop or flying taxis

So what do you think? What do you suggest?


[1] Australian Transport Assessment and Planning (ATAP). 2019. O6 Alternatives to Large Construction Investments, draft for public consultation, August 2019
[2] Transport and Main Roads (TMR). 2017. Smarter solutions: network optimisation framework, and reference guide, Oct 2017

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