GOLD Coast light rail operator GoldLinQ has been heartened by first-day passenger numbers on Monday after a bumper 80,000 trips were recorded on last Sunday’s open day when travel was free.
GoldLinQ says preliminary figures from TransLink shows there were more than 13,000 boardings on Monday, which hailed the start of fully-paid services between Broadbeach and the Gold Coast University Hospital.
The figures are well down on targets, but a GoldLinQ spokesman says the patronage was “busier than every TransLink bus route, with the possible exception of Brisbane Transport route 66”.
“These figures are indicative only as TransLink is still reviewing the ticket data as it becomes available,” the spokesman says.
GoldLinQ says the first-day services have been impacted by major bus network changes occurring on the same day and the fact that Griffith University is still on holidays.
The light-rail operator says it expects a ramp-up in patronage “as passengers become used to new system and change their travel behaviour”.
Sunday’s open day came at the upper end of the tram system’s capacity, representing the equivalent of about 15 per cent of the Gold Coast’s population giving the new trams a go.
GoldLinQ says it had been expecting between 55,000 and 70,000 passengers on the first day which came after three months of testing.
Based on original estimates in 2011, the light rail system was expected to carry about 50,000 passengers daily along the 13km route.
Those early targets have since been cut with GoldLinQ now targeting to move about 25,000 people a day on regular services in the first two years of operation.
The Gold Coast trams are among the longest in the world with a capacity to carry up to 309 people at a time along the route which is serviced by 14 stations.
The Queensland Government is subsidising the venture for the next 15 years, recouping some of that through ticket sales.
Trams have started operating on GoldLinQ’s standard timetable, from 5am to 11.50pm Monday to Thursday and a 24-hour service on weekends.
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