Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - ANN WASON MOORE ann.wa­son­[email protected]

I DON’T al­ways agree with the Mayor, but when I do … it’s be­cause he’s right.

And when it comes to ex­ten­sion of the light rail and the pro­posed ferry sys­tem, he’s spot on.

I’m all for trees and green­ery but any op­po­si­tion to this de­vel­op­ment is ridicu­lous. Pub­lic trans­porta­tion is bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment be­cause of fewer cars. Duh.

As for ar­gu­ments from Burleigh MP Michael Hart that new data – which shows nine in ev­ery 10 Gold Coast­ers want the trams to run to the air­port through Palm Beach – is a farce is … far­ci­cal.

Great cities need great pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tems. Think New York, Lon­don and Tokyo. But great green attractions need them even more. And the Gold Coast is a lit­tle bit of both – fab­u­lous city and gor­geous green get­away.

As I write this, I’m lodged in pris­tine Yosemite Na­tional Park, high in Cal­i­for­nia’s snowy Sierra moun­tains. The best and of­ten the only way to get around here is via bus. The roads are closed to pri­vate cars be­cause of the dam­age that in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cles cause to the en­vi­ron­ment.

Ev­ery ma­jor US na­tional park is the same – pub­lic trans­porta­tion all the way.

The Gold Coast right now is like a Cal­i­for­nia gold rush town of the 1800s. It’s a lit­tle wild, the pop­u­la­tion is boom­ing and there’s trea­sure to be found.

We are poised for great­ness, but we have to risk a lit­tle hard­ship to seize it.

Our health and ed­u­ca­tion precincts are world class but our roads are third rate. The traf­fic be­tween Mer­maid and South­port may not look as im­pres­sive as 16-lane high­way grid­lock in LA, but it’s ev­ery bit as slow.

The Coast has grown too fast for its in­fra­struc­ture to keep up. Big­ger and bet­ter roads would be great, but ef­fec­tive pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tems would be bet­ter.

Yes, it re­quires some pain while we con­struct it but if we build it, they will come.

A study by the Amer­i­can Pub­lic Trans­porta­tion As­so­ci­a­tion has shown that smart, tar­geted in­vest­ment of $1 bil­lion a year on US pub­lic trans­port over a 20-year pe­riod could yield on av­er­age $3.7 bil­lion a year of added growth.

The same study also out­lined the ten­dency for pub­lic trans­porta­tion con­nec­tiv­ity to stim­u­late lo­cal economies and busi­nesses, of­ten in­di­rectly lead­ing to job cre­ation.

What this all adds up to is that in our case, we are be­com­ing the city that peo­ple don’t just move to, but stay in. And that in­cludes our kids. Imag­ine a fu­ture where they no longer had to move away to find em­ploy­ment?

Be­tween health and ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties, as well as the ev­er­green charm of our tourism in­dus­try, there is ev­ery rea­son for the next gen­er­a­tion to set their roots.

Even if the prospect of our chil­dren’s per­ma­nent res­i­dence doesn’t ap­peal, the fact that they can catch a train or ferry into town for fu­ture over-18 en­ter­tain­ment is re­ward enough.

We just need the X fac­tor of pub­lic trans­porta­tion.

With that magic in­gre­di­ent we are no longer a gold rush city in dan­ger of be­com­ing a ghost town, but a city that has hit both bedrock and pay­dirt.

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